Entering Wednesday night’s Regional Championship game against Ardmore High School, Southeast High School’s LaDainian Fields and Michael Graham Jr. weren’t considered top 100 players for the 2024 class in Oklahoma. Well, a gym full of energetic fans, both from Southeast and Ardmore, can attest that both Spartan sophomores are more than top 100 players in their sophomore class. Instead, they’re top 100 players in the state already.
The Spartans are Regional champions after defeating Ardmore 63-61 in a buzzer-beating finish by senior guard/forward Marcel Perry. But, two players that kept Southeast’s offense flowing throughout the entire game were Fields and Graham.
Graham is a stereotypical point guard that often makes smart, level-headed decisions while running the offense. He doesn’t display much personality on the court, which is probably why he doesn’t seem rattled or even overly frustrated on the rare occasion that he makes mistakes while running the offense.
In Wednesday’s Regional championship game, Ardmore’s fans packed out the stands, while Southeast’s home side of the gym was packed as well. Both sides, including both benches, were loud and electrifying. Those levels intensified every time the officials called something questionable (which was every 30 seconds to a minute). Through it all, Graham was calm, keeping everything at bay for the Spartans, even as the team seemed to unravel a bit.
Fast-forwarding to the game-winning sequence at halfcourt, Graham was partly responsible for the defensive pressure, an underrated aspect of his game, which led to Perry’s game-winning floater.
As for Fields, Southeast’s combo-guard, the same applies but he’s more of an attacker than Graham. While Graham is more of a perimeter-dominant guard and a shooter, Fields thrives when he’s attacking the basket. That’s when he’s most effective. He’s very physical, and at 6-foot-2, he holds his own while driving the lane. His athleticism gives him an advantage in his elevation and plays a part when pulling down defensive and offensive rebounds.
Just like Graham, Fields is calm, cool, and collected on the court, which is such a valuable trait for a ball-dominant guard like himself and extremely impressive for a 15-year old sophomore in high school amid a close game and hostile environment.
Graham scored 16 points and tallied six assists and two steals. Fields also had an impressive night, scoring 16 points and pulling down six rebounds.
The fact that these two guards are unranked in their class is blasphemous. They’ve led the Spartans to a (19-2) season and are primary contributors to their 11-game winning streak that dates back to mid-January. There have been remarks about their strength of schedule being the reason these two haven’t earned much respect statewide, but their win against Ardmore helps that narrative. With the Area Tournament just days away, and the State Tournament a week away, these two will have the opportunity to change the narrative surrounding their names.
Outstanding! These young men can play with even more resolve knowing that their talent on the court is recognized.