Pinecrest Academy travelled to Lilburn last night to take on Providence Christian in the Sweet 16 of the GHSA A-Private State Playoffs. The Paladins picked up the road victory to advance to the Elite 8 thanks to an accumulation of runs throughout the game. Pinecrest went up 7-0 to start the game, made a run in the 2nd quarter to lead 30-18, extended their lead to 47-32 midway through the 3rd quarter after being ahead 33-29 at halftime, and then closed things out in the 4th. This matchup featured some really good young talent to go along with a few solid seniors. Here’s who stood out in last night’s contest.
2020 6’3” G Josh Boeye (Pinecrest)- 23 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 made 3’s.
I thought Boeye was the clear MVP of this game as he led Pinecrest with 23 points that came efficiently. He was the only Pinecrest player to hit more than 1 3-pointer with 3 makes beyond the arc. Boeye has a consistent outside shot that he shoots with good form and range. He is the primary ball-handler for the Paladins and even though he’s thin, his height advantage over other guards paired with nice touch allows him to convert in the lane. He doesn’t force things even when he’s hot and will also provide some rebounding for the team. His efforts and production were evident from the opening tip and he kept it going for the rest of the game. I’m not sure if he’s looking to play in college but he could be a solid addition for numerous D3 programs.
2022 6’5” W Oscar Lynch (Pinecrest)- 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals.
It was a bit of a slow start for Lynch, but once he got going his contributions were a big help to Pinecrest, especially in the 3rd quarter. Lynch has a methodical game with the ball in the halfcourt and can afford to be like that normally, but his best moments last night came as a result of his activity off the ball. There were multiple occasions where he snuck in for putbacks on the offensive glass and got out ahead of the pack in transition where his teammates could hit him for layups. Lynch plays at the top of Pinecrest’s zone on defense and routinely creates problems for offenses with his length and active hands. He has size on the perimeter and some good tools on both sides of the ball that serve him well. Improving his first step and explosiveness will help his recruitment significantly.
2022 6’3” SF JJ Hayes (Pinecrest)- 9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists.
Hayes was probably the most physically mature and defined player in last night’s game and he provides Pinecrest with a glue guy and toughness that is needed on every team. Hayes lets scoring and shots come as they will, focusing mostly on doing the dirty work. He rebounds very well, can hit mid-range and 3-point shots, and gives low-maintenance production. There isn’t really anything about his game that will jump off the page about his game but he knows who he is and gives good effort with physicality. Hayes can be effective in a lot of different situations because of his aforementioned qualities and these should give him a variety of college options by the time he’s a senior.
2022 6’4” G Chance Thacker (Providence Christian)- 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Similar to the Providence game against Riverside Military that I attended, Thacker made a point to attack the basket last night and had some good moments doing so. Providence struggled offensively out of the gate but Thacker had two difficult 1st quarter layups, one with his right hand and one with his left hand, that gave the Storm some life after going down 7-0. Once Providence had to play more urgently in the 2nd half, Thacker did more of the same, going into the paint fearlessly and giving multiple efforts to get points for his team. He gained valuable experience playing with the ball in his hands a lot this season and should continue to progress during the travel season as a guy who can play on the ball. Thacker visited Belmont last weekend; I think similar programs will be involved in his recruitment this summer.
2021 6’5” W Elijah Williams (Providence Christian)- 19 points, 8 rebounds.
Williams had a sub-par 1st half with only 4 points after settling for jumpers to start the game. He changed his approach in the 2nd half and was impressive with his slashing down the stretch. Williams can take contact, adjust, and still finish in traffic. When he makes up his mind to attack and get all the way to the rim, there aren’t many guys who can stop him from doing so. His combination of physical traits also results in him being a really good rebounder who can push in transition and fly down the court on his own. If he’s able to tighten up his ball-handling and shooting efficiency, Williams will have a handful of suitors once the summer ends.