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February 24, 2011
Saline comes from behind to beat Eagles, 57-54
By Kevin Dobey
Pheonix not quite ready
Last Tuesday I got to see one of the most impressive basketball games of the season. But what was almost even more impressive than the game was the fact that so many other people wanted to see the action too. The game, of course, was the matchup between the Ypsilanti and Huron boys’ basketball teams. Huron had to travel to the unfriendly confines of Ypsilanti High School to try to hand the Phoenix their first loss of the season. And they succeeded, defeating Ypsilanti 73-53 in a game that wasn’t ever really close after the first quarter. But that didn’t stop the crowd, which was comprised of over 1,200 screaming fans, from taking in the game. “It was a big crowd out there,” Huron coach Waleed Samaha said. “But we’re used to that.” Huron had no trouble playing in front of the mob. After all, this is a team that played in the Class A State Finals last year. So far this season, the River Rats have played in packed gyms around the state, taking on the likes of Romulus, Dayton Dunbar and Kalamzoo Central. This group is used to playing against the top opponents and in front of the biggest crowds. Ypsilanti however, couldn’t boast the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, the Phoenix have been one of the most pleasant surprises of all this season when it comes to prep basketball. Ypsilanti managed to start the season 14-0. That’s an outstanding feat for any team. But for a Class A squad, that really means something. It means the Phoenix should be in the conversation for a
PLEASE SEE LARSON/2-B
half,” said Saline head coach Jay Plitzuweit, “give them credit, they really come after you.” Skyline’s athleticism across the board forced 11 turnovers and kept the pace quick during the first half. The Eagles’ Jarrius Mann provided a first half highlight with a spectacular one-handed put back dunk near the end of the half, one of many offensive rebounds that were present in the first half that seemed to disappear in the second. Saline was down by 15 near the end of the first half and then went on a little run to bring the game to 30-19. “We gave up those four points at the end of the first half which I thought were going to be big and then Saline owned the first 3 to 4 minutes of the second half,” Skyline coach Mike Lovelace said. “Then they were at home, and anything can happen with those shooters they got and they hit some great shots.” One of those shooters who With video sparked a 17-8 run for Saline online was Reece Dils. With two three’s he went into the half with six points. But in the third quarter he came out firing and hit three three’s in the third quarter and added another in the fourth. He finished with a game-high 20 points. David Hendrickson, another one of those good shooters, added 11 for the Hornets. Skyline star Theron Wilson was kept in check for most of the first half only scoring six points. But he also stepped it up in the second half, scoring 12 even though he was in foul trouble for much of the half picking up his third midway through the third and his fourth with 3 minutes to go. “He wasn’t able to be as aggressive as he usually is, and I wasn’t sure whether to keep him in on defense because we needed him to guard their best shooters and he was just tentative enough that they got some good looks,” said Lovelace. Jordan Woods and Sambandan added 11 points for the Eagles. Although he may not have been as aggressive as always, Wilson was able to find success driving the lane in the second half. He found space where there appeared to be none a few times, finishing with a 360-degree, basically no-look layup with around a
PLEASE SEE STUNG/2-B
Skyline’s Jordan Woods
With under a minute to play in their Southeastern Conference Red matchup with Ann Arbor Skyline, Saline’s Garrett Stark hit a three and two clutch free throws to solidify a huge comeback win for the Hornets 57-54. “I know my team’s proud of me, I got a great kick out from Derek (Owings) and I felt good shooting all day in practice yesterday so I let it fly and it paid off,” Stark said of his three after the game. Stark scored eight of his 11 points on the night in the final three minutes of the game. Saline found themselves down for most of the game, going into the half down 30-19 and trailing at the end of each quarter. After scoring the first bucket of the game, they did not take a lead until under 5 minutes to play when a free throw by Michael Smutny put the Hornets up 45-44. Skyline jumped out to an early lead thanks to two quick threes by Sakthi Sambandan and another from Clark Jack all within the first 4 minutes of the game. That, coupled with a tough pressure defense, led to a 16-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. “Their pressure really turned us over in the first
Baptist Park no trouble for Greenhills boys
By Mike Larson
Irish skate to win in 3OT thirller
Richard wins Catholic League championship
By Mike Larson
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Photo by Mike Larson/A2 JOURNAL
Greenhills’ Al Braun goes up for a shot against Baptist Park.
Sometimes it all comes down to free throws. On Friday night at Greenhills, the Gryphons’ game against Taylor Baptist Park wasn’t exactly won at the charity stripe, but some hot shooting from the line down the stretch With definitely helped. video The Gyrphons online won the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference game 65-52, but the game was very close early on. After jumping out to a 6-0 lead to open the game, the Gryphons let the Wildcats climb right back into it. Baptist Park went on an 8-2 run in the first quarter to close the gap. The Wildcats continued to play well, eventually taking their first lead of the game at 4:38 in the second quarter when Kirk Thomas hit a three-pointer to make the score 20-19. The Gryphons didn’t help themselves much from the free throw line, hitting just three of their 12 free shots. However, after Greenhills
scored four unanswered points to end the frame, the Gryphons held a slim advantage at halftime, leading 29-27 at the break. In the locker room, Greenhills’ coach Andrew Wright said he addressed his team and told them to focus. “We knew we had to get things together and be sounder,” he said. “We were rushing a lot and not doing what we needed to do.” The coach also said that Thomas, who hit three three-pointers in the first half, was getting too many looks. “(Thomas) was really hitting a lot of shots, and we knew we had to play better defense,” he said. “So we talked about how to contain him.” The halftime talk worked, as Greenhills came out after the break and started to build its lead back up. The Gryphons outscored Baptist Park 12-8 in the third quarter and the team’s defense held Thomas scoreless in the frame. Matt Jong opened up the fourth quarter by scoring back-to-back jump shots to give
PLEASE SEE GREENHILLS/2-B
There are few words impressive enough to appropriately describe the Gabriel Richard hockey team’s Catholic High School League championshipclinching game on Sunday, but “epic” might just be one of them. The Fighting Irish took on Allen Park Cabrini at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s over the weekend, and Richard came away with a 4-3 win. Although both teams scored three goals each in the first three periods of play, the “epic” part of the game didn’t come in regulation. Rather, it came in overtime. To be more precise, triple overtime. After skating to a tie in regulation and two extra periods, the Richard team finally got on the board in the third overtime. To be fair, though, it only took 16 seconds of the third
extra frame for Tyler Staub to lead his team to victory. Staub intercepted a pass and broke towards Cabrini goalie Ryan Adams. Staub fired a slick wrist shot past Adams to light the lamp and put the CHSL trophy in the hands of the Irish. Special teams was the key for Gabriel Richard, as the team successfully killed off 11 penalties in the game. In fact, Staub’s game-winner came with the Irish down a man, playing 3-on-4. “We had some trouble with penalties,” Richard head coach Tom O’Brien said. “We kept putting ourselves in a hole. But our penalty kill really stepped up and played outstanding.” Cabrini opened the scoring in the first period when Dominic Nichols put one past Richard’s Colin McMahon, however, Irish captain Mark Theisen tied the game up before the end of the frame, taking a pass from Mason Sarosi and scoring a power play goal. In the second period, the back and forth game continued, as Cabrini went up 2-1 on
PLEASE SEE IRISH/4-B
What a difference a year makes
After ﬁnishing last season 2-18, the Grphons are playing for a MIAC title
By Mike Larson
Thursday, February 24, 2011 • HERITAGE MEDIA/A2 JOURNAL
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minute and a half to play. This layup came in an exciting last 3 minutes that started with an old fashioned three-point play from Stark followed by Dils lone three of the fourth quarter. Wilson made another layup after his 360 to bring the game within a point but on the next possession Stark showed icy veins as he hit two free throws, the only player on the night to successfully make both attempts from the line. Skyline got two decent looks before and after a
time out with 3 seconds to play, but both brought nothing but iron and a hard-fought victory for Saline. In the JV game Saline beat Skyline by a score of 61-42. KC Borseth led the hornets with 15 points and two three pointers. Sedic Bazzy knocked down two three’s of his own and added 14 points for the Hornets. Max Recknagel also added 12 for Saline. Skyline was led by Marcus Wallace who scored14 points. Akeme Okonkwo added eight for the Eagles. Mike Larson can be reached by email at Mlarson@A2Journal.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/A2SportsGuy and www.Twitter.com/ A2JournalSports.
Last year wasn’t very much fun for the Greenhills boys’ basketball team. How could it have been? The team only won two games all season. “We went 2-18 last year,” Greenhills head coach Andrew Wright said. “It was a pretty big struggle.” This year hasn’t been nearly as much of a struggle, and it’s also been a lot more fun for the Gryphons. Greenhills is 12-6 so far this season, and standing pat with a 9-1 record in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference. “This season has definitely been a lot more fun for the team,” Wright said. “They have been working hard and learning a lot, but winning regularly does a lot to raise moral.
The coach said there were two big reasons his team has been able to rebound after last year’s two-win debacle: experience and moving to the new league.
“Last season we had a chacne to play a lot of our younger players. There were a ton of our guys who were getting a lot of playing time in varsity games last season, and now, you can really see the difference it made.
ANDREW WRIGHT Greenhills basketball coach
“Last season we had a chance to play a lot of our younger players,” Wright said. “There were a ton of our guys who were getting a lot of playing time in varsity games last sea-
son, and now, you can really see the difference it made. “Also, moving to the new league has helped. We are playing teams that are a little more on our level, and that has given our guys some confidence.” Most recently, the Gryphons took down Taylor Baptist Park, and they did it at home in front of a large student section. “The students are getting really excited,” the coach said. “They want to see a winning team. Their support has been outstanding.” At this time last season, the Gryphons were just trying to endure the rest of their schedule, but this year, the Greenhills team is looking to make some noise in the postseason. Mike Larson can be reached by email at Mlarson@A2Journal. com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/A2SportsGuy and www.Twitter.com/ A2JournalSports.
File Photo/A2 JOURNAL
Mike Larson/A2 JOURNAL
Greenhills’ coach Andrew Wright enjoys a moment of levity with his team during a recent win over Baptist Park. The Gryphons have gone from 2-18 last year, to title contender this year.
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Greenhills a 45-50 lead. After that, the Gryphons found their stroke from the free throw line. Greenhills hit 13 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to coast to a 65-52 win.
“We played a great game,” sophomore Andrew Khouri said. “We’ve been losing a lot of games lately, so we really wanted this one.” Khouri and Al Braun led the way for the Gryphons as both players scored 19 points. Jong also scored in double digits for Greenhills with 12 points. Thomas led the way for better team. And it isn’t that Huron has better athletes. If you want the honest truth, I think the players from Ypsilanti were, as a whole, more athletic than the River Rats. The Phoenix have speed, length and jumping ability. Yet the River Rats won by 20. Why is that? It’s because Huron has the experience, depth and discipline to win big games. Ypsilanti looked great in the first few minutes of the game, taking control and making good shots and equally good decisions. But as soon as the shots stopped falling, Ypsilanti couldn’t figure out how to get back on track. Between the final seconds of the first quarter to about the 4:40-mark of the second quarter, the Phoenix were outscored 12-1. Some of that stretch can be attributed to Huron’s defense, but overall, it’s a telling sign that while undefeated before taking on the River Rats, the Phoenix just might not be ready to compete for the big title. Ypsilanti is a team of athletic run-and-gun players who all have talent, but lack the cohe-
Baptist Park with 14 points while Noah Combs added 13 and Blake Speck added 10. Greenhills will be off for a week as the school goes on Winter Break. Mike Larson can be reached by email at Mlarson@A2Journal. com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/A2SportsGuy and www.Twitter.com/ A2JournalSports. sive discipline to weather those big scoring droughts and come back and win. Huron is a complete team that has at least three reserve players who could start on almost any other team in the Southeastern Conference. In my opinion, Huron is just better than Ypsilanti However, perhaps the team will prove me wrong. Perhaps Ypsilanti will be ready to make a run when the tournament starts. I, along with a lot of other basketball fans in the area, fully expect Huron to be in the mix for the state semifinals. Coincidentally, because of the way the district and regional tournaments were drawn up this season, in order for the two teams to play again, they will have to meet in the state semis. Think it could happen? Over 1,200 people watched River Rats blow out the Phoenix last week. I imagine the majority would say it probably won’t. Mike Larson can be reached by email at Mlarson@A2Journal. com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/A2SportsGuy and www.Twitter.com/ A2JournalSports.
Huron, Pioneer both pick up important SEC wins
By Mike Larson
Skyline coach Mike Lovelace watches the action from the sidelines during a recent game. On Friday the Eagles dropped a close one to Saline.
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state championship. But I just don’t think that is in the cards for Ypsi. After watching the team play against Huron, I just have a hard time believing that the Phoenix could hang with the River Rats if the two teams met again. Sure, Ypsilanti has had a great season so far with wins over Flint Northern and Detroit Catholic Central, but after the beating I saw the River Rats hand down to the Phoenix (on Ypsilanti’s home floor no less), I just don’t think the team could upset a team like Huron. I know this will draw ire from the Ypsilanti faithful, but I just don’t think the Phoenix can do it. It’s not because their team isn’t good or they are poorly coached. I don’t think it really has anything to do with Ypsilanti. On the contrary, I think it has to do with Huron being so good. Anyone who watched Tuesday night’s game against the two teams had to come away thinking that Huron was the
Three River Rats scored in double figures Friday as the Huron boys’ basketball team defeated Bedford and extended its winning streak to 13 games. Huron took it to the Kicking Mules, winning 85-65 at the Riverdome. The Rats jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter, outscoring Bedford 21-11. The Huron team only built on their lead throughout the rest of the game, coasting to an easy Southeastern Conference victory. A.J. Mathew led the way for Huron with 20 points, while Mike Lewis added 18 and Jesse Buchsbaum scored 10. Ryan Rightnowar scored 20 for Bedford, Jackson scored 19 and Jordan Palulski added 10. Pioneer 80 Monroe 38 Monroe was a long trip for the Ann Arbor Pioneer boys’ basketball team on Friday. However, the lengthy bus ride didn’t faze the Pioneers as they took on a Southeastern Conference foe. The Trojans posed no problem for the Ann Arbor team as Pioneer left town with a huge 80-38 win. The Pioneers jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back, beating up on the Trojans in a big way. Senior James Kelly scored 20 points to lead the way the Pioneers, while Ja’Korey Davis added 11.
File Photo/A2 JOURNAL
Huron’s Matt Hastings take a shot during a recent game. On Friday, the River Rats defeated Bedford. Anthony Hugan and Grant Grimard both scored nine points, Aaron Schoenfeldt and Jeremiah Strode added eight each, Jimmy Holman and Darien Hill each scored four, Garrett Hardenbrook added three points and Grant Schafer and Mike Kielczewski both added a field goal. Mike Larson can be reached by email at Mlarson@A2Journal. com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/A2SportsGuy and www.Twitter.com/ A2JournalSports.