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January 9, 2002Pontiac (Mich.) Northern is no longer at the top of the hype heap after an early-season loss to Pontiac Central. But while teams like Detroit Redford and Detroit Rogers, both undefeated against in-state competition, have begun to receive more ink, Northern has gotten back on the winning track after its one-point loss.
A few weeks' vacation followed the Central game, but on Friday the Huskies returned to the court against Rochester Adams. Michigan signee Lester Abram (right) was in top form for Northern; the 6-6 wing, who ran the point most of the night, finished just shy of a triple-double, tallying 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. The Huskies won 74-59 to improve to 4-1.
Northern had a tougher time on Tuesday at Southfield, which entered the game 8-0. The Huskies clung to a narrow 19-17 lead at the half, but in the second half Abram began to assert himself, and his teammates began to look for him more. "It's sort of like the way the Bulls went to Mike," Northern's Dominique Hardiman told the Detroit Free Press.
Abram scored 12 third-quarter points, and in the fourth period, when Southfield closed to within three points on three different occasions, he scored to extend the Huskies' advantage each time. He finished with 21 of his team's points in its 48-42 win, as Northern moved to 5-1.
While Northern is no longer the unquestioned favorite for the Class A state championship -- a luxury that rarely endures beyond the start of live competition -- Abram has seemingly only elevated his individual status in the past six weeks. A recent Prep Spotlight update on the Mr. Basketball race listed Abram as the No. 2 contender for the honor, behind only Paul Davis of Rochester, a Michigan State signee.
"Lester has been amazing so far early on this season and his skills seem to keep getting better," the article stated. "He led Pontiac Northern to a state title last season and could repeat this year. Lester is one of the top three players in the state and will make a serious run at the Mr. Basketball award if Pontiac Northern stays hot. He is pushing the leaders for the top spot."
Abram was rated ahead of another top contender, Florida signee Anthony Roberson of Saginaw, whom the article said "has struggled a bit early on" and "seems to have regressed as the team leader and point guard that I saw early in his career."
Michigan signee Graham Brown of Mio, a 6-9 power forward/center, was No. 7 on Prep Spotlight's list. "Somewhat lost in the upper half of Michigan but he is a force nonetheless," the article said of Brown. "He is the best player in that region and should get some votes. If he were in the Metro Detroit area he would be a household name."
According to one school of thought, Davis is likely to win Mr. Basketball on individual merit, whereas Abram could win on the strength of his contributions to his team's success, if Northern appears poised to repeat as state champion. Working to Abram's disadvantage, however, is the fact that the winner will be selected before the state finals.
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A championship performance at the Slam Dunk to the Beach elevated Cedar Hill (Texas) High School to No. 6 in School Sports' national Top 25, up from No. 24. The Longhorns, ranked No. 1 in Texas' Class 5A by the Dallas Morning News, returned home and were back on the hardwood on Thursday against DeSoto, ranked No. 4 by the Morning News.
After averaging 28 points per game and receiving MVP honors at the Slam Dunk, U-M signee Daniel Horton (at right, with former Wolverine Jimmy King) struggled a bit against DeSoto. He relinquished his customary role as Cedar Hill's leading scorer, finishing with 15 points on 4-of-15 field goal shooting. However, the Longhorns got 26 points from Cedric Brooks to win 85-66 and improve to 18-1.
"I was a little bit tired," Horton told the Morning News. "We're traveling and playing games. I didn't have all my legs. But I was trying to do some other things to get my teammates involved."
And he did, according to the Morning News, which reported, "He pushed the ball up the court on the fastbreak and made slick passes."
Horton did much more than that in Cedar Hill's 97-71 win over Arlington Bowie. He knocked down eight three-pointers en route to a game-high 35 points as the Longhorns went to 19-1 on the year.
Cedar Hill did not need much from Horton against Arlington Lamar. Up 39-21 at the half, the Longhorns outscored Lamar 40-15 in the second half to win, 79-36. Horton contributed 16 in the victory, Cedar Hill's 20th of the season.
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Detroit Redford had revenge on its mind on Friday when it met Detroit Mackenzie, which knocked Redford out of the state tournament last spring. After ending the first half down 27-17, though, Redford had to start thinking comeback.
Mackenzie held 6-4 junior guard Dion Harris to just six points in the first half, but Harris showed up in the second half. He scored 15 second-half points to finish with 21 as Redford came back to win, 49-44.
"At halftime Coach said real ballplayers surface when their team gets behind," Harris told the Detroit Free Press. "I think I surfaced in the second half. I wasn't being aggressive at first. I was passive. Coach said I was too timid."
With the win, Redford moved to 9-1 on the season and 5-0 in league play.
Other recent Michigan prep results:
After stumbling out of the gate 0-5, Flint Northwestern picked up its first win of the year against Bay City Western, 65-61. Junior wing Olu Famutimi gave the Wildcats 18 points in the win.
Junior point guard Brandon Cotton had back-to-back 30-plus-point games for Detroit DePorres in wins against Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Redford Bishop Borgess. Cotton had 32 points and seven assists in DePorres' 80-55 defeat of OLSM, then followed that up with 39 (or, according to the Detroit News, 38) in a 78-55 victory over Bishop Borgess. DePorres is 8-0 this year.
Also remaining undefeated is Detroit Southeastern, which improved to 8-0 with wins against Detroit Osborn (80-67) and Detroit Finney (55-52). Junior guard Brandon Jenkins had a triple-double (23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) against Osborn, and nearly duplicated the feat against Finney, when he finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Junior center Walter Waters also approached triple-double territory against Osborn with 15 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks. He had 17 points and 11 board against Finney.