The young Stallions from Queens Grant High School did not win a game at the highly competitive Queen City Clash Tournament held at Charlotte Country Day School recently as the team finished 8th in the holiday tournament.
However, Coach Jay Forsythe’s young Stallions were outmatched by stronger, bigger and more athletic opponents from Class 4A, 3A and 2A programs who entered the tournament. They had to play up another level and actually improved in every game losing the opener to tournament champion Carmel Christian 73-50 by 23 points, then 4th place finisher Comenius, Fort Mill, SC by 18 points 77-59, and 4A Southwestern Conference Porter Ridge 52-41 by 11 points.
Also, they were playing the tournament with A J Gallagher their big 6-6 senior power forward who continues to nurse a knee injury and is playing at 40% of his capability. He played like a warrior as he dove several times during the tournament for a loose ball and grabbed some key rebounds playing part time. He is capable of 10-14 points per game and is just not effective offensively with the injury averaging just over 2 points per game. Not having his leadership and big body in the middle really puts the Stallions at a very distinct disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Jah’Quez Sanders the smooth junior guard averaged 15.0 points per game in the tournament and was selected to the All-Tournament Team representing the Stallions. This is the second time during the season he has been selected to a tournament team.
Other good highlights for the Stallions include some solid performances from sophomore LB Boyette who scored 15 points against Carmel Christian. Another sophomore Jeremiah Murphy scored 10 points vs. Carmel Christian. Senior Khalil Chapman, and junior Xavier Westbrook showed some grit under the boards. Senior Prince Lemons had some bright spots along with Josh Suggs and Darnell Craig. In particular Chapman and Westbrook will need to step up their game for the Stallions to compete successfully and provide more consistent offense. If Gallagher gets healthy they could be firing on all cylinders.
The Stallions are a small 1A Class school of 515 students and they played against larger school programs who have more players to select the best athletes from their schools to be able to compete in conference competition.
Also, the loss of three key seniors due to graduation and the schools all time scoring leader certainly has shown up this season as the team is rebuilding and preparing for the future. They are really missing an offensive threat they had last season when Terron Dixon had the ability to score from anywhere on the court.
However, Coach Forsythe has his team playing against tougher competition over the holidays in two separate tournaments which should make the Stallions a much more difficult team for their opponents to contend with in the PAC 7 Conference. At the Wells Fargo WNC Holiday Classic at UNCA the Stallions are 1-1 with a 64-49 loss to Calvary Day School, Winston-Salem, NC and won their first tournament game 89-70 against Grace Christian, and plan to play a few more games.
Meanwhile, Jah’Quez Sanders scored 31 points with 9 assists, Khalil Chapman had 19 points with 12 rebounds for the double-double. Also, in the win against Grace Christian both Xavier Westbrook 14, A J Gallagher 8 points made major contributions which was a good sign for better things to happen for the Stallions going forward. The Stallions are expected to finish as a top tier team in their conference this season.