By T. Scott Boatright
Giving everything he had – that’s how senior Bralyn Mayfield closed out his Lincoln Preparatory School basketball career.
But that “everything” – 32 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot – still wasn’t enough as the second-seeded Panthers fell 73-56 to No. 1 seed Northwood-Lena in the Division IV Boys Select School state championship at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
“We gave it all we had,” Mayfield said. “You’ve just got to execute on the little things. You’ve got to do what Coach said before the game. We should have …”
That “Coach” – Panthers head coach Antonio Hudson – knows the 6-4, 190-pound Mayfield truly did give his all in a physical game that was decided in the paint.
As well as Mayfield played in the paint along with fellow senior Panther Kobe Mack, who added eight points but only three rebounds – that wasn’t enough against the Gators’ duo of Omarion Layssard, who led all scorers with 34 points while adding 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Radarrius Morris, who added 15 points and a game-hight 12 boards.
“That was a war inside,” Hudson said. “The score doesn’t really show what kind of game it was. It was a fight – our big men against their men on the boards. It was a war. But they just made more plays than we did, especially with their offensive rebounding. A lot of their scoring came on second-chance points.”
“I knew it was going to be won or lost inside the paint and I’m proud of the way my guys fought. But in sports, somebody has to lose. Today it was us.”
While their on the basketball court relationship as a coach and player might be ended, Hudson said he and Mayfield will always be connected.
“Beyond basketball, he knows I love him like a son,” Hudson said. “And that will never change. No matter where he goes in life. And that’s all of them. There ain’t nothing they can do about it.
“But Bralyn’s had that in him all his career. He just had to find his niche. He just had to find his way. And after preaching to him that ‘I believe in you,” he started believing in himself. Not to take away from anyone else’s performance, but he played his tail off, too. I’m proud of him for that. Whatever may happen from here – college basketball, college football, whatever, I know he’ll do great things because greatness is in him.”
Mayfield is soft-spoken for his stature, but while he sometimes seems quiet, Hudson said there’s a lot more lurking underneath that outward appearance.
“He’s a clown, he’s a jokester,” Hudson said. “I remember when he was born. His mom and I went to church together. We were on the usher board together. So I’ve watched him grow up from the start and will always be there for him.”
Hudson said one of his upcoming focuses will be helping Mayfield figure out what lies ahead.
“He definitely has a chance to play college basketball,” Hudson said. “But these days the (NCAA) transfer portal is killing the chances of so many high school kids deserving of scholarships. So we’re looking at the possibility of junior colleges or maybe even prep schools.
“But he definitely has the potential of playing on the next level. And the thing is, he really has more guard skills that he can take advantage of. He’s got an outside shot and can pass. But he had the role he had with us because he had enough size and ability and we needed him in the paint.”
Mayfield, meanwhile, has another focus he plans to focus on in upcoming days and weeks.
“I plan on going to college,” Mayfield said. “I’d like to play basketball. And I can play football, too. But I don’t know where I’ll go to college or what kind of chance I’ll get as far as college sports. I’m just going to wait and see.
“Right now I’m just ready to get out there with the (Lincoln Prep) baseball team and start pitching. We’ll have to wait and see about all the rest of it. I’m just going to wait and see what God has in mind for me.”
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