Henry Clay’s Keaston Brown spent much of his freshman year having to guard and be guarded by 11th Region Player of the Year Isaiah “Pun” Tisdale, now at Vincennes University. That experience might have been tougher than having his dad as coach, so far.
On Friday night, in a matchup that pitted two young teams, each with coaches starting their sophomore sons, Henry Clay came out the victor, 67-58, in their home opener.
Brown, son of Blue Devils Coach Daniel Brown, scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter including back-to-back three-pointers to start the game, and helped stake Henry Clay to an early lead it would never relinquish.
“He expects to be one of our better players,” Daniel Brown said. “He’s worked hard. … It’s fun to watch him. But coaching him different things — he’s like the other players, and he knows that.”
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“We had the father-son talk about him coaching. You’ve got all eyes on you,” Keaston said. “It’s kind of different, but, I mean, I love playing for my dad.”
Tates Creek’s Isaiah Allen played more significant minutes for his dad last year, and had 12 points and six rebounds for the Commodores.
“It’s funny … it’s a blessing for us to coach our sons, but I don’t think sometimes it’s a blessing for them,” Coach Michael Allen said. “But I think both kids are going to be spectacular players when they get to be juniors and seniors.”
After making consecutive layups that put Henry Clay (1-0) up 20-7 to end the first quarter, Keaston Brown came down with a cramp that took him out of his rhythm. Fortunately for Henry Clay, three other Devils scored in double figures, led my junior forward Justin Mitchell who had 16 points. Mitchell also grabbed six rebounds and was 6-for-9 at the free throw line.
“Man, I got off to a slow start … I missed a couple shots,” said Mitchell, the only Henry Clay player to notch substantial minutes last season on a team that had eight seniors. “But when I got to the rack, and I started to get a feel for the game, it was coming easy. Just trying to get to the line and just knocking down free throws.”
Tates Creek (0-2) made a run in the second quarter, scoring eight unanswered capped by LaRon Warren’s field goal that cut the Henry Clay lead to 25-24 with 1:12 left in the half.
But a Commodore offensive foul set up a Mitchell basket, and a turnover gave the Devils a chance to hold for the half’s final possession. Ramond Jackson nailed a three-pointer with 3 seconds left in the half to push the lead back out to 30-24.
Over the next 10 minutes, Henry Clay broke away, leading by as many as 21 when Andreus Green’s basket made it 55-34 with 6:15 to play in the game. Green finished with 15 points.
Freshman point guard Amari Taylor led the Commodores with 22 points, including going 3-for-6 from the three-point line. Sophomore forward Harris Hawkins had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds for Henry Clay.
Despite a game that saw 55 fouls and was halting, at times, both coaches took positives from the early-season matchup.
“My kids played hard tonight. We had some opportunities to get in the game,” Allen said. “When you’ve got a young team with this much inexperience, all you want to see is them play hard and make improvements game by game. Hopefully, by the second half of the season, we’ll be more competitive.”