Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Cheer

A handful of area hoop teams took time to celebrate the New Year a day or so early by ending 2009 with exhilarating wins, while bringing home a few championship trophies to boot.
Birmingham Brother Rice notched its second win of the season as well as the championship of "The Venture Holiday Classic" (being hosted by Madison Heights Bishop Foley) on Wednesday by topping Melvindale 46-41. Warriors junior forward Joey Alessi scored a game-high 20 points, including a game-clinching steal and score in the closing seconds of the contest to as Dave Chappell might say, "Wrap it up, B". With Brother Rice in front by the score of 44-41 and Melvindale looking to get a game-tying 3-point attempt off, Alessi picked off a pass and went in for an uncontested lay-up that just beat the buzzer and sent the Warriors' bench into hysterics. Starting guard Adam Gorski, who has been out of the Rice line-up as of late due to a concussion, returned to action and played well, contributing nine points and five assists. Warriors head coach, Ed Shaffer has a real diaper dandy on his roster in sturdy sophomore power forward/center Dylan Anderson. This kid is a bull in the post and a real gamer. Getting his first major playing time of the season against Berkley in the tourney semi-final on Monday, Anderson was magnificent. The 6-6 brick-wall of a 15 year old scored 16 points and hauled down eight boards in the Rice 83-80 "W" over the Bears. He shot a sterling 80 percent from the field and made a serious statement to Shaffer that he is deserving of significant more court time.
Clawson's Joe Baker played the part of Willis Reed and pretty much single handedly won his school's own holiday tournament, "The Trojan Holiday Classic", and kept his squad undefeated heading into the New Year with his performances in Monday's semi-final and Wednesday's final. In Monday's defeat of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook, Baker, a prolific-scorer with equally ace-worthy shooting skills from beyond the arc and at the charity stripe, dropped 35 points to advance Clawson into the tourney championship game against Royal Oak Shrine. Playing against Shrine on Wednesday night, Baker scored 19 points and hit two pairs of crucial free throws in the game's final seconds to get the job done for the Trojans in their 52-49 win over the Knights. Oh, and Baker, who nailed 13-of-13 from the free throw line, missed a majority of the second half after getting hit in the mouth and losing two teeth. Like any superior athlete would, Baker dug down deep and returned to the game with about four minutes left to push Clawson past the finish-line, displaying a relentless sense of urgency and desire down the stretch in the Trojans victory that only the true greats can muster up when facing that type of adversity. Needless to say, "Joe the Show" was named MVP of the tournament. With Baker leading the ship, it's no wonder Clawson is sitting pretty at 6-0.
Just like crosstown at Clawson, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep captured its own holiday tournament, "The Irish Hoops Classic," on Wednesday night by trouncing visiting Bloomfield Hills Andover, 58-37. Starting center, Ross Lindeman, scored a game-high 22 points and collected 10 rebounds. The Fighting Irish started the championship game on fire, jumping out to a 12-0 lead. From that point forward, it was smooth sailing towards the tourney title. Joey De Martis, who tallied 17 points in the contest, banged down a triple at the halftime buzzer to send NDP into the lockeroom ahead on the scoreboard by a comfortable 14 points. Point guard, Danny Dulapa, scored 16 points, while draining 3-of-6 attempts from 3-point distance and held Barons' offensive-machine, Matanya Kidron (averaging close to 25 ppg), to a mere four points. NDP goes into 2010 sporting a 3-2 record.    

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bonus Bytes - The Nickname Express

Southfield-Lathrup hoop king Roy Marble, Jr. is much improved from last season. The 6-6 Iowa-bound senior is averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds per game and showing a much more aggressive, attacking nature in his on-the-court demeanor. This increase in versatility will serve him well playing in the rough and rugged Big Ten Conference throughout the next few years. Marble, Jr. is a hardwood assassin with killer offensive-instincts that I compare to a local prep version of Reggie Miller or Ray Allen. In fact, I'm going to nickname him "Jesus Shuttlesworth", after Allen's cinematic alter-ego in the 1998 Spike Lee classic, "He Got Game." Living up to the comparison, Marble, Jr. scored 33 points – including four 3-pointers and four slam dunks points – and grabbed eight rebounds in the Chargers' defeat of Detroit Denby last Saturday night.
Drew Gilchrest, Marble, Jr.'s teammate, also played a big role in Lathrup's win over Denby and deserves his own nickname. A three year-varsity performer, Gilchrest has been rock-solid in the Chargers' backcourt – a jack of all trades on the hardwood if you will. Often overshadowed by his all-state running buddy, "Shuttlesworth", Gilchrest flies under the radar, but there is no doubt that his contribution to the Lathrup line-up is an integral cog in the Chargers' attack.  His play down the stretch against Denby was the definition of money in the bank. Therefore, I have decided to nickname him, "G-Money". Gilchrest pumped in three straight hoops over a 90 second span in the final three and a half minutes of the game to propel Lathrup to it's second "W" of the year.
While we're on the subject of nicknames, "The Natural" a.k.a. North Farmington's Kyle Vinales, lived up to the moniker I tagged on him last week in his final outing prior to the New Year when he broke out huge again and dropped his second consecutive 40-point performance on a very good Detroit Henry Ford defense. Keep getting busy for Burney, KV and bust up a few dozen nets or so while in the process. Junior DCD transfer and D1 power forward-recruit, Urban Bingham's arrival into the line-up in January is certain to open things more up for Vinales (Grand Valley State) on the outside. Now, that's a scary thought!
It appears that former Birmingham Detroit Country Day star, Jordan Dumars, is on the move back to playing hoops again in his home state. A two year starter for the Yellowjackets and a member of the 2007 Class B state championship team, Dumars, a 6-6 wing with outstanding shooting-range, graduated from Country Day last spring and accepted a scholarship to play his collegiate ball at the University of South Florida. Now, it appears his future at the next level will be at an in-state school, either, Michigan, Michigan St., or the University of Detroit-Mercy. Apparently, Dumars was displeased with his experience down south and has left the USF program, returning to his family's Franklin Township residence to stay over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Heeding counsel from his father, NBA Hall of Famer and Detroit Pistons GM, Joe Dumars, Jordan is apparently "leaning towards" ending up in Ann Arbor and playing for UofM head coach John Belein and the 3-point happy-Wolverines offense. Since scholarship availability is scarce in the UofM program at this moment, rumors are that he would be brought into the fold, at least initially, as a preferred walk-on. Dumars is a great kid, but he is a very one-dimensional player - he's an excellent stand-still perimeter shooter, yet currently lacks multiple facets to his overall game. That said, Belein's program looks like it would be a great fit – Especially, when Southfield's Carlton Brundidge (a master "drive-and-kick" specialist) arrives on campus in 2011.    
Former DCD star, Alex Legion is transferring for the one-zilliionth time. This time, Legion is leaving Illinois for a destination still yet to be determined. Legion, an all-state swingman for the Yellow Jackets in his junior season, left the program his senior season to play for national prep powerhouse, Oak Hill Academy. Originally signing with Michigan, he decided to go to Kentucky instead. Unhappy with his time in Lexington, he transferred to Illinois. No doubt, Legion is a talent. However his reputation as "tough to coach" has hounded him for years and it's not really surprising he's going on his third college hoops program in the past four years.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Undaunted Desire

Special to The Oakland Press
Birmingham Detroit Country Day doesn't discriminate – the Yellowjackets take on all comers, near and far. After posting four straight victories to start the season against in-state opponents, the Country Day boys basketball squad has used this past week to expand their on-court resume to now include back-to-back wins over a pair of highly-vaunted out-of-state teams.
Last Tuesday, Country Day went down to Indiana and crushed number two-ranked in the state, Ft. Wayne Bishop Lauers, 93-77, in the Midwest Basketball Challenge held in Indianapolis. On Monday night in their own home gym, the Yellowjackets continued their trend of slaying out-of-state giants and took down a scrappy and talented Madison Memorial team – a defending state champion and the number 3 ranked team in Wisconsin – by the score of 61-48 in front of a packed house in the third day-finale of the 15th annual Motor City Roundball Classic.
The Yellowjackets are now 6-0 overall and will look to make it three in a row against out-of-state foes on Wednesday when they host Gary Wallace High School out of the Northwest Indiana area. Memorial goes to 4-2 on the year with the defeat.
Country Day's effort was highlighted by senior floor general, Ray McCallum, Jr., who scored a game-high 19 points, while registering seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. One of the best point guards in the country coming off an All-State junior season, McCallum has narrowed his college choices down to four schools: Arizona, UCLA, Florida, and the University of Detroit-Mercy, where his father, Ray, Sr., is the head coach.
"We're going to bring it every night no matter who we're playing," said McCallum outside the locker room after the game. "Games like this prove what kind of team we are and what kind of player I am. I don't fear anybody. This team doesn't fear anybody either. I want to make a statement every time I lead this team onto the court. That's what we've been doing and that's what we're going to keep doing."
Juniors Amir Williams and Lee Bailey were active and aggressive on both ends of the court throughout the entire contest and proved equally lethal to the Memorial defense as their heavily-sought after teammate did. Patrolling the paint with an intimidating flair, the 6-10 Williams, a premiere big man in the recruiting Class of 2011, scored 15 points, corralled 12 rebounds, and blocked four shots. Bailey, a two-sport stud who also excels on the football field, chipped in with 14 points, five assists, three steals and a lockdown defensive performance against the Spartans' All-State combo-guard, Vander Blue, who he helped hold to 14 points.
Memorial has been to back-to-back Wisconsin state championship games and last season led by current Marquette Golden Eagle Jevonne Maymon, won it all. Blue is slated to join Maymon in Milwaukee next year, as he signed a letter of intent with head coach's Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles program in November. The Spartans entered this season ranked number one in the state, but fell two spots in the polls following a loss at the buzzer in their home state last week
From start to finish, Country Day was the better team. Leading 17-11 after the first quarter, the Yellowjackets made it a 31-23 ballgame at the break courtesy of McCallum's pull-up 25-foot 3-pointer that just beat the second quarter buzzer. A McCallum tip-slam on the fast break pumped the Country Day lead up to 14 points early in the third quarter and his acrobatic three point-play just a few minutes later provided the Yellowjackets a comfortable 48-34 lead. Junior reserve power forward, Carter Elliott's offensive rebound and put back in the closing seconds of the third quarter placed the score at 50-34 going into the fourth.
Refusing to go its demise quietly, Memorial kept playing hard and eventually cut its deficit all the way down to seven points in the final 90 seconds of the game. Five straight points by Spartans' senior guard Tre Cramer made it 52-45 with 1:29 remaining. But Country Day wouldn't be denied and outscored Memorial 9-3 the rest of the way, causing several turnovers that McCallum and company were able to turn into transition buckets. Two free throws by Bailey at the 1:14 mark of the fourth that pushed the Yellowjackets advantage back to double-digits at 55-45 were followed up by two spectacular plays by McCallum to close things out.
First, he stole a Spartan pass at mid-court and fed a streaking Williams for an authoritative slam dunk on the other end. Finally, as the closing seconds of the game ticked away, he made another steal and soared in for a rim-rattling, two-handed slam himself that brought the capacity crowd to its feet.
"If we're playing at our best, it is really pick your poison with this team," said Country Day head coach, Kurt Keener, in the locker room following his team's win. "Ray is so athletic and smart, you just can't contain him for an entire game. And the rest of the backcourt in Chris (Fowler) and Lee (Bailey) are playing at a level right now where I have complete confidence in them. On the other hand, Amir is so good down low, he'll really hurt a team if they focus too much on our perimeter play. Teams are forced to shift their offense and defense to adjust to his presence. These are big games we've been playing early on and I like how we've responded so far."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Soaring Phoenix

Special to The Oakland Press
Pontiac's backcourt of juniors Anthony Adams and Juwaan Moody lived up to their respective nicknames on Saturday night in the 15th annual Motor City Roundball Classic played at Birmingham Detroit Country Day. Adams, nicknamed "The Ant", was a constant annoyance to the opposition all game long with his pesky defense and timely-scoring and teamed with Moody, who holds the moniker, "The Surgeon", to provide doctor-like precision on the floor and spark the Phoenix to a 59-57 defeat of a tough-as-nails Goodrich squad.
Moody, a slippery-fast and offensively-gifted transfer from Orchard Lake St. Mary's, started things off by scoring 17 of his game-high 23 points in the first half and giving Pontiac a 28-25 lead at the intermission. Taking the proverbial baton in the second half, Adams, a feisty and headstrong point guard, finished things out by scoring the last seven points of the game for the Phoenix, including the go-head hoop that broke a 52-52 deadlock with just under two minutes to play. His steal and score at the 1:52 mark of the fourth quarter put Pontiac up for good. Along with his eight assists and five steals, Adams knocked down 3-of-4 free throw attempts in the game's final 45 seconds to clinch the win for his team.
The Phoenix push their record to 2-1 overall. Goodrich was led in the scoring column by senior Mitch Vallie's 20 points and falls to 4-2. Not the least bit intimidated by the athletically-superior Phoenix, the Martians were scrappy and tenacious throughout the contest and determined to keep pace with their much speedier opponents. Sporting blue and gold colored uniforms, if one didn't know any better, it would have been easy to mistake the dead-eye shooting Goodrich squad with perennial Oakland County superpower, Clarkston – that's how well-disciplined and fundamentally-sound they played.
"That was a heck of a team we just faced," said an obviously exhausted Pontiac associate head coach, Mykel Covington following the hard-fought Phoenix win. "They executed and played great defense. I was very impressed to say the least.
Covington liked what he saw from his team when the outcome held in the balance. "The last four minutes or so, we played real tough. They kept clawing, but we scraped it out. We hit our free throws and brought some intense pressure on the defensive end that caused some important turnovers. It's a good win."
For a while it even looked as if Goodrich was going to run away with the upset. The Martians held a five point advantage with 4:39 left to play and looked to be holding the game's momentum. However, the frenetic and aggressive Pontiac guard pool was up to the test and took over when the game was on the line.  Besides getting commanding contributions from Adams and Moody, the Phoenix's De Brian Lewis and Jabari Martin each came up big late. Both Lewis and Martin caused turnovers and converted fast break points in the game's final four minutes.
A 25-foot 3-pointer from the far left wing by Goodrich's Drew Patrick at the buzzer took what would have been a 5-point loss and made it a 2-point loss instead.
"We knew they could play and they came hard tonight," said Martians' 19th year head coach, Gary Barns in the locker room after the game. "This was a great opportunity for this team to go up against a real top-quality opponent, a program with an elite tradition. I was proud of the effort. This game will be a building block for us."

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Special to The Oakland Press
With his dad and namesake on hand watching in the stands, Southfield-Lathrup's Roy Marble, Jr. put on a show Saturday night that would make any father proud. Torching the twine for 33 points on a variety of moves from his loaded-offensive arsenal, Marble Jr, led the Chargers to a thoroughly well-played 75-65 defeat of Detroit Denby in the 15th annual Motor City Roundball Classic being held over the next four days at Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
Southfield-Lathrup had a rough start to the season and lost its first three games, but after Saturday's hard-fought win have now won two straight and sit at 2-3 overall.  Last year, the Chargers went 12-12, but came on strong at the end of the season and capped the campaign by capturing a Class A district championship.
Marble, Jr. is the son of Big Ten hoops legend and former NBA first round draft pick, Roy Marble, Sr. and will follow in his father's footsteps next season as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Marble, Sr. is the Hawkeyes all-time leading scorer and was a member of several highly-ranked Iowa teams in the late-1980's. Through five games, Marble, Jr. is averaging 28.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. 
"Things are coming a little easier for me this year," he said among friends and teammates after accepting the MVP award for the game. "It's my senior season and I'm finding a comfort level in my play that suits me well on the floor. Everybody came up big tonight. We needed this win bad. I got it done when it counted and so did Bryan and Drew and that's what we're supposed to do 'cause we're the senior leaders. I hit the zone tonight and took advantage when I had the ball in my hands. My teammates were looking for me to deliver and I didn't want to let them down. I'm just glad to come away with the win."
The veteran-laden Chargers got steadfast performances by seniors Drew Gilchrest and Bryan Coleman and freshman Jonathon "John John" Williams to sufficiently augment Marble, Jr.'s high-octane effort. Gilchrest scored 12 points, including six straight late in the fourth quarter when the game was still in the balance that significantly aided in pushing the Chargers over the finish line. Coleman chipped in with nine points and 12 rebounds and Williams, one of the best ninth graders in the whole state, did a quality job of running the team's offense, scoring seven points, delivering five assists and collecting three steals.
Playing great defense and consistently converting on the transition, Southfield-Lathrup was smoking hot early. Consecutive crafty scores in traffic by Williams and a steal and slam dunk by Marble, Jr. put the Chargers in front 8-1 and caused Denby head coach, Charles Albright to call a time- out. Coming out of the huddle, Marble Jr. wasted little time getting back to work and immediately drained a triple from the deep left wing to start things back off. Another 3-pointer by Marble, Jr. in the final seconds of the first quarter made it 18-6 heading into the second.
Coleman's running-hook shot in the lane gave Southfield-Lathrup a 33-20 lead at halftime. The third quarter was all Chargers.  After Marble, Jr's dead-eye perimeter play loosened up the Denby defense in the first half, the 6-6 small forward attacked the basket with ferocity in the second half. His thunderous baseline jam kicked off the Chargers' scoring barrage in the third quarter and his leaning foul line-jumper made it a 37-22 ballgame in Southfield-Lathrup's favor. The Chargers outscored the Tars 16-5 in the pivotal quarter and received spirited play by reserves Anthony Nelson and Delvon Borgan. Both Nelson and Borgan contributed energetic defense and key fast break buckets in the team's early-second half run.   
Leading 49-25 after three, the Chargers were ahead 51-28 at the 6:57 mark of the fourth quarter and spectators began to file out of the gym, assuming the contest was over. Albright's Tars had different ideas. Denby kept plugging away and eventually made it a game once again when Cedric Little's two free throws got the Tars' deficit into single digits at the score of 62-52 with 4:08 left to play. Derek Barden's put-back got Denby to within five points, 64-59.
Emerging from a time-out where Southfield-Lathrup head coach Mike Avery pleaded for senior leadership to close out the game, Gilchrest, a third year-varsity letterman, heeded his coach's call and reeled off three straight field goals to give the Chargers' back some breathing room. But the Tars wouldn't go away just yet and Deontae Bonner's 3-pointer from well behind the 3-point line at the 1:55 mark of the fourth took the Southfield-Lathrup lead back down to five points at 68-63.
As his father sat sporting a wide smile at his son's more than stellar outing, Marble, Jr. sewed up the victory by drilling a pair of free throws and ending the game on a highlight reel-worthy slam dunk that sent the Chargers bench into celebration.
"Denby had a lot of fight in them tonight, they just kept coming at us and that's impressive," said Avery in the lockeroom following the win. "We have to learn to close out games a little better than we have been doing so far. Roy (Marble, Jr) had a great game.  He makes my job a lot easier. And he isn't just a scorer, he makes other players around him so much better too and that's invaluable. I thought our intensity and defense was excellent in the first half, but I thought we had a bit of a letdown that I didn't like to see late in the second half.
Avery sees the benefit of playing a rigorous non-conference schedule, per this season. "I tell the team, 'Championships aren't won in December.' These are the weeks we push and test ourselves and hopefully grow and learn from the experience. Going through the battles in these types of games and these types of atmospheres are going to help us in the long run."
Denby was led by Bonner's 21 points. The Tars, who have been playing without their two best players this month due to transfer rules, drop to 0-4 on the year. Isaiah Sykes and Brandon Williams, both Division One-level recruits, joined the Denby hoop squad this season after playing the past two seasons at Detroit Finney and won't be eligible to play until January.
Southfield-Lathrup will have little time to bask in the glow of Saturday's win as Avery and his Chargers must start preparing for their Monday match-up with national powerhouse Detroit Pershing at Detroit Cass Tech.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Great Burnzini Returns - Holiday Season Hoops Picks

Southfield-Lathrup v. Detroit Denby (at Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – If the Tars' Isaiah Sykes (Detroit Finney transfer) was eligible to play I might feel differently, but the Chargers have been playing tough in their opening season losses and I see them breaking through into the win column against Denby Saturday night. Roy Marble goes for another double-double and Drew Gilchrest hits a big-time "3" down the stretch to pull out the win for Lathrup.
SL 74, Denby 71
Auburn Hills Avondale v. Academy of Oak Park (at Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – This game will be a close one for sure. AOP has some D1-quality talent in Demetrius Abner, Kendrick Ward and Cimerone Porter and they will be an interesting match-up for the Yellow Jackets' super-quick backcourt consisting of Ray Tillman, Tony Harris, and Tre Webb. The difference in this game could end up being the play of the Avondale frontcourt comprised of Malcom Little and Ryan Brancheau. Burney foresees Tillman drilling a buzzer-beater from the foul line to win it for the 'Jackets.
Avondale 76 AOP 74 (OT)
Pontiac v. Goodrich (at Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – The fighting Phoenix are just starting to round into form, as they try to adapt to a new roster blended with several transfers and players from both now-defunct Northern and Central squads. Juwaan Moody (a transfer from Orchard Lake St. Mary's) is so hot out of the box in his new Purple digs his swagger level is approaching a cool one hundred-thousand trillion.
OLSM 80 Goodrich 65
West Bloomfield v. Yspilanti (at Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – Get busy my main man, Larry Johnson!!! Spencer Parker posts a double-double, Blake Johnson's two free throws take things into OT and Lil' Gran Mama's 3-pointer in the closing seconds on the extra-session brings home the "W" for the Lakers.
Tha WB 71, Ypsi 69 (OT)
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Berkley (at Madison Heights Bishop Foley) – Kevonte Martin-Manley celebrates his recent football scholarship to BCS-bound Iowa by getting his hoop-hustle on against the Berkley defense for a game-high 25 points. Warriors play the role of Anthony Hopkins in the 1998 thriller, "The Edge" and the Bears play, well, the Bear who Hopkins kills in the underrated late-90's climatic cinema classic
Brother Rice 67, Berkley 60
Southfield-Lathrup v. Detroit Pershing (at Detroit Cass Tech) – I love me some Roy Marble, Drew Gilchrest, and Bryan Coleman, but defeating the rock-solid and athletically-freakish Doughboys is a tall task. The Chargers put up a fight, but Keith Appling and his Pershing soldiers are just too good in the end.
Pershing 83, Southfield-Lathrup 71
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Madison Memorial (at Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – Ray McCallum goes all RAY MCCALLUM!!!!! …………and the 'Jackets stay unbeaten
DCD 78 Madison Memorial 58
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook v. Clawson – You can't stop the Trojans' Joe Baker, you can only hope to contain him.
Clawson 68 BH Cranbrook 62
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Gary Lew Wallace (at Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – Ray McCallum goes all RAY MCCALLUM!!!!!!............and the 'Jackets stay unbeaten. Wait, didn't I just write that? Doesn't matter, McCallum and his game are out of control, completely un-checkable and won't let any team, whether a squad from the hoops hotbed of Indiana or not, come into his house and steal a win.
DCD 84 Lew Wallace 66

Friday, December 25, 2009

Burney Claus

If Burney was Santa Clause, these are the gifts he would give out to some of the OC's finest on this glorious '09 Christmas holiday season:
To North Farmington's Kyle Vinales and Birmingham Seaholm's Richaud Pack, I would give a couple truckloads of Ice to cool down from their blazing hot starts with
To longtime Troy boys basketball head coach Gary Fralick, I would give another four freshman just like rising-phenom, James Young – Wow! This kid is a talent and a half!!!
To longtime Clarkston boys basketball head coach Dan Fife, I would give another few transfers like 6-5 junior Marcus Hardy (an emerging inside-outside threat when he gets more comfortable in the Wolves offensive system)
To Southfield's Carlton Brundidge, I would give just a few more dimes so he could go from putting up double-doubles every night to putting up triple-doubles every night
To Auburn Hills Avondale boys basketball head coach Tim Webb, I would deliver back  former hot-shooting star forward De Marquis Johnson to the Yellow Jackets roster so he could add the 6-5 junior who moved with his parents to Arizona to his already scary-good mix of perimeter players, including standout guards Ray Tillman, Tony Harris, and Tre Webb.
To Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes' junior girls hoop mogul Lauren Robak, I would give a healthy return to the hardwood in January – Your amazing antics on the court are greatly missed, just ask your dad…….lol
To head coach Mike Avery and his Southfield-Lathrup boys hoop squad, I would give an easier schedule to open the 2009/2010 season with and a win to kick-off the New Year
To Cameron Fields (West Bloomfield), Niko Palazeti (Novi Detroit Catholic Central), and Tyler Scarlett (Clarkston), I would give D1 football scholarship – all three of these underrated and underappreciated (at least in recruiting circles) football studs deserve a shot to play at the next level
To Birmingham Seaholm's Shawn Conway, I would give a deadly-accurate quarterback to play with for his senior season on the gridiron next fall – this kid is the genuine article on the football field, not to mention the basketball court, and is undervalued because most of his surrounding Maples teammates have trouble competing at anywhere near his level of play
To Seaholm football coach Chris Fahr, I would give a trip the post-season in 2010 – Fahr, his program, and their outstanding fan-base deserve it after two straight years of choppy waters on the field.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yellow Fever

*please note the Burney's Bytes prep sports blog will be up and running throughout the holiday break – please visit daily for fresh takes on the local high school sports scene posted every 24 hours
The boy's basketball team at Birmingham Detroit Country Day took a little pre-holiday road trip down to the American hoops heartland of Indianapolis, Indiana earlier this week and came home with some bragging rights for the state and a record that remains unblemished.
Behind a wickedly-good performance from their three-headed monster of a backcourt, the Yellowjackets took down a highly-rated (ranked 2nd in the state) Ft. Wayne Bishop Lauers team, 93-77, in the finale of the Midwest Basketball Challenge played at Indianapolis Howe High School on Tuesday night. Country Day stays perfect in the win column and improves to 5-0.
The Yellowjackets were led by the always-incomparable, Ray McCallum, who scored 34 points, dished out five assists and corralled eight rebounds on his way to being named MVP of the event. The 6-2 senior point guard – deciding between Arizona, UCLA, Florida, & University of Detroit-Mercy for his college playing destination – did his damage early and often, connecting on 14 of his 21 attempts from the field. McCallum's backcourt-mates, juniors Chris Fowler and Lee Bailey, routinely punished the Bishop Lauer defense as well. Bailey poured in 17 points, delivered nine assists, and grabbed four rebounds. Fowler scored 15 points and gave out seven assists.
The Yellowjackets imposed their will on the opposition from the opening tip and raced out to an 18-4 lead.  The tempo was ultra-fast and the Knights had a difficult time adjusting to Country Day's speed and defensive aggressiveness. Bishop Lauers shaved its deficit to just six points midway through the second quarter, but Country Day finished the half strong and led 47-32 at the break. Any thoughts of a Knights comeback were thwarted late in the third quarter when the Yellowjackets went on a 10-0 run that sent spectators to the exits early and made the fourth quarter a mere formality.
Possibly most impressive for the Yellowjackets in the game was their ability to hold the Knights' star player, De Shaun Thomas, one of the most prolific scorers in the entire country, in check when things counted the most. The Ohio State-bound Thomas, didn't tally a single point until the final 25 seconds of the intense and fast-paced first quarter and the 'Jackets defense held him to just 10 points in the whole first half. Although he wound up equaling McCallum's game-high scoring total of 34 points, a majority of them were scored in a fourth quarter when the game had already gotten out of hand. Thomas, a one-time AAU teammate of McCallum's just a few years ago, also hauled down 11 rebounds.
Currently the 7th leading scorer in the history of Indiana prep basketball, Thomas (2,400 points) will most certainly catapult into the top 3 by the end of the season and could very well end up breaking Damon Bailey's all-time Hoosier high school scoring record of 3,134. Bailey, a prep legend in the state of Indiana with few equals played at Bedford North Lawrence High School, located 15 minutes outside of Bloomington, where he led the program to a state title in 1990. (and remember back then Indiana's high school hoops tourney was all inclusive, no class divisions and Bailey's squad would have been the equivalent to a Class C school in a modern day comparison). After taking home the state championship and a Mr. Basketball Award his senior year, Bailey went on to have a solid career in college at Indiana University – he was a starter on the Hoosiers' 1992 Final Four team.
The quality defensive effort put in by Country Day was anchored by junior forward Kenny Knight and junior center Amir Williams, who both took turns guarding Thomas. Williams, a top Division 1 basketball recruit himself, had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Bishop Lauers is now 2-2. The Knights received a 22-point effort by junior Kenny Mullens.
Ray McCallum is no stranger to playing high school hoops in the prep-crazy Hoosier state. As a freshman and sophomore, McCallum played his first two years of varsity ball at Bloomington North, just down the road from Indiana University where his father, Ray, Sr. was an assistant coach. Ray McCallum, Sr., a Hooiser schoolboy legend of years past when he won back-to-back state championships as an all-state guard at Muncie Central in the late-1970's, is now the head coach at University of Detroit-Mercy.  Accepting the UofD-Mercy job in the spring of 2008, he placed his namesake at the athletically and academically elite Country Day School when he and his family moved to the Motor City last year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gone Too Soon - RIP Corey Jones and Paul Bradley

So last Saturday, I was at Country Day to cover the Orchard Lake St. Mary's-Saginaw game and I walked by a framed pair of jerseys in a hallway outside the Yellowjackets' state of the art gymnasium and immediately experienced an eerie flashback. The two jerseys that I saw and that are framed and perched on a wall prominently just a few feet away from the DCD locker room once belonged to former Yellowjackets athletes, Corey Jones and Paul Bradley.
Tragically, Jones and Bradley, both only 16 years old, drowned to death in June of 1992. Jones was a basketball player and a member of DCD's 1991 state championship team (C-Webb's third and final wooden mitten). Bradley was a football player and both were very popular amongst the Yellowjacket student body.
I knew Corey Jones as a casual acquaintance back when I was a teenager and I remember the horrible incident very well. Despite being one year younger than him, Jones and I had played some AAU basketball both against and with each other the previous summer. I was not very close friends with him by any means, but I knew him and I thought very highly of him.
I can recall hearing about the tragedy the morning after it happened. I was working at a summer day camp with one of Corey's cousins and she called and told me. It shook me, if only for the fact that I had never known anyone else personally who was my age and who had died before.
The story goes that some DCD athletes were having a party to kick-off summer vacation at one of their family's residences located on a lake in West Bloomfield and Jones and Bradley were in a canoe on the water that capsized. Neither could swim very well and both perished that afternoon – two, young and vibrant young man taken from us too soon.
Seeing those jerseys last Saturday evening as I walked down the hallway at Country Day made me remember Corey and Paul and how much they are missed. I remembered how I felt that day I heard about their passing – burdened, contemplative, sad, sympathetic. I was only 15 years old. I had never thought much about death. At that point in time, I still had all four of my grandparents alive and well.  
Several different forms of a "That could have been me" scenario played in my head over the next few weeks. I knew some of those other DCD athletes from that period too and I know how much that one incident affected them as well as the years went on. Like myself, Corey and Paul would be in their 30's right now. As I was driving away from the game and heading home to write my game story, I wondered what the two of them might be doing now as adults. I couldn't believe that over 17 years had gone by. I felt bad for not having thought about Corey or Paul since probably 1997 – possibly even longer. Tragedy is a term used far too frequently these days and this was a tragedy of epic proportions.   
Corey and Paul never got a chance to finish out their prep playing careers. Not to sound overly- schmaltzy or Mitch Albom-like, but on this week of Christmas, if you play high school sports and you're reading this, try to think of Corey and Paul a few times over the next few days and appreciate the gift that is your own high school playing experience.
Corey Jones 1975-1992
Paul Bradley 1975-1992
You are missed!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Boys Basketball Rankings - A Cager Christmas

OC Top 10
1 Birmingham Detroit Country Day – Ray McCallum and Amir Williams may be getting most of the headlines, but juniors Lee Bailey and Chris Fowler have been quiet assassins. Fowler would be scoring 20 per night on most other teams.
2 Clarkston –Senior standouts Matt Kamieniecke and Tyler Scarlett are as fundamentally-sound a one-two punch you can find in the county, maybe in all of Michigan.
3 Southfield – Junior catalyst Carlton Brundidge is becoming a more complete player every game. In addition to CB being one of the best scoring guards in the state, he is quickly developing into one of the top rebounding guards in the local prep ranks as well.
4 Pontiac – Transfer Juwaan Moody is a star in the making.
5 Birmingham Seaholm – It's hard to believe, but Richaud Pack seems to be getting better every time he steps on the floor. Point guard Christian Pino, a transfer from Bloomfield Hills Andover, has been a steadying influence on the Maples offense.
6 North Farmington – Robert Hogans emergence as a serious "Scottie Pippen" option to Kyle Vinales' "Michael Jordan" makes the Raiders as dangerous as they have been in quite some time.
7 West Bloomfield – Don't sleep on the Lakers this season. The WB could easily be un-defeated right now if Richaud Pack hadn't gone all RICHAUD PACK on them for 45 points last week. Blake Johnson is shooting the ball out of his mind right now and Larry "Lil Gran Mama" Johnson has been a picture of consistency.
8 Southfield-Lathrup – Watch for Roy Marble's supporting cast to round into shape by mid-January. Don't underestimate Drew Gilchrest and Bryan Coleman, both have yet to show their true colors yet.
9 Stoney Creek – I love Jake Fortner for his intensity and timely-play.  Backcourt-mates Arie Elder and Kevin Bolhuis get the job done anyway possible whenever necessary. 
10 (a) Novi – Samer Ozier, Samer Ozier, Samer Ozier……Jeremy Mims, Jeremy Mims, Jeremy Mims.
10 (b) Holly – Thomas Lovachis is the Real Deal Holyfield anytime he has the ball in his hands. His presence in the Bronchos line-up come January will automatically lift the team to another level. Lance Hopkin is a warrior.
10 (c) AH Avondale – The Yellow Jackets killer quick -backcourt of Tony Harris and Ray Tillman could re-name themselves Johna Hill and Michael Cera because these two are so so so"Superbad."
Honorable Mention: Rochester Hills Adams, Walled Lake Central, Waterford Kettering, Waterford Mott, Birmingham Roeper, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, MH Madison, MH Lamphere, Clawson, Ferndale, Troy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moving On Up

Special to The Oakland Press
Martin-Manley Changes Directions, Decides To Be Hawkeye 
Kevonte Martin-Manley is doing his best George Jefferson impression right now because he's Moving On Up! I'm talking about going from the side show to the main stage.
As early as last week, he was verbally-committed to play his collegiate football at mid-major, Bowling Green. But things change fast in the fast and furious world of primetime college recruiting and Martin-Manley will now be donning the black and yellow of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten.
Martin-Manley's road to big time college football has been one with quite a few zigs, zags, re-routes, and detours.
As of a mere two years ago, the Birmingham Brother Rice senior was thinking his future was on the basketball court. Although he has had a stellar prep hoops career, he eventually found his calling to be on the gridiron.   
Even though he had a dazzling junior season in 2008 with over 500 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, the 6-1 playmaker didn't field a lot of major college offers over the summer (some believe this was a matter of schools questioning KMM's speed factor). Midway through his senior year, this past fall, Martin-Manley decided to verbally commit to what he believed was his best mid-major option – Bowling Green in Ohio, a quality MAC program but definitely not the big stage his talent is worthy of.
Catching 45 balls for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns in the '09 season and helping lead the Warriors all the way to Division 2 final four last month, garnered renewed interest in the fleet-footed and deceptively-quick wide out. On Saturday, Martin-Manley was offered and accepted a scholarship to play at Iowa.
So it looks like all the hard work paid off and it truly couldn't have happened to a better kid. On the field, he always let his play do the talking and boy did it have a lot to say. KMM is the definition of a hidden gem on and off the field. Congratulations Kevonte, you've earned everything you got! Burney says, "Take it to'em at the next level and go Hawkeyes!"

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The regular season records remained unblemished Saturday for both the boys and girls basketball teams at Birmingham Detroit Country Day. The boys routed defending Catholic League champs, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, 71-43, and pushed their record to 4-0. The girls put in a dominating performance as well and crushed Detroit University Prep 69-42, to move to 6-0.
Junior super stud big man Amir Williams scored 15 points, blocked six shots, and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the boys. The titanic-backcourt of senior Ray McCallum (one of the most heavily-touted point guard recruits in the nation) and junior Lee Bailey, combined for 24 points and 13 assists. McCallum and Bailey each had 12 points apiece.
The 6-9 Williams has recruiters drooling with his rare combination of raw skill, power, and finesse. It would be huge for UofM head coach John Beilein to land this kid. The Wolverines need athletic bigs and Amir "The Sultan of Swat" Williams fits the bill……and then some.
The Lady Jackets were led by sensational sophomore Aerial Powers, who sliced and diced her way through the U-Prep "D" for 27 points and 6 rebounds. Powers is an emerging star and could easily be a top candidate for the state's Ms. Basketball Award in 2012. Senior center Madison Williams (Michigan State), had 12 points, eight rebounds, and ten blocks for the Country Day girls hoopsters – defending back-to-back state champions – to augment Powers' dominating outing .
Pound-for-pound, DCD probably has the best dual-hoops program in the state. The bar is set very high over in Yellowjackets country and that's a result of a combined 18 state titles between the two high-grade and talent rich programs over the past 25 years. As a result, practically every season, both squads are the cream of the crop and traditionally boast serious D1 firepower across the board. Head coaches Kurt Keener and Frank Orlando are both class acts and the kids from both programs more than follow suit.
Now, does a program like DCD maintain a significant advantage over the competition because it's a private school and they can provide financial assistance and such to certain student-athletes? That's a discussion for a whole other time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dunkers' Delight

A list of the best slam dunkers I've seen in my time watching prep hoops in Oakland County (1988 – present)
Please note: This list is in no particular order and does not include current OC ballers
Chris Webber & Iyapo Montgomery (DCD) – These two running buddies who led the Yellowjackets to back-to-back-to-back state titles in the late-80's and early-90's, busted up a fair share of rims in their day. Webber (Michigan/NBA All-Star) was a big man, yet had gazelle-like grace and that carried over to his dunking arsenal. Montgomery (UofD-Mercy) was a spry wing, who loved to fill the lane on the break and swoop in for the jam off passes from rock-steady point guard Kevin Colson (Florida A&M).
Mark Chappell (Southfield-Lathrup) – Not as much of a pure scorer as his baby brother Mike (Duke/Michigan State-ncaa championship) was, but this older-Chappell model was more of a skywalker and one of the premiere dipsy-doo-dunkerooers in the OC back in the early-1990's. 
Elvin Jones (Ferndale) – A three sport-star for the Eagles back in the mid-to-late-1990's (he was also an All-State football and high jump stud for the Eagles who accepted a gridiron scholarship from Indiana University in 1997), Jones was a high flyer with few equals in his era of play – the beneficiary of a barrage of alley-oop passes from all-state point guard Rashad Phillips (UofD-Mercy) in his three season varsity career.
Ryan Aaron (MH Madison) – The most recent dunk king in the OC. This explosive leaper was able to accumulate an almost –unthinkable 60 dunks over the course of 21 games in the 2008- 2009 season.
David Bowens (Orchard Lake St. Mary's) – Just plain power and brute force attacking the rim whenever this future NFL veteran took to the air for the slammer-jammer during his time playing for some stacked Eaglets' hoop squads in the mid-1990's.
Theron Wilson (Royal Oak Dondero) – Amazing vertical jump for such a big guy. Wilson was vicious in his slam antics, aggressively badgering the hoop in his days playing for the Oaks in the early-1990's. The 6-9 rangy and athletic power forward was the best player to ever suit up for the now-defunct Dondero HS and a starter on an Eastern Michigan squad in 1996 that won the MAC league championship and upset Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Martell Webb (Pontiac Northern) – In my humble opinion, the best of an outstanding crop of high-risers that played for the Huskies in their last decade of existence as a program. A master of the Windmill-Tomahawk special, Webb accepted a football scholarship to the University of Michigan following a more than stellar prep athletic career.
Mando Martin (West Bloomfield) – An electrifying presence in the Lakers '03 run to the Class Final Four, energizing the WB student cheering section with an array of marquis-worthy dunks.
Ryan Perryman/Jamie Arnold (Oak Park) – This imposing frontcourt tandem slammed and jammed their way through the early-1990's for head coach Howard Golding's Oak Park Knights. Perryman (Dayton) dunked with power and flair. Arnold (Wichita State), a long and lanky leaper, played above the rim.
Mike Carter (AH Oakland Christian) – The best small school dunker this area has ever seen. Carter, an all-state athlete in three sports for three straight years, was the definition of a human-pogo stick.  
Wyki Tyson (Troy) – Very underrated in the pantheon of great Colt athletes. Tyson (Cal-State Fullerton) slammed them down with raw power mixed with a tinge of silky-smooth flavor.
L.J. Shelton (Rochester) – This future NFL star came after the rim in his prep hoop days for the Falcons at the same pace and unbridled-intensity as he did pancaking numerous defensive lineman during his pro football career.
Ira Newble (Southfield) – Dunked with authority and was the master of the tip-jam back in the early-90's for the Blue Jays. Newble was a gym rat and his workmanlike and scrappy demeanor on the court earned him a rather lengthy career in the NBA.