Kits travel to Akron for Lebron James Classic

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Kits travel to Akron for Lebron James Classic

Sophomore Jaheim Holden dribbles up the court

Sophomore Jaheim Holden dribbles up the court

Sophomore Jaheim Holden dribbles up the court

Sophomore Jaheim Holden dribbles up the court

Jesse Heuer, Sports Editor

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Heir to the throne.

After getting out to a hot start, boys basketball will have their hands full this weekend as they play two of Ohio’s top teams.

“Anything with LeBron James’ name on it is going to be run first class,” coach Mike Ellis said. “This event will put us against some of the best and most talented players in the country rather than just Illinois.”

The Kits will take on St. Vincent – St. Mary, the host school and LeBron’s alma mater, at 8 p.m. tomorrow and they’ll close out play on Sunday against Pickerington North at noon.

According to cleveland.com’s preseason poll, SVSM is ranked number two in the state. The Irish have one of the best backcourts in Ohio with 6-3 Buffalo commit Jayvon Graves and 5-11 Robert Morris commit Jon Williams.

“We will put as much pressure on them as possible, but also use our size, athleticism and speed to run the court,” senior Nojel Eastern said.

As for Pickerington North, they’re not as highly ranked as SVSM, but they’re lead by 6-7 junior Jerome Hunter who has high division one offers and is rated number three overall for the class of 2018 in Ohio according to 247sports.com.

ETHS comes into this event with a 7-1 record. They swept through the St. Viator Thanksgiving Tournament and breezed by their first two conference opponents in Niles North and Niles West. The one loss came at the Chicago Elite Classic when Montverde Academy (FL.), ranked fourth in the country according to the USA Today, defeated the Kits 82-51. ETHS was simply outmatched in this game as Montverde shot 60% from the field and forced 19 turnovers.

“We may not have been able to upset them, but I felt like we have answers to why we didn’t play as well as we should have,” Ellis said. “Now it’s just a matter of making sure that we learn those lessons and continue to get better.”

Through the first seven games, the Purdue bound Eastern leads the team with 120 points and 27 assists. The squad is shooting 47.3% from the field and they’ve outscored their opponents 458-385.

This years starting lineup consists of a senior transfer from Whitney Young, Malcolm Townsel, and a sophomore Lance Jones. Coming off of the bench are two more sophomores Jaheim Holden and Ryan Bost along with Tyler Battle and Matt Hall all of whom didn’t get much varsity experience last year. According to Ellis, they’re still trying to find a rhythm where they can get their team chemistry set.

“High school basketball is such a marathon. It’s the longest sport in high school,” Ellis said. “No one wins a state tournament in November or December. You have to use the 30 games on your schedule to learn from and be challenged and stay focused to the cause.”

The strength of schedule this year is by far the hardest they’ve seen in years. After traveling to Akron, the Kits will board a plane the following weekend and fly to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to play in the Beach Ball Classic beginning on Dec. 26. The tournament is ranked sixth by the USA Today as tournaments that you’ll “definitely want to get to”.

There’s nothing quite like traveling with a high school sports team and according to Ellis there’s as much to gain playing these teams out of state off the court as there is on the court.

“I’m excited to travel and prove to the nation that we’re not what we showed against Montverde and that we’re a good team who plays well together,” senior Elyjah Williams said.