Major factor: Kei Juan Major puts up 31 in IR basketball season opener
Junior guard Kei Juan Major lived up to his name last Tuesday night, playing a “key” role in the Indian River High School basketball team’s “major” season-opening victory against St. Thomas More, 63-37.
Playing without senior forward Jaevon “B.B.” Holland, who was serving a one-game suspension for a controversial altercation at the end of last season, Major led the charge in putting up 31 of the Indians’ 63 points.
“It was hard without the defense and the energy that he brings,” Major described of what Holland’s presence on the court means to the team. He went on to commend junior guard Shaquille Hall and senior forward London Tucker’s defensive play in Holland’s absence.
“I think everybody kind of stepped up,” explained head coach Mike Fabber. “We were missing two starters — Brian Arthur and Jaevon. Shaq Hall stepped up and ran point pretty well, limited turnovers, kept us playing our pace. KiAnté Sturgis stepped up — first game starting as a sophomore — but also London [Tucker] and even DeAndre [Cooper] and ’Shaye [Waters]. Two guys that we don’t normally ask a lot of had to split time and minutes. It was a good group effort for the most part.”
The Ravens got on the board first and early, 2-0, with a foul-drawing charge to the rim, but that would be the only time the non-conference opponent would lead all night, after missing the “and one” opportunity. Major would quickly answer for the Indians, igniting the crowd with a long three-point jumper to go up 3-2. He would add two more three-pointers before the end of the night.
Major was the only IR player with double-digit points in the matchup, but his brother, sophomore guard KiAnté Sturgis, put up nine, going three for four from the line on the night and putting together two single-handed steal-and-score plays.
Tucker played a big role in the Indians’ rebounding game all night and put up four points. Hall also added four points, and senior Deonshaye Waters added five.
With the Indians up more than 30 points in the fourth quarter, Fabber opted to pull some of his starters to generate some experience for his younger players, who fared well against the Raven starters.
While Fabber and his team will take the 1-0 start, they believe they could have played better.
“We could have kept our pace, our game [better],” he stated, “I think for a while we got caught up in their game. We have to work on our foul trouble a little bit and keeping our pace, but first game you’re supposed to have things like that to work on. If I didn’t have anything to worry about, I’d be worried.”
A win is a win nonetheless, and this one put the Indians at 1-0 on the season, with their game against Lake Forest last week rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 4, at 3 p.m. at Indian River High School.
The Indians were set to travel to Seaford High School on Thursday, Dec. 19, (after Coastal Point press time) to face the 1-1 Blue Jays in their first conference game of the year. Seaford is coming off a 70-65 loss at Laurel High School but started off the season with a 74-56 win at home against Delmar.
“It should be a good game,” said Fabber of the Dec. 19 matchup. “They’re a tough team. We’re a tough team. It’s a big game for the Henlopen. We’ll come ready and they’ll come ready, and the best team wins.”
Holland was expected to be back in action for that game and the rest of the three-game road stint, in which IR will travel to the Wicomico Civic Center to face Great Mills on Friday, Dec. 27, and Colonel Richardson High School on Saturday, Dec. 28. The games are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.