Four Cordia players, including two newly eilgible Canadian transfers, scored in double figures Friday as the Lions led a rout of the June Buchanan Crusaders.
Emmanuel Owootoah and Marlon King made their first appearances in Cordia uniforms after a judge granted a temporary injunction only hours earlier, allowing them to play in their first KHSAA sanctioned event. The athletic association had ruled them ineligible a couple weeks prior.
Owootoah is reportedly attracting interest from a few Division I colleges, including UCLA and Tennessee. He scored 10 points to go with three assists in his debut with Cordia, while King scored a team-high 19 points. Both played limited minutes as the Lions maintained a significant lead over the Crusaders into the second half.
Cordia beat June Buchanan in a close contest earlier in the season, and the Crusaders played the Lions tight early on this time, but by halftime Cordia would hold a 37-28 lead and then extend their advantage in the second half. They would go on to pick up the 75-51 win.
Coach Rodrick Rhodes said before the game that he expected Owootoah and King to log decent minutes despite not having been able to practice with the team so far this season. He described Owootoah as a play maker who has the ability to score and get his teammates involved, while King will add to the Lions’ offensive scheme as well.
“When they’re in top shape, I know our transition game will be a lot better because Emmanuel is like a one-man fast break, and Marlon is such a great shooter,” Rhodes said. “They’re just bringing a ton of experience and their basketball IQ is off the charts.”
Cordia will move on to the 14th Region All “A” Classic on Wednesday, when they will take on the winner between Owsley County and Hazard, who are set to play Monday. Hazard is the odds-on favorite to advance over Owsley, and Rhodes said if his team plays the Bulldogs next week it will be a big test for his players.
“They’re a great team with a great coach,” Rhodes said. “We have a lot of respect for them.”
Rhodes added that while his team played as a unit on Friday, he didn’t think they played as sharp as they could have, and that likely won’t come for another two to three games.
“I think the Hazard game would be a big test,” he said. “That will let me know a lot about my team. And then I think we need two more (games) after that, then I think we’ll get a pretty good feel for the team and the rotations.”
Cordia stats: Marlon King: 19 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block; A.J. Tagaloa: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists; Dondre Warren: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 assist; Emmanuel Owootoah: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 assists; Matt Neace: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal; Robby Rios: 5 points, 7 rebounds; Braxton Tackett: 4 points, 6 rebounds; Markquis Nowell: 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 3 assists; A.J. Chisolm: 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist; Justin Cornett: 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal; Zack Owens: 3 rebounds; Stefon Hill: 1 rebound