Harvesters flourish in freedom offense

By Kevin Cushingberry Jr., Editor in Chief

Sitting on the bench during a timeout, sophomore guard D.J. Jordan told his Eastfield teammates if they got him the ball on a fast break, he would finish at the rim. Moments later, Jordan was hanging off the basket with a defender under him, two points on the scoreboard and a chance for another at the free-throw line.

Plays such as these occurred often in the Harvesters’ first four games, which they won by a combined 158 points. Jordan, who is averaging 15 points per game, has flourished alongside several other newcomers in what coach Anthony Fletcher calls his “freedom offense.”

“I love it,” Jordan said. “My teammates feed off of me and I feed off of them. Our chemistry and the style of play lets all of us shine.”

Freshman forward Ricardo Artis said the way the team has bonded since the first practice of the season wasn’t something he was expecting. Artis redshirted at North Lake in 2011, and joined the Eastfield squad in August after sitting out for a year.

“It’s crazy because most of us come from different cities, but our chemistry is great,” Artis said. “When I see [Jordan] get a dunk or [freshman guard Walter Bell] get a dunk, I’m as excited as if it was me.”

Dunks aren’t the only reason for excitement this season. Sophomore captain Joshua Shockey made six 3-pointers in Eastfield’s first home game of the season, a 144-102 victory over Open Bible College on Nov. 4.

Redshirt freshman guard Quinton Jones also scored 12 points on four 3-pointers in that game and added a 20-point performance the next night against El Centro. Jones, who is averaging 16 points, said his teammates have influenced his ability to make shots.

“I have to give credit to them,” he said. “They’re getting me the ball when I’m open, and I’m making shots. We’ve started off this year a whole lot better than we did last season.”

Jones was awarded a redshirt season after breaking his leg in the Harvesters’ third game last season. He was able to travel with the team last year and said this year’s  team has some work to do before conference play begins.

“Our offense is good, but we need to improve on defense,” Jones said. “Just being more focused on the little things. We’ll be ready by the time we need to.”

The Harvesters’ first conference game won’t come until Jan. 11. Sophomore captain Andrew Maxie said the team’s first major test will be Nov. 23 at Paris Junior College. Eastfield beat Paris, a Division I junior college, by three points last December.

The Harvesters were ranked fourth in the NJCAA Division III basketball preseason poll, ahead of two teams they defeated in the national tournament last year: No. 5 MassBay and No. 8 Caldwell Tech.

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