The nickname has followed Daezjon Giles for as long as he can remember. He’s not exactly sure how it started.
It’s the name he put on the basketball sign-up sheet in ninth grade. It’s what’s emblazoned on his Columbia warmup jacket. It’s what his parents call him when he walks through the front door.
“That was just something I grew up with,” Giles said. “I’ve gotten comfortable with it.”
Tookie is a jack-of-all-trades on the court. He’s a 6-foot-2 forward who plays like a guard. The senior’s versatile skills were on display when Columbia ran past Lancaster Mennonite 66-41 in a Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Four game at the Tide’s Kreiser Gym on Friday night.
Columbia (4-0 L-L, 14-2) left no doubt in a matchup of teams that were unbeaten in league play. The Crimson Tide had an 11-0 run and a 13-0 run in the first quarter alone. The lead was 17 points after a period and 23 heading into intermission.
Facing this team on this court is daunting. The Tide are a blur of speed and activity. These players unnerve opponents and force them to take shots they’d usually never take.
Giles is an unsung hero. He finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds while playing tough defense against David Weaver, Mennonite’s 6-7 center.
Aiden Miller, the only other senior in Columbia’s lineup, teamed up with Giles to hold Weaver to four points on 2-for-7 shooting through three quarters. They were each giving up plenty of height.
“One thing our coach says is to do your work early,” Miller said. “As soon as he crosses the white volleyball line, lean on him. Don’t let him walk down to the low post. They have to work more to get their touches.”
How Columbia, which is undersized, deals with taller players will determine whether the Tide is wearing gold come playoff time.
Columbia has lost just once since Dec. 3. It invoked the mercy rule with six minutes left against Mennonite (3-1, 10-6), which is still playing without All-State standout Camden Hurst.
“Tonight was the first time all season when the game was fun from start to finish,” Columbia coach Kerry Glover said. “It was fun watching them compete hard and share the basketball. Everybody was celebrating one another.”
Jordan Poole scored 15 points and Brelon Miller added 14 for Columbia, which will face Mennonite again Feb. 8. Hurst could be back for that one.
Giles arrived in Columbia as a freshman after attending Hand Middle School in Lancaster for seventh and eighth grades. He could tell right away his new team had potential.
“They always made it fun,” Giles said. “They made it easy to learn and grow. They taught me things that I’ll take later in life.”
Giles used to be a center as a middle schooler. There’s no concern about asking him to lock down opposing big men.
“Every time I give him a challenge, he embraces the challenge,” Glover said. “He meets it. No hesitation. That’s what you expect out of seniors.”
Giles spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench, laughing it up with his teammates and cheering on the reserves.
Columbia is having a great time. It could get better from here.
“This is my first year having a big impact on the team,” Giles said. “I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything. The atmosphere is great. The teammates here are great. We all work together. We play to the best of our ability.”
Glover was asked what name he calls Giles. It was the same as everyone else.
At the gym or in his home, he’s always Tookie.