From the Hardwood: Waller, Byer do court battle

Heading into Tuesday night’s games, the Wicomico Indians and Parkside Rams’ boys’ basketball teams are undefeated and sit atop the Bayside-South Conference standings with clean records.

Butch Waller has led his well-rounded Indians team to a perfect 3-0, while his former assistant Dave Byer has led an extremely talented Rams squad to a 4-0 record after outlasting the Washington Jaguars last Friday.

The Jaguars (3-1; 2-1) had the game against the Rams all knotted up in the fourth quarter, but when some of their key players fell into foul trouble, the Rams were able to take the lead again and coasted to a 100-90 win. The win was capped off by a lob pass from Rams’ senior guard Dajour Diggs and slammed home by senior wing Colen Gaynor.

The alley-oop is becoming a ritual for the Rams in their wins and is a play that they use often. Diggs will hold the ball at the top of the key or on the wing while Gaynor – or fellow senior forward Juwan Williams – makes a backdoor cut to the basket for an easy two points.

It’s a symbol for how talented the Rams are this season. Some games, like Monday’s win against the Snow Hill Eagles (1-3; 0-2) they don’t even need the three headed monster of Gaynor, Diggs and Williams; all of them sat on the sidelines during the second half as they watched the non-starters guide Parkside to a 91-42 victory.

The Rams are currently winning on an average score of 96-53 through four games and while college prospects Diggs, Gaynor and Williams lead this team in most statistical categories, Coach Byer has put together a deep roster this season with size that has come in quite handy.

The key to their success in the long-term may be dependent on a first year player; Keyante Kelly.

Kelly is a junior, but until this season has never had the grades to eligible to play basketball at Parkside. In the Rams’ first game of the year – a thorough 98-37 whooping of Easton (1-3; 1-2), the defending Bayside Champions – Kelly came off the bench and in three minutes in the first quarter he grabbed five rebounds that helped the Rams extend their lead.

The 6’5” forward lacks some fundamentals on the floor, but his raw talent combined with his size and desire to never quit makes him a valuable asset as a rebounder, shot blocker and inside scorer to the Rams.

Wicomico is strong too

A few miles down the road, Waller’s Wi-Hi squad is clicking early. A veteran squad with three starting seniors – Nelson Brown, Lionel Batson and Trevelle Jones – combined with a dynamic point guard in junior Torrey Brittingham make this well-coached Wicomico team tougher than people view them on paper.

The recent stars like Thomas Brown, Derrick Hayward and Larry Ennis are gone, but this Wi-Hi team is a close knit group that shares the ball and plays tough defense. After an expected win against North Dorchester (1-3; 1-2) the Indians followed that up with impressive wins over Kent County (2-2; 2-0) and Brittingham’s former team, Stephen Decatur (3-1; 2-1).

Before the winter break and the Governor’s Challenge, the Indians will travel south for their toughest opponent yet as they face off against the 3-0 Pocomoke Warriors on Friday night.

Clippers up and down early

On the other side of town, the J.M. Bennett Clippers have been a model of inconsistency in their first year of the post-Kory Holden era.

The Clippers (2-2; 1-2) started off hot, with a home win over Queen Anne’s (3-2; 3-0) on opening night in which senior guard Jorden Duffy dropped 39 points and 11 assists. But the following game, Duffy was ejected early with just five points in a loss against Pocomoke.

With Duffy suspended in the next game, the Clippers were able to lean on Barry Gaines in a win against Snow Hill, but followed that up with a 111-83 road loss on Monday to Washington. Duffy – double-teamed the whole game – still scored 32 points but the Clippers couldn’t stop turning the ball over against the Jaguars.

The Clippers will have their first real test on Thursday night in the first six games for the Salisbury City Championship when they face the undefeated Parkside Rams.

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