It is a shame that the spring didn’t have more weeks. I believe all of the MML teams got better in each one in some way. This past weekend was no different in Mount Pleasant. But before I get into that, I want to take the time to thank our parents and volunteer coaches for all of the work they have done. We have no idea what impact we can have on young people, but it is tremendous. I had one young man thank me for having one of the biggest impacts in his life. That nearly brought me to tears, but it again put into perspective that this is not a “win at all cost” organization. This is a “cultivate young men into good people and good players” organization. The winning will come behind doing just that. Parents, without your support, this thing just never happens, so I thank you again. Coaches, you each volunteered to give up your time to help me and these young men. Thank you again for that.
This U15 squad has definitely put together something to build on for the future. Despite having 4 8th graders on the 9th grade team, they competed down to the very end. For the first time this year, they played the most games in a weekend with 5 after securing a bracket win Saturday night. They did so without their leading scorer and lead guard Noah Baylis, who had a prior family commitment (MML preaches family first). The u15 squad fell in the round of 16. Azonte’ “Ruffi” Burks is an up-and-coming star in his own right and the anchor of the team. He put in his normal yeoman’s work in Mt. Pleasant, holding the team down in Baylis’ absence. We have also seen big strides from Trevor Shaheen over the past two weekends at the guard spot. The fiery Austin Pellett has perhaps the highest basketball IQ on the court most of the time. I could go through the whole team and list how they have grown, but the best thing about it was to actually see first hand competition on this level and play against it all spring. They should all be chomping at the bit to get to HS summer ball.
The U16 team continues to be the feistiest of them all. Despite being small, they battle with every team they face and play until the very end. This weekend ended in the silver division quarterfinals at the hands of the eventual silver champions. Despite that, the biggest visible growth was taking a Hoopgrind squad down to the wire after just weeks ago being mercied by that same team. That is what it’s all about, growth.The deep shooting touch of Kennedy Martin shines through each week and when he gets hot, look out! Demetrius Miller has to be the most athletic 5’4″ guy you ever want to meet and has the heart of a lion. Marlando Wade, Andrew Spak, and newcomer Dominique Butler brought a willingness to do whatever with them each time they stepped on the court. James Richardson Jr. and Isaiah Franklin both have shown flashes when not deferring too often. After a long spring, I believe they are finally starting to understand their capabilities moving into the summer.
I will start by saying that things did not end as planned for the older boys this past weekend. However, I saw some things that were really encouraging and showed just how far they have grown. Playing without starting forward Trevor Bland (prior family commitment), the team got off to a rough start in game 1. It got rougher when our leading scorer Austin Harless had a full speed collision with the bleachers after hustling on defense just before halftime. That collision left him largely out of play the rest of the game, but the team fought hard before falling eventually 60-63 to Championship Sports-Gold. Thomas Cook led with 17 points, Devon Williams and Paris Partee 9, Harless 7, Tyler Rose and Eagan Bayer 5 in the loss. The team bounced back in a very hot gym versus WML-Purple in a 65-58 W despite being down at halftime. Harless played through two bruised shins, a bruised sternum, and a sore arm to continue his hot shooting of late with 20 points (3 from downtown). He will surprise people with his sneaky athleticism and a touch from the outside that is very accurate. Ricky Holmes III had a good floor game and added 10 points. Partee had 9, Cook 7, while Rose and Jose Castro chipped in 6 a piece. The third game immediately followed at a gym twenty minutes away and that proved to be too much for our rock inside Partee, whose legs cramped up just before the tip and would not loosen throughout the game. Once again, the team had a chance to show great resilience and growth. They did just that with an impressive 84-56 win over The Ville. Once again Harless led the scoring with 19 and three deep treys. Cook went off in the 2nd half, scoring all 18 of his points then and showing a new found aggressiveness going to the rim that will only help his game moving forward. Castro knocked down 3 shots deep en route to his 11 points. Rose was literally all over the court on defense playing like a defense back picking off pass after pass. He had 10 points, but the most impressive was the 6 steals he had to go with it! Holmes III added 8 points, Nick Fenner 6, while Williams and Bayer added 5 each. And I want to thank the parents once again, especially the Bayer family for putting together a wonderful barbecue following that game! However, the next morning was where a letdown occurred. Partee, still dealing with after effects of the cramps was unable to move in his normal way, but he gutted out the game for us anyway. We lost at the hands of a very sound Northern Michigan Drive Team 35-56. Harless continued his theme of knocking down three long range bombs and scoring 19 points. Rose and Partee added 5 in defeat. This marked the end to a spring where we finished it 8-4 in our last 12 games, rounding into the form we need to be in. This is going to be a big summer fr the group as they find expectations increasing for them.