By Billy Woods WM School District
Having played for Kwame Brown since he was in the third grade, diminutive Wonder point guard Cavin Paige has a special connection to his Lions coach, pun withstanding. “When something goes wrong on the court, I go to him,” Brown proclaimed. “We’re kind of on the same page, I guess you could say.” Paige poured in a game-high 18 points and set up his Golden Lions teammates with several flashy assists as Wonder took a 44-28 victory over West Monday night at Lehr Arena in the first round of the junior high district tournament. The Lions advance to the semifinals on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. against Jonesboro MacArthur. Paige scored 10 of his total in a first half that saw Wonder (19-5) take full ownership of the game. Wonder pulled out to a 12-2 lead at the end of one quarter after West’s star eighth-grader Chris Moore pulled into the parking lot just as the two teams were beginning pregame warm-ups. Moore has been sidelined the last few weeks with a knee injury. He was initially thought to be ruled out for the rest of the season, but late Monday afternoon he got clearance from his doctor. Moore made it to the last half of his team’s warm-ups and West coach Jimmy Hawkins changed his starting lineup. Moore led West’s attack with 8 points. But it was Paige’s show all evening. He scored 8 points in the second quarter as his team increased its lead to 26-7 at halftime. “He makes it go for us,” Brown added. “He has way more basketball IQ than the average player. He’s really like having a coach on the floor.” West, however, made a game of it with a strong start to the third quarter. A three-pointer by Corliss Brewer ignited a 12-2 run by the Blue Imps that included four points by Moore. West was still within striking distance at 36-27 with 4:03 left in the contest. But Kenneth Phillips banked one in to start an 8-0 spurt by Wonder that increased its advantage to 44-27 with only 1:42 to play. Brown said his team was fueled by the chance to play MacArthur, a team the Lions split with during the regular season. “They absolutely want to see MacArthur again,” Brown said of his team. “I told them before the game if you want to see them again I’m putting it on you.” Phillips added 12 points for Wonder while Julian Morris scored 9. Brewer pitched in 7 to aid the West cause. In other boys action on Monday night: Annie Camp 49, East 30 Annie Camp took early control behind the play of standout seventh-grade point guard B.J. Wilson, who led the winners with 14 points and dazzled the crowd with several eye-popping plays. The Whirlwinds will face Marion in a semifinal game on Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. The Red Imps were led by Kylan Sykes with 12 points while Keelan Williams added 10 and Keevan Quarrels scored 5. MacArthur 33, Mt. Home 30 Lavar Washington led MacArthur to the win with 10 points while Blake Snider added 8. The Cadets will face off against Wonder in Wednesday’s semifinals at 5:15 p.m.