ESPN HoopGurlz: Ballin' in the Boro
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The championship game of the Battle in the Boro allowed the Tennessee Flight to not only take home the title but also avenge their one loss of the current club season. Tournament MVP Rebecca Greenwell led the way but a couple of University of Georgia-bound teammates provided some impressive contributions as well. Cy-Fair got some impressive play in the loss and throughout the event from a summer addition that that wasn't part of their roster when the two teams met back in April. Here are a few thoughts on the performance of each in Saturday's rematch.
Marjorie Butler (Powell, Tenn.), Tennessee Flight: One of the true defining characteristics of an elite player is her ability to continue to refine her skills and demonstrate a constant elevation in her game. This 5-foot-7 point guard is making the most of her final club season with success both on the scoreboard as well as with her play. From the tip of the title game to the final buzzer Butler was setting a pace that allowed her and her Flight teammates to exploit their vast arsenal of offensive skills while Cy-Fair defenders were still getting matched up on the break. The No. 76 ranked player in the class of 2012 by ESPN HoopGurlz is pushing the ball at every opportunity and reading the floor effectively as she attacks. There are times her decision making has its moments, but the trade off for an errant pass or two is a relentless tempo that challenges any opposing transition defense. She got to the rim several times herself but also effectively took advantage of some midrange opportunities off penetration. Defensively she's quick and physical which should serve her well in Andy Lander's system and against SEC competition. One of Butler's strength's is her even keel emotionally and watching her against Cy-Fair you wouldn't have known if they were up, down, turning it over or running up the score. Her poker face at the point keeps opponents guessing.
Shacobia Barbee (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Tennessee Flight: It's a testament to the play of this 5-11 utility player that, while she still hasn't defined her position at the next level, she continues to have an impact on almost any game in which she suits up. The No. 87 ranked player in the class of 2012 by ESPN HoopGurlz provided Flight with impressive play at both ends of the floor, inside and on the perimeter. She has the strength and attacking mentality to be effective mixing up in the low post and off the drive from the elbow; there are few as effective. The championship game saw her looking to penetrate more off the dribble and create her own opportunities. While she had her moments, she's still not quite completely effective at getting past quicker backcourt defenders. Still, you can see the skill advancement and her confidence evolving. In transition Barbee can run the floor with any player out there and even took it through traffic a couple of times herself. Defensively she once again showed the ability match up with guards and forwards alike. The lateral footspeed is there to contain ballhandlers and there's no hesitancy to mix it up physically with opponents bringing greater size to the floor. Ultimately she should end up on the wing for the Bulldogs but her versatility provided the Flight with a double edged asset in their win over Cy-Fair.
Nicole Kornet (Lantana, Texas), Cy-Fair Nike Elite: While this 6-0 wing's performance didn't translate into championship success in the Boro, her overall play had recruiters and evaluators alike talking on the sidelines. By the time Saturday's championship game rolled around, expectations had risen for almost every touch that came her way. Against the Flight she got her looks and knocked down more than her share but didn't quite have the same performance that she had produced in earlier games. Nonetheless her size combines with impressive skills, instincts and some long range shooting that more than justifies her No. 37 ranking in the class of 2012 by ESPN HoopGurlz. She gets out in transition and runs the floor effectively with the ability to take it into traffic as well as spot up for the open jumper. The ballhandling skills are there to improve both her scoring opportunities as well as passing angles. Having joined Cy-Fair after the spring evaluation weekend and playing alongside fellow long-ball threat Peyton Little, she's becoming more comfortable and confident in looking for and taking her own shots in each event. Her size and agility also puts her in a position to be a sound defender though she did give up some penetration on several possessions in the final game with Flight. With the summer just halfway over, the best may be yet to come.
Mark Lewis is the national recruiting coordinator for ESPN HoopGurlz. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and, most recently, Washington State. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.