AAAA boys: Columbia 50, Marist 41

For one half, it was the Taaj Shamsid-Deen Show for Columbia, as the senior scored 15 of his team’s 19 points.

The problem – his Eagles only led Marist by 4.

His teammates got involved after that, leaving him with just one second-half field goal and a fourth straight trip to the state semifinals with a 50-41 home win.

When Marist completed a 9-0 run with a short Cam Wiley basket to start the second half, just three players had scored all of Columbia’s points.

Shamsid-Deen had been brilliant, but Columbia coach Kerry Sandifer knew his team probably couldn’t win if his best player had to score 40 in order to do it.

“I knew that we needed to get some other people involved,” Sandifer said. “What we told them was to play around Taaj, penetrate and make themselves available. They were kind of standing around. Once we started doing that, we were able to get some good shots.”

From that point, Columbia (26-3) went on an 11-2 run, with four different players scoring for the Eagles during that stretch. That extended their lead to 30-19 with 2:08 left in the third quarter.

Despite committing only three second-half turnovers – they had eight in the first half – Marist (23-5) simply couldn’t close the gap. The War Eagles tried pressing, trapping, double-teaming Shamsid-Deen, but Columbia’s lead never shrank to fewer than 8 after that key third-quarter Columbia run.

Shamsid-Deen finished with a more-quiet-than-usual 24 points, getting all but 2 of his 9 second-half points from the free-throw line.

Instead, it was guys like Tuesday Amberslay and Maurice Rivers and Jordan Anderson and Kyle Wallace carrying the scoring load for Columbia down the stretch.

And, on defense, the Eagles had their eyes on Quinton Stephens and Bobby Perez. In the last meeting, Perez had 20 points and Stephens had 15, and Columbia had to work hard for a two-point overtime win.

“We definitely wanted to take away Quinton; he hurt us the first time, and he scored 15 the second time, but he had to really work for it,” Sandifer said. “The guy who really got of was, of course, Perez. We wanted to make sure we were on those two guys; we didn’t want them to have any breathing room.”

It worked, limiting Stephens to 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting and 1 of 7 from 3-point range, while Perez went scoreless.

Columbia is two wins away from its fourth consecutive state title. The Eagles will play at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Fort Valley State University.

29 comments Add your comment

IDK

February 27th, 2013
9:33 pm

Marist don’t talk trash if you can back the talk. Just admit those Eagles are bad to the bone.

Great Writing

February 27th, 2013
9:46 pm

Columbia played outstanding… but what the writer failed to mention was Perez played about 1 minute. He was obviously hurt

G-dub

February 27th, 2013
9:57 pm

So whats your point?

Eagle 1

February 27th, 2013
10:00 pm

Way to go Eagles, one game at a time. Two more to go!! Confidence and Heart is the key guys stay focused! Now let’s see who crack underpressure???

Manny fresh

February 27th, 2013
10:40 pm

I thought Kiair was playing this game what’s the word on him???

KL Southside

February 27th, 2013
11:02 pm

There were a lot of college scouts and AAU coaches at this game, which was intense from the beginning. I wish the AJC author would give more details about the game in his post. Taj from Columbia was spectacular in the first half. He was hitting fade away 3’s with people in his face. He was slashing and putting on a show in the lane. I love his court awareness. The second half was a different story for Taj though when the Marist coach finally put the fast guard Cam Wiley on him. The sophomore Wiley shut Taj down in the second half and ended up with 17 or 16 points himself. It seemed like the two guards, Taj in the first half and Wiley in the second half scored most of the points for their teams. Wiley had no help offensively for Marist though. Their big center David was in foul trouble. The Bobby Perez kid landed on his head in the game Saturday against Shaw and shouldn’t have suited up for Marist. I heard he had a concussion. Don’t know how true that is but he wasn’t aggressive at all. I think he played like 1-2 minutes. As for the Ga Tech kid, Columbia didn’t shut Quinton down. He just didn’t hit the open shots that he usually makes. He did have a spectacular dunk. I have to give it up to Columbia’s coaching staff for trusting the supporting cast and calling their number in the second half. Those guys made the plays down the stretch when Taj was not scoring. That could be a huge confidence boost when they get to the State Finals. The next round game will be South Atlanta against Eagles Landing. Definitely will be watching that game. A lot of talent to recruit.

Eagles Fans

February 27th, 2013
11:14 pm

hold up who shut tahj down were we watching the same game, the only thing was in the 2nd half marist ran another player at tahj and like a point guard he gave it up to the open person so what are you talking about shut down, now if you wanna talk about shut down I thought #22 was suppose to be the man for marist we made him work for everything and you see what his stat line was yeah he got a dunk on a fast break on somebody but we got the points right back because he got a tech for jumping in our player face afterward, klair was still out for us but you dont hear us complaining you play with who you got marist is a solid team but just not a championship team

Eagles Fans

February 27th, 2013
11:18 pm

@manny fresh congrats on the win tonight and yeah klair still is out due to a situation ill rather not post on here but hopefully he can come back before the season is over

Hoopscoop

February 27th, 2013
11:28 pm

Columbia was the superior team and Taaj was the best player on the court by a mile. Marist’s offense against man to man is pathetic. Running isolation for Stephens on the post and feeding him from the wing by a 6′10″ guy was ar recipe,for disaster. Wiley was the only one who could beat them off the dribble with Perez limited by concussion symptoms. Not sure if this game helped MAcClairs resume. He must be,looking to leave Marist with the cupboard bare next year. Bring on South Atlanta in the ’ship!

1trucker

February 28th, 2013
6:45 am

Nobody shut Taj down…..!!! He passed to the open person.. he doesn’t shoot everything, lol

Reality Check

February 28th, 2013
8:28 am

Not a fan of the transfer rules or lack there of in Georgia that said if I had to pay 15,000 plus a year to send my kid to a school where he sat on the bench while the scholarship players played I would be really upset.
Likewise if I lived in the district and kids played that did not live there I would be upset just not $15,000 dollars worth.

Da Coach

February 28th, 2013
8:47 am

Great game for Marist and Columbia. Deen was unstoppable in the first half, and he slowed down in the 2nd half because he didnt have to do anything since Columbia had built their lead. Quinton was mauled when he posterized that poor Columbia defender on the breakaway; I think he was frustrated with the no call and let his emotions get the best of him. The whole situation after that was confusing with the one ref trying to T up Marist’s coach, and then him ultimately not getting one. That said, the technical sealed Marist’s fate and took away any momentum for a late comeback.
Props to Marist on an awesome season, and good luck to Columbia–Deen can play.

bbb3456

February 28th, 2013
9:34 am

@Reality Check: Better check your reality. There are no athletic scholarships at Marist, and Marist does not have the history of bringing in high school athletes from public schools for a year or two (see Caleb King at GAC, the Davis kid from Tucker to Pius, the Wesleyan transfers, etc.)
If you want to find dirty dealings in high school athletics, look elsewhere. The priests at Marist could give a rats @$$ about beating some public school in basketball as compared to their 112 year old history of academic excellence.

Decatur 4 Life

February 28th, 2013
9:45 am

Manny fresh

Yeah I think he might be done for the season, he was given some additional disciplinary action on top of what he already been given. Tough situation though I can’t go deeper into it he did what most kids would do at that age in a situation like that. Hope he’s able to bounce back

DST

February 28th, 2013
9:47 am

No one shut Tahj down. His teammates were more involved in the second half which is what they were suppose to do. Tahj gave the ball up to the open man to make shots…

Hoopscoop

February 28th, 2013
9:57 am

bbb3456. Almost correct. i think Stephens transferred to Marist from Lakeside and Wiley played for SPX feeder team before showing up at Marist on “scholarship”? Enter your comments here

Decatur 4 Life

February 28th, 2013
10:07 am

bbb3456

What planet do you live on? Marist has been doing this since I was coming up in school and I’m now 33 years old, you can act naive all you want but reality is even there at Marist it’s done. Ask Chadwick about him and his coaches making runs at middle school kids on the southside of Dekalb County, now he may tell you something different but I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. Do get it twisted, Marist maybe a fine academic institution but they want to win in athletics as well!

Decatur 4 Life

February 28th, 2013
10:13 am

KL Southside

I thought we were more physical with Stephens this time around and it seemed to make all the difference although like you say he did have some open looks. They knocked him around a little bit and sometimes that stuff sticks around in your head even when your open, still he played a tough game hope to see him do well at GT.

KL Southside

February 28th, 2013
11:19 am

@ Decatur 4 Life, yeah, they were very physical with Stephens in the paint. More than the last two times. You are right, I thought they got into his head which is why he got the tech on the dunk. Credit to the coach for having his players ready for Stephens. I think when he bulks up a little, he will be very good at Ga Tech. As for all of the “not shut Taj down” comments, read the AJC article again. Taj was having his way in the first half. Taj is a left hander and was getting layups at will until the Wiley kid started defending and pushing him to his right. If you look at the stats, Taj didn’t have that many assists. He got rid of the ball because he didn’t have a shot. Credit to him for reading the defense and not forcing the issue. He got his teammates involved which all great players do by swinging the ball around the perimeter. Getting shut down from scoring is not a knock on Taj because he responded in other aspects of the game (i.e. Steals, pressure, ect.).

@Hoopscoop I don’t know the inner workings of Marist but I know a little bit about a few other guys. The Cam Wiley kid is not on scholoarship and is a straight “A” student at Marist. His parents live in the “nice” part of Cascade and do not qualify for a scholarship. A kid that is academically smart with bball skills at that young age is a “gold mine” for college schools. That is one of the reasons my employer and a lot of other people (Tenn, FL, Cornell, ect.) are following him closely. I know Taj is committed to Auburn but….if we could have Wiley and Taj or the kid from South Atlanta in the same backcourt in college. Oh my!

Eagles Fans

February 28th, 2013
12:46 pm

the reason tahj scored so much in the 1st half is because he was singled covered and its nobody on marist who can stay in front of him without help, in the 2nd half marist sent 2 people at him and he gave it up to the open man like the point guard is suppose to do so I’m not understanding what you trying to say

BallSoHard

February 28th, 2013
1:17 pm

@ Decatur 4 Life – Lets not forget about Dominique Oden the super freshman that started every game for the girls’ quad this year. I watched her lead Chapel Hill MS girls to the Dekalb County MS championship game last year. The girl was practically unstoppable! I went to a SWD game this year to watch her play and found out from a parent, she took a scholarship to Marist. If Marist can get a (girls basketball) kid from SWD there has to be scholarship money involved. All they do is compete for championships every year there.

Marist Parent

February 28th, 2013
2:19 pm

Marist does not award athletic scholarships.

***
Congratulations to Columbia on a great win last night. Unfortunately the War Eagles fell short. Nevertheless, both the boys and girls varsity squads had a great season.

Thanks

February 28th, 2013
4:44 pm

@ Marist Parent—Thanks for remaining humble inspite of the loss and for giving kudos to Columbia. It was a hard fought game between two Great programs. Your Coach had a Great game plan but those open shot did not fall or maybe Columbia defense had something to do with it but anyway it was a Great game.

bbb3456

February 28th, 2013
4:49 pm

Hoopscoop: By that logic, I guess all the Marist kids “transferred” in since Marist does not have lower school. Wrong about both kids you mentioned also.

Hoopscoop

March 1st, 2013
7:31 am

bbb3456 Marist starts in 7th grade but someone who starts in 10th grade and played at another high school in 9th grade like Stephens would be considered a transfer . Is that logical in your superior mind? Btw I’m right about both kids and your living in fantasyland.

Da Coach

March 1st, 2013
8:40 am

^^I can assure you that you don’t know much about the process of a kid getting into Marist.
That said, I think Columbia will win it all. Taaj was very focused against Marist and his teammates play off his tenacity from what I could tell. If they keep it up I see no reason why they won’t win it all.

KL Southside

March 1st, 2013
11:34 am

@Eagles fan, they had the 6′8″ forward in Stephens guarding him in the first half. Taj blew by him everytime. Marist only trapped on the full court inbound pass. In the half court offense, it was one on one. I know you are a fan looking through rose-colored glasses but this is from a neutral standpoint. Read the article. Taj only scored 2 points from the field in the second half.
@Hoopscoop, the Wiley kid started in the 7th grade at Marist. He went to a Catholic elementary school in Decatur and now attends a Catholic high school. How is that recruiting? Did Marist recruit him in 1st grade? You really shouldn’t say slanderous things as fact. You lose your credibility. Congrats to Columbia and South Atlanta! I will be watching closely.

war eagle superfan

March 1st, 2013
11:13 pm

When did commentary about a high school varsity game turn into attacks on players personally? I am really surprised the AJC didn’t screen these comments regarding minor players. I would hate to see what the comments would be regarding our players if Marist won. Let’s continue a mature analysis of these games and not try to personally assault players with inaccurate information.

free

March 2nd, 2013
10:37 am

i dont get it.first we all agree that he was the best player on the court.we all recognize his tanacity,his will to win as well as his high bball iq.so why would we believe that he was shut. down.bball101 says u get double teamed, u give it up,.besides the wiley kid did make a diffrence. but it was on offense.didnt see that much in the shut down dept.