By Corey Perez
EUCLID, OHIO – High school basketball is at its best when the stands are packed and you can feel the energy the minute you walk into the gym.
Tuesday night at Euclid High School was one of those nights, when the Garfield Heights Bulldogs came to the east side. Unfortunately for the Euclid Panther faithful, they saw the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs walk out of the gym victorious, 80-64.
Sometimes you can tell who is going to win a game before warmups even begin, not because of the talent involved but solely on the way a team enters the gym.
While the Euclid Panthers were celebrating with their junior varsity squad on their hard fought victory, the Garfield Heights Bulldogs slowly walked out onto the court.
They walked out as if they were on a business trip, not getting ready to play a tough road game. Most of this composure comes from Heights head coach Sonny Johnson, who does an excellent job of teaching his players that games are won between the ears, talent doesn’t always win.
Not every team has the opportunity to play in front of one of the great basketball coaches of their generation, but both teams had that opportunity on Tuesday with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in attendance. Coach Izzo was checking out two prospects in particular junior Alonzo Gaffney and freshman Meechie Johnson.
Gaffney in particular put on quite the show as he scored 31 points to go with 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Gaffney wasn’t the only Bulldog to entertain the packed Euclid bleachers, senior point guard Alex Heath (Mercyhurst recruit) dropped 10 dimes to go along with his 27 points.
Johnson, the freshman phenom, had a slow night in the stat books, especially compared to his 50 point performance last week, as he only had 11 points. Luckily for Johnson, he had himself quite the night off the court, as he received a scholarship offer from Georgetown University.
While Garfield Heights has numerous players already expecting to play college basketball, the Panthers on the other hand fly much more under the radar.
One player in particular deserves more love from recruiters and fans alike, and that player is Garvin Clarke. Clarke finished the game with 23 points, but his timely playmaking kept Euclid in the game most of the night. He has the ability to change up the pace and control entire segments of the game which really gave the Bulldog guards problems all night.
On a night where the lights were brighter for the Bulldogs, Clarke made sure everyone walked out of the gym remembering his name.
As the high school basketball season is only a few games in, there is plenty of time to go check out some of the talent in Northeast Ohio. Ohio is usually known as a football state, and while that may be true, there are plenty of basketball players worth the price of admission. Garfield’s next game is home vs. Orange (Thursday), while Euclid is home again Friday night against Solon.