Robert Carr Jr. at the free throw line. Carr Jr., is Martin Luther King Jr. high flyer. (Photo) By Bryant Kizer.
When Martin Luther King Jr. High School boy's basketball head coach Jeff Priah started this 2016-17 season, he thought this was going to be a dream year.
So far, it has been that and even more for the Crusaders from East 71st and Hough. The Crusaders are enjoying the school's best season in history. They are 10-0 in the Senate Athletic League. They are 13-3. They scored a school's best 105 points against Horizon League Academy. They finally beat East Tech. They have clinched the four-team Senate playoffs that will begin next week.
The roster has a handful of seniors that been through the hardship of losing. Last year, they began to get a since that they are going to be great.
"These are really great kids and they grew up together," said Priah. "They also run cross country together. So they know each other on and off the court."
"Last season, we saw strides that told me we can do this. We can be the best team that MLK has ever had," said senior Robert Carr Jr. Carr is their 6-foot-1 high flyer. He has hops like Vince Carter. He loves getting to the rim. He averages in double-figures. He had 20 points in their 105-49 victory over Horizon Science Academy.
"Carr brings us energy ever game. He's a guy that can bring it every night," said Priah.
Another high flyer is 6-foot-3 senior Ronald Vann. Vann is an excellent shooter. He can shoot the three-ball. He will remind you of a young Ron Harper. He can defend and he is great leader on the court. Vann leads the team in scoring. He has eclipse the 20-point barrier six times. He had a season-high of 27 points in their victory over Horizon Science Academy. He could be the league's MVP.
"From being a skinny freshman and now he is a solid leader. Vann has grown not only on the basketball court, he has grown off the court," said Priah.
Operating the back court is 5-foot-9 Denzel Carter. Carter can shoot the three-ball, but Priah would like him to get the ball to his shooters and play great defense. Immanuel Brown is a solid 6-foot guard. He has scored in double-figures in five games. He is an excellent three-point shooter.
When Priah is looking for big man he goes to 6-foot-7 junior Sherman Kyle and 6-foot-5 sophomore Dion Hardy Kyle is one of the reasons that they beat East Tech. In the second-half he was relentless on the glass. Kyle scored all of his nine points in the second-half, helping them to a 55-51 victory. Hardy runs the floor great. He is great on the board and is a great defender.
With all of this senior leadership, this might be a one-and-done season. They only have five players on junior varsity. So the best time to win the Senate title is now.
After the Senate playoffs, the Crusaders hopes to make a dent in the Sectionals coming up in later part of February.