Wednesday’s clash between Lick-Wilmerding and Stuart Hall was a contest between two of the Bay Counties League West’s premier boys’ basketball teams, as well as a showcase for two of its top players — Lick’s Marcus Wells and Stuart Hall’s Stephen Powell.
The highly anticipated showdown went to Wells as his Tigers won 64-56 and he outscored his sophomore counterpart 23-17. But don’t expect him to be checking the box score any time soon to see how he did on his head-to-head meeting with Powell.
"I don’t really think about that kind of thing," Wells said. "If I start focusing on personal matchups, I don’t play well. I know that for us to be successful I have to be thinking about the team all the time."
With that unique selflessness, Wells has bought into coach Eliot Smith’s strong belief that the team concept — all 13 players on the Tigers’ roster see playing time in every game — is the key for a successful season.
"I think Marcus is one of the best players we’ve ever had at this school and I think he’s the best point guard in The City," Smith said. "He is one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever seen. He could probably score whenever he wants, but he’s conditioned himself to where he knows the team always comes first and we’re best when he’s a distributor."
Wells’ play has been the catalyst this season for the Tigers, who lead the BCL West at 5-0 and are 12-4 overall.
The junior point guard is a proven scorer — he is averaging 16.8 points per game in BCL play — but the Tigers are most dangerous when Wells is creating opportunities for his teammates instead.
The rugged 6-foot point guard is also a strong rebounder and his defensive boards trigger the Tigers’ transition game, strengthened because of Wells’ excellent court vision.
"Marcus gets the ball down the floor to his teammates better than anyone in this league," Smith said. "He knows where his teammates are at all times and knows exactly where they like to have the ball and he makes it easy for them to score."
Playing in his third year on varsity for Smith, Wells has made steady improvements both on and off the court, making him all the more prepared for a college career.
"I’ve really worked hard on my grades to give me more options for college," said Wells, who mentioned UCLA as his dream school to play for. "It’s important to get into a good college for my future and I’m determined to play basketball in school, whether I’m on scholarship or not."