SAVANNAH, GA -- Tucked away on the coastline of Georgia, the city of Savannah is a hidden gem for Southern beauty, historic architecture, world-renowned food and Spanish moss laced trees wrapped around historic and majestic town squares throughout. The charming and sleepy city is also one of the hidden gems for basketball talent in the Southeast.
On Tuesday night, two of the top prospects in the city were paired against each other as Brandon Mobley and his Windsor-Forest team played host to Groves and Dominique Elliott. The 6-foot-8 juniors are on the recruiting radar for a host of schools and the match-up was one of the more intriguing ones in the early season.
Despite his efforts Mobley and Windsor-Forest lost 89-81 in an overtime battle against Groves.
It wasn't pretty. Then again how many high school games are pretty these days?
For the first two quarters, the game was rather bland and the energy in the gym was nearly non-existent. And going into the fourth quarter, Groves held a 16-point lead and looked comfortable in the driver's seat thanks to offensive balance and good team defense.
Groves head coach Ty Randolph, a former Harlem Globetrotter, said he wasn't surprised when he saw his team lose the lead and needed an overtime period to claim the win.
"We came in here with nothing to lose. We haven't lost this year and we knew that it was their home opener. We knew they would be up for this game," Randolph said. "So when we lost our lead and they put us on the ropes, I told [my team] that happens when you slack off on defense. With eight minutes left to play, we slacked off."
One player that didn't slack off, especially in the overtime period was junior Keenan Ready, a 6-foot-4 wing. The long and active forward scored six of his 17 points in the final period and played with a sense of urgency that put Windsor-Forest on it's heels.
"I know people say this all the time and I told this to the kids is that big time players make big time plays in big time games and [Ready] made some big time plays," Randolph said.
Ready gained confidence as the game moved forward. He cemented his place on the watch list for low-major schools (and maybe higher) with his play.
Mobley finished 19 points (5-7 FG, 9-12 FT) and 16 rebounds in the game. Almost exclusively, Mobley's scores came on easy dunks or foul shots. He did score on one good-looking left-handed hook shot on the left block.
"After I made that shot, I felt like I could have done anything I wanted out there," Mobley said.
No one could slow him down on the glass. Mobley came out strong right out of the gates and was a presence as a rebounder.
Elliott admitted to not having his best game. He finished with nine quiet points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Neither one of the big men had a chance to get into the flow of the game and neither one of the big men had the ball tossed into the post.
Mobley is claiming offers from Indiana, Cincinnati, Auburn, Kentucky and Clemson while Memphis, Miami, Georgia, Oregon State, Marquette, Xavier, Texas, Kansas State and South Carolina have all shown a degree of interest, says the big man.
Mobley said he and his mother will make an unofficial visit to South Carolina on Dec. 30 when the Gamecocks play host to in-state rival Clemson.
Elliott said he is hearing from Georgia State, Xavier, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Cincinnati, Georgia, Auburn, UAB, Clemson and South Carolina.
Ready, the junior star of the game, said his recruitment is quiet at the moment but he is a good-looking low-major prospect with good length at the wing position.
Both teams boasted a senior worth looking at for low-major schools. Groves big man Nate Drayton and Windsor-Forest wing Randall Black each played a part in their team's success.
Drayton, a 6-foot-5 grinder, was the strongest player on the floor. He muscled his way around the cup for eight rebounds and a modest four points. He plays with energy and toughness.
Black, a 6-foot-4 scorer, hit two big three-pointers in Windsor-Forest's comeback and scored tough buckets at the rim to eventually send the game into overtime. He finished with 19 points in the defeat and grabbed eight rebounds.