Kalamazoo’s Finest

The MML U15 squad had its most productive weekend of the spring so far this past weekend at the Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com tournament.  Finishing with a 2-3 record, some may question if that is the case, but anyone who has seen the team over the past month can attest to that fact.  The weekend started with a Saturday morning shellacking of the Elite Skills squad and a 65-45 win.  Trevor Bland led the way with 18 points with Matt Buschman and Thomas Cook tossing in 10 themselves.  It was truly a balanced game with everyone contributing to the cause.  It was also a sign of the team’s growth and things to come.

Facing the host Camp Darryl team in the second game proved to be very interesting.  Following a series of questionable calls and suspect bench play, we found ourselves in foul trouble and behind on the scoreboard.  Then we decided to start playing the way we know how to and PG Ricky Holmes III led the charge.  The game went back and forth until the end when we had a couple costly turnovers in a 3 point loss 58-61.  Holmes III had 13, Cook 11, Bland 10, and Tyler Rose 9.

The next game was against the co-host team, Parallel 45, and unfortunately the same two officials from game 2.  I will never blame officials for a loss, but when one comes up to you after the game and apologizes for the other’s officiating, something must be said.  It hurt the heart of the team to see the game being stripped by one guy.  Of course we did not play flawlessly, but the official who approached me said, “I saw what he was doing and I tried to make up for it.”  The second half fouls were 9-1 in their favor to start the half.  Several of our best players were saddled with foul trouble.  That said, we still battled to the bitter end in which a controversial foul call at best sent the opposition to the FT line with 3 seconds left.  He hit the 2nd of two free throws and a long heave by Cook glanced off the rim at the buzzer for a 55-56 loss.  Holmes led with 24, Bland 11, and Paris Partee 7.

That loss put us into bracket play as the 3rd place team in the pool and a tougher road ahead.  We played the Macomb County Cougars (ironically, so did the u17 in their first bracket game).  Last year, we also faced this team in the same position en route to the silver championship as a u17 squad.  The 4th game in a long day left the guys without much inn the tank.  Well, that is until Bland decided to take control.  Playing like a man possessed, he took control of a game in the balance and pushed MML to victory with a huge 21-point performance.  Cook threw in 12, Holmes 10, and Partee 7 to earn the team’s first bracket win of the spring and a birth in the quarterfinals.

Unfortunately, this description will be short.  The quarterfinal game matched us against a team in the Michigan Mustangs that has not loss all season.  We still had no excuse to play as bad of a first half as we did.  Letting fear override our good sense, we struggled to make a shot or stop one.  We showed some chops in the beginning of the second half but it was far too late and we suffered our worst loss 29-69.  Holmes had 11 and Partee 10 in the loss.

All in all, it was a weekend of growth for us and a sign that we are growing.  For the players, there is no going back now.  The bar as been set.  On to Mount Pleasant we go…

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