December 27, 2009

Stars shine during Holiday Hoops Invitational

This year's Holiday Hoops Invitational at Michigan State's Breslin Center featured some of the top talent in the Lansing Area as well as a couple star studded teams from around the state. There were a handful of future college players on display and some very exciting finishes. Hartland's Matt Poches was the featured CMU prospect and was named to the all tournament team.

DeWitt vs St. Johns

In the first game of the day an experienced Dewitt squad came out sluggish against a St. Johns team that has won only six games the past two years. To St. Johns credit they came out and played tough basketball holding Dewitt's trio of stars to a lackluster first half and went on to have a 25-19 lead at the half. Dewitt responded like one of the better teams in Lansing with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter to take the lead and never relinquished it again on their way to a 61-52 victory. Andrew Lerg led the way for Dewitt with 15 points 8 rebounds and 4 assists to earn game MVP honors with St. Johns's Dan Horvath who had 19 points. Dewitt also had solid contributions from junior Jordan Johnson with 10 points and future Northwestern offensive lineman Paul Jorgensen with 13 points.

Flint Powers vs Owosso

Flint Powers came into this game as the #3 team in class B and features two all state candidates in Patrick Lucas-Perry (2011) and Patrick O'Brien (2010). The defending state champion Powers came out very quick to take an early lead and they held onto from start to finish. Owosso was over-matched from the start and this proved to be a tough game for them coming off a 7-15 campaign last season. Owosso cut the lead to as low as 7 in the second quarter, but Powers stars and depth were too much to handle as they went on to win 66-42. Demarco Sanders was named MVP for Powers with 15 points 5 rebounds and 4 assists and is a player who I believe could receive some late Division 1 interest with his improved play. Lucas Perry added 11 points and showed great vision and passing ability while O'Brien had 14 points.

Brighton vs Eaton Rapids

In what was one of the more anticipated matchups of the day with the Michigan State faithful coming to see 2010 commit Alex Gauna of Eaton Rapids, Brighton was the one who stole the show and dominated the entire game. While Gauna didn't disappoint with 21 points 7 rebounds and 3 assists, the Brighton defense was ferocious, forcing a slew of turnovers and consistently double and triple teaming Gauna every time he touched the ball. Eaton Rapids showed very little offensive ability with the exception of Gauna and credit must be given to Brighton's defense as their game plan was very effective in the 56-31 victory. Brighton was led by 6-foot-6 senior Bryan Bullin, who has been one of the states more consistent forwards and plays his summer basketball with The Family. Bullin contained Gauna very well and made him work for all his shots. Bullin, a four year varsity player is joined by Jack Armstrong, another 4four year varsity player who was named MVP with 15 points 3 assists and 5 steals. With the combo of Bullin and Armstrong, don't be surprised to see this Brighton team make a run in the playoffs come March.

Hartland vs Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central

In the most evenly matched game of the evening, Hartland, led by Central Michigan target Matt Poches, upended GR Forest Hills Central 52-50 with a fourth quarter comeback sparked by key shooting and the play making ability of Poches. Both teams lost a lot of seniors from last years teams and now feature very young rosters, but both teams showed potential and will be tough opponents the rest of the season. Hartland improved to 4-0 behind Poches's 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, good enough for co-MVP honors along with Darrin Nesby of FH Central who had 11 points. Both teams play a lot of players and show good depth, but this was a turnover ridden game. Matt Poches was impressive and showed that great ability to get into the lane and create for himself and teammates. He was aggressive and had many nice passes and could have ended up with 10 assists if the baskets were finished. Poches is averaging right around 20 points a game and as the season progresses with this young roster I expect Hartland to keep getting better and the Brighton-Hartland game later this year should prove to be a dandy.

Holt vs Grand Ledge

The most entertaining game of the day belongs to Holt and Grand Ledge behind two of the Lansing areas best in GL's 6-foot-9 forwrad Jon Horford and 6-foot-7 Wright State commit Cole Darling of Holt. They did not disappoint in a very fast paced first quarter in which both scored 8 points showing a variety of moves and proving why they are so highly regarded. Holt came out on fire taking a 24-14 lead after the first but Grand Ledge came back in the second quarter behind a Horford dunk that cut the lead to 5. Holt ended up taking a 33-25 lead into the half. Grand Ledge got the lead down to as low as 2 in the second half, but Holt showed why they are one of the states deeper and better teams and held on for a 58-54 victory in front of a big crowd. Horford ended his day with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks, earning MVP honors along side Cole Darling who had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Horford holds offers from Florida and Michigan among others and established himself early in the game, showing great leadership and passing ability for a big man. Horford is going to make a strong case this season to surpass Alex Gauna of Eaton Rapids as the states top senior big man if he hasn't already.

**The last game of the invitational was between Pewamo-Westphalia and Fowler in which I was unable to attend**

All Tournament Team

Andrew Lerg- 6-foot senior DeWitt
Dan Horvath - 6-foot-3 senior St. Johns
Demarco Sanders- 6-foot-2 senior Flint Powers
Andrew Nieman- 6-foot-2 junior Owosso
Alex Gauna- 6-foot-9 senior Eaton Rapids
Jack Armstrong- 5-foot-10 senior Brighton
Matt Poches- 6-foot-4 junior Hartland
Darrin Nesby- 5-foot-11 senior GR Forest Hills Central
Jon Horford- 6-foot-9 senior Grand Ledge
Cole Darling- 6-foot-7 senior Holt

Tournament MVP- Jon Horford Grand Ledge---Hands down the best player in the gym and has the making of a big time Division 1 player. Did everything for Grand Ledge and did it against arguably the second best big man in the area in Cole Darling.

Play of the day

6-foot-3 junior Cory McKinney of Brighton was streaking down the floor on a fast break and rose up for a two handed flush over MSU commit Alex Gauna, something the Breslin center faithful hope they never see again.

Best Team

This is a tough one as both Holt and Flint Power are deserving, but I have to go with Flint Powers. Their style of play is very fast and they wear teams out behind Lucas Perry and O'Brien. Demarco Sanders is the x-factor if Powers is to have another great season. Powers is a favorite to get back to the Breslin in March and make a bid for a second straight state title in Class B.

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