Wow…another spring/summer in the books for MML! We closed things out in Fort Wayne, IN at the Gym Rats National Championships. This gave us an opportunity to see coaches and teams we had not seen all season to that point. The u17 club finished with a strong pool performance, earning the first place position and birth in the platinum division bracket play. Game recaps are below:
Game 1 67-77 loss to SMAC- We just could not overcome a slow start which was in part due to not having a full compliment of players on hand at the beginning of the game. That said, we fought back from 18 down to get the game within 4 points before a series of what can only be described as “strange” calls from an official that appeared impaired basically created a margin we could not recover from. Thomas Cook led the way with 20 points, including 4 three point bombs. Austin Harless continued his strong play from Grand Rapids, dropping in 16. Despite not playing until the second half, Paris Partee scored 8 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Ricky Holmes III and Tyler Rose both added 7 points as well.
Game 2 55-42 win over Club1 Select- We only had a few hours to bounce back from the SMAC loss and that is exactly what we did. The final score is not indicative of the game as we gave up points at the end of the game. The starting unit jumped out with a fire they had not displayed as a group perhaps all spring/summer. They locked in to the team on the defensive end and just would not let go. We had our own share of offensive difficulty, but our defensive stole the show. Everyone showed great hustle and team play in the win. Harless led with 14, Cook 10, and Partee 8 in the win.
Game 3 71-68 OT win over Tri City Heat- Friday’s game was definitely our most exciting game of the season and would determine seeding for the bracket play to come. The bigger Heatr team gave us some trouble initially on the boards and their point guard Chaz Woods was knocking down shots from deep. The MML boys dug their heels in and begin to recapture momentum as the game wore on. Despite foul trouble with Partee, we held our own on the backboards and a back-and-forth contest ensued. It was that way all the way down to the wire until with 7 seconds left, Harless hit what looked like the game-tying 3 pt bomb. However, some stupid coach (oh that was me) called timeout just before the shot was released. Despite the disappointment and a little trash talk from the opponent, the play was drawn up in the huddle for Harless again and he delivered with the actual game-tying basket with 2 seconds remaining from well beyond the arc! As OT began, we carried that momentum into it. Then with about 1 minute left, Harless again came up big with an off balance jump shot from the corner that put us ahead for good. A late steal by Rose denied the Heat a chance to even release a game tying attempt! Harless finished the game with 5 three-pointers en route to 29 points. Partee scored 10 with 12 rebounds as well. Holmes III sealed the game with clutch free throws down the stretch among his 8 points. Trevor Bland also stepped up with 8 and clutch big man play.
Game 4 53-68 loss to The Hidden Gems (platinum bracket)- A sluggish Saturday morning saw us unable to put the ball in the basket virtually all game, leading to some attempts to rectify it going awry and compounding the issues by trying to do too much. We went from perhaps our best game to our worst in a while. We pressed and fought, but it simply was not enough. Harless led with 13, Partee added 10, Cook 9, Holmes III 8, and Rose 7 in defeat. We were able to have a great heart-to-heart talk afterward that I know will stick with them as they move forward in their lives and careers.
Special thanks to the college coaches that followed our games and progress and those that reached out to coaches and players. Again, special thanks to the MML parents who traveled and spent their hard earned money in an effort to support these young men. Thank you to the MML coaches that volunteered their time and spent their money all season as well. Thank you to Coach Steve Schmidt (Mott CC) and Coach Lance Baylis (Holly HS) for the use of their respective facilities for practice and workouts. I truly hope the players take the time to thank the appropriate people as well.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the players that played on the u15, u16, and u17 teams that put in the effort to improve all season. The growth that you’ve shown will be reflected in your upcoming HS seasons. Of course that is ONLY if you continue the process of working on your craft from now until then! I love you guys and hope that we continue to be a part of each other’s lives. I will always be available to reach if you need me so don’t hesitate at all. We look for bigger and better things to come next year!
Special to my u17 boys that presented me with an autographed ball at the end of the tournament. That really touched me and hit home. It was fun to grow with you guys!