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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 12

As we head into the final month of the regular, lets take another look at how the county's best boys hoops squads stack up against each other.

Oakland County Boys Basketball Rankings - for final week of January '09:

1. Birmingham Detroit Country Day 12-0 - playing at a complete other level than the rest of the competition

2. Clarkston 8-0 - is anyone in the state better than Wolves' senior shooting guard Brandon Pokely beyond the arc?

3. Novi Detroit Catholic Central 10-1 - the most balanced team in the area. the shamrocks go ten deep and every player can hurt you.

4. Lakeland  9-1 - i've said before and i'll say it again, senior point guard Mike Fugate (Saginaw Valley State) is a D1 talent.  MAC schools, you did not do your due dilligence.

5. Orchard Lake St. Mary's 7-3 - the Eaglets are once again flying high this year.

6. Holly 8-1 - a minor oversight by Burney in the previous set of rankings.  Jordan Fowler and Justin Hopkin, my bad and please accept my apologies

7. West Bloomfield 7-3 - Lakers' wing Chris Hurst (25 points in his last game) is starting to play like former West Bloomfield stud, Roderick Hurst.

8. Pontiac Northern 7-3 - shooting guard De Andre Davis can go toe-to-toe in a scoring battle with anyone in the are a.

9. Troy 9-1 - Bobby Wunderlich is a wonder to watch

10. Novi 9-1 - the Wildcats killer bees, Chris Bellamy and Brandon Bryant, are wrecking havoc in the KLAA.  

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 11

In the midst of the first losing season of her high school basketball career, Southfield-Lathrup senior point guard Tiffany Williams, is handling the situation with a stiff upper lip. Considering how other star athletes may have dealt with the circumstances surrounding being on a state title team just three years ago and now being reduced to playing for a squad that is 3-9, Ms. Williams deserves commending. The only Chargers player to be a part of the school's 2005/2006 state championship, Williams - who also has taken home 3 straight district crowns and a regional title to boot - is not discouraged by the down turn and continuing to display her trademark leadership and savvy on the court. Immersed in a rebuilding year for the Lathrup program while being the only senior on the team, Williams is content on teaching the team's younger players what it takes to be a champion, instead of complaining that her final year on the high school hardwood is not making her a champion again. She's even taking head coach Michelle Jackson's plan to give the underclassmen as much playing time as possible in a season that could already be lost in stride, even though it has meant less clock on the court for her. Williams came off the bench last Saturday against Saginaw Arthur Hill, the state's number three ranked team, without saying a word and then almost led her team to an upset victory over the stacked Lady Lumberjacks - the true demonstration of a class act. Scoring 8 points in the fourth quarter and nailing a=2 0long 3 from the top of the key with under a minute and a half to play that tied the game up at 43-43, Williams showed why she is such a jewel on the floor. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 10

Its been a pretty good year so far for Novi senior athlete Chris Bellamy. For starters, he quarterbacked the Wildcats' football team to a 7-2 regular season record, running and throwing all over the field in guiding Novi to another solid season on the gridiron. What is so impressive about that feat is before last August, Bellamy had never taken a snap from behind center in a varsity game. The previous two seasons, he was a stand out wide receiver and only switched to quarterback at the behest of the coaching staff, who needed leadership at the much-valued position. Quick to adapt to his new role on the field, by the end of the year, Bellamy looked like a veteran signal caller and led his team into the playoffs. Now that its basketball season, Bellamy has taken his exploits to the hardwood. With his team playing down a man - two year starter Brandon Bradford was cut from the team in the pre-season due to disciplinary issues - the 6-2 senior point guard has taken his game to another level. Bellamy is pumping in points by the truck load, including a season-high 38 points a few weeks back, and the Wildcats hoop squad is unbeaten. Personally, I wouldn't want to be a team that Novi plays in the state tournament, knowing that Chris Bellamy is obviously intent on finishing his high school athletic career with a bang.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 9

After a less than impressive start to its schedule, Oak Park's boys basketball team appears to be back playing at the level they were at last season and projected to be this season. The Knights, who put together a quality 18-4 record in 2008 before bowing in double overtime to Detroit Northwestern in the regionals and were highly thought of coming into 2009, lost three straight to open the year and seemed to be reeling from failing to live up to expectations. Granted the team had to acclimate to a new line-up and the loss of some studs from last season's group, including star forward Brandon Allen, but i'm pretty certain that head coach George Ward didn't expect his squad - a team that made all the local papers' pre-season top 10 rankings - to have to wait until after Christmas to get its first win. Nonetheless, that's exactly what happened when Oak Park took down a much touted Chicago Crane team in an inspired effort in the Motor City Roundball Classic on December 29 to move its record to 1-3 heading into the new year. Since then, however, the Knights have been playing lights out basketball and it looks as if they are finally starting to take the form of the elite hoops squad everyone expected them to be from the onset. Oak Park has now won three of its last four games, including a heart-pounding 77-75 overtime win against Pontiac Northern that saw the Knights fight back from a 9 point deficit in the final two and a half minutes of regulation to force an extra period of play and then claim victory on a buzzer beating bank shot in the lane. Following a rough opening month of the season,transfer senior point guard, Sam Burton, is rounding into shape and developing into the floor leader he was on Detroit Central the past 3 years. Against Pontiac Northern he showed why he's the consumate playmaker, delivering a breath-taking performance of 20 points, 12 assists, 10 steals and 8 rebounds, not to mention a buzzer-beating floater to send the game into overtime and the assist on the game-winner. Kallante Miller - going to play for Detroit-native Ernie Ziegler at Central Michigan in 2010 - could be the most athletically-gifted wing in the area and has the ability to dominate games when he wants to. Underclassmen, Jaylen Crawford (brother to collegiate standouts Joe and Jordan Crawford and a transfer from Detroit Renissance last season) is hard to defend when he goes to the basket and Daryl Flemister is one of the quickest guards in the county. Mix in steady role players like Preston Brandon, Chris Dewberry, and Jeff Suber and you have what should be a dangerous team the rest of the year.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 8

In its effort to get back to the glory days of Novi Detroit Catholic Central basketball (i.e previous decades' teams led by the likes of Andy Short, Mark McDonald, Chris Young, Nick Moore), head coach Bill Dyer's Shamrocks' have gotten off on the right foot.  CC is undefeated so far this season at 7-0 - beating a highly-thought of Warren De La Salle squad on tuesday, while holding Pilots' star, Alex Marcotullio, to a mere eight points - and features an attack that is the definition of well-balanced. This team has no superstars, yet they win with a stellar and deep mix of quality talent and an overall high hoops IQ on the floor. Seniors Tim Dezelski, Jamie Morris, and freshman Matt Doneth aggressively patrol the paint on defense and on offense all three can put in points, especially Dezelski, who can score from inside and out. Junior Brandon Hess is solid at the point, a true floor leader who looks to pass first and shoot second. On the wings, Brett Smith and Steve Harding each have a nose for the hoop and have the ability to heat up in a hurry. Chris Barnas and Shea Kettner are stalwarts off the bench. With the way things are going, the Shamrocks will definitely compete for the Catholic League title and most likely make a strong run in the state tournament.  After several years of mediocrity, CC seems to be making a play at re-storing the past Shamrock pride on the hardwood.  

At first glance this season, I questioned if Pontiac Northern's Gabby Machado,20was a true big ten talent - she is heading to Iowa on a full ride next year. Seeing her play last season, I wasn't that impressed.  A small DI school maybe, I thought would be a good fit, but not big time college hoops. Watching her twice in the last week, I realized how wrong I was to doubt Machado's luster and skill.  There is no doubt she is a bonafide Big Ten player, with the potential to be a very good one at that. Machado has a sugar sweet floor game. She is multi-dimensional with her scoring ability and a vocal leader, always trying to encourage her teammates. On Tuesday night, she put on a show, plain and simple: she scored 26 points, corralled nine boards, dished eight assists, and collected six steals, in her team's defeat of Southfield-Lathrup. Taking down previously undefeated Lake Orion last Saturday, she score 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds. A week ago in a loss to North Farmington, she scored 12 of her 22 in the fourth quarter, spearheading a late rally that saw her Huskies trim a 24 point deficit to just four in less than six minutes. This girls can straight out play and I can't believe I ever thought otherwise.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 7

Oakland County Girls Basketball Top Ten

1. Birmingham Detroit Country Day - With so many division I talent, could end up being the greatest girls hoops squad to ever play in Oakland County - and thats saying a lot considering the bevy of state title teams at DCD head coach Frank Orlando has overseen.

2. Birmingham Marian - I don't think there could be a top ten without the girls from Marian, especially on the 20th anniversary of its great 1988 team.

3. Lake Orion - Brittany Waterworth may be the county's best player.

4. Walled Lake Central - it seems like Brooke Gustafson has been playing for the Vikings forever and the Central faithful are counting their lucky stars for Gustafson's long tenure.

5. Farmington Mercy - Mercy, mercy me for any team going up against this loaded firing squad from Farmington.

6. Pontiac Northern - Gabrielle Mauchado is the real deal holyfield, a scoring machine with few equals

7. Rochester Adams - The Newsom twins are making their last season on the high school hardwood count, getting the Highlanders off to their best start in over a decade.

8. Birmingham Roeper - Small school powerhouse who can play with any big school in the area....Junior forward Ashli Pearson can pump points in from anywhere on the floor

9. Bloomfield Hi lls Andover - The killer-quick backcourt of Thomas, Fields, and Chocral do a lot of damage.

10. Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes - Another small school who is playing at an elite level...Super soph Lauren Robak is a rising star. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 6

Back in the day - translation, the mid-1990's when I played high school bball - the Oakland Press used to have its own weekly rankings for the top hoops teams in the county.  Well, I've decided to bring them back....if not in the actual paper itself - as much as I would like to think I do, I don't have that kind of pull - at least through my blog.  I'll start with the boys and in my next entry move to the girls.

Oakland County Top Ten - Boys Basketball

1. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (7-0) - A college-like team parading as a prep hoops squad. With super-transfer Ray McCallum, Jr, in the Yellowjackets' line-up there is no stopping this group.

2. Clarkston (5-0) - Off to a great start and Just the right mix of players to take head coach Dan Fife to the Breslin Center in March for the first time

3. Orchard Lake St. Marys (4-0) - Dion Sims is finally healthy, so its watch out Catholic League

4. White Lake Lakeland (6-0)- Point guard Mike Fugate is a beast and the Eagles probably have the best guard rotation in the county with him, Brett Burmeister, and Blake Heiman.

5. Birmingham Brother Rice (5-1) - Kevonte Martin-Manley and Austin Fowler are double trouble for all opponents

6. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (6-0) - Balance is the key word for the Shamrocks, as their depth is certain to take them far this season

7. West Bloomfield (4-2)- The Credit twins and a plethora of speedy guards will translate into another solid season for coach Andre White's Lakers

8. Auburn Hills Avondale (5-1)  - Under head coach and former Pontiac Central stand out Tim Webb, the Yellowjackets are trying to get back to their 2002 state championship form.  With a 5-1 record out of the gate, they're on the right track

9. Southfield (3-2)- sophomore sensation Carlton Brundidge, enough said!

10. Pontiac Northern (3-3) - De Andre Davis and "Ant" Adams are the motor that make this Huskies team go


Friday, January 2, 2009

Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes

Blog Entry # 5

This installment of the Burney's Bytes Blog will feature some observations from the first month of the prep basketball season. There's been some great hoops action, with lots of outstanding individual performances in December and its only going to get better. Here are some notable early-year tidbits to keep your eyes on as the season progresses. Oh, and by the way: Happy New Year!!!

These days whenever the various recruiting web sites talk about the area's top sophomore guards, the first name to be mentioned is always, Southfield's Carlton Brundidge. Now, make no mistake about it, Brundidge is the real deal. He's ultra-assertive on the court, deceptively quick getting to the hoop, and already a bonafide floor leader at a very young age. That all said, lets not forget about Pontiac Northern sophomore speedster, Anthony "The Ant" Adams, who in my book is just as impressive of a talent as the more highly-vaunted Brundidge. Leading his team to a 4-0 record out of the gate, Adams is cool as a tall glass of ice water whether he's spearheading a fastbreak, driving past defenders on his way into the lane and looking to create, or pulling up for one of his silky-smooth jump shots. Make certain that the Huskies' pesky and punishing Ant is on your radar when evaluating the top playmakers in the county.

Birmingham Detroit Country Day transfer, Ray McCallum, Jr. could very well be the best high school guard I have ever seen play. Much-hyped from his time playing his freshman and sophomore seasons in Indiana, McCallum comes to Oakland County for his final two years as a prepster "as advertised" - a true hoops phenom on the basketball floor. His game is as complete as they come for a 16 year old. I've never seen a high school point guard with such outstanding court vision. He can kill you inside by driving into the circle with his unbelievable speed or crush you from the outside with his 3-point shooting. Not to mention he possess the innate ability to know exactly when to go for the score himself and when to drop a dime to a flashing teammate. The only flaw in his game at this point could be his perimeter shot, which needs some help in the consistency department. But even that said, his stroke is text book. McCallum's play is infectious as well. He has DCD, a program sometimes known to coast on its talent alone, playing at a very high level early in the year and like any true great athlete, is elevating the play of those around him. It looks as if Yellowjackets head coach, Kurt Keener, has another all-american on his hands. And with McCallum leading his team, just like when Chris Webber and Shane Battier were in his stable, the chance to take home multiple state titles.

At the start of the season, some people predicted that head coach Ernie Righetti's Birmingam Roeper girls basketball team would be down a bit this year. Its understandable, I suppose. The Roughriders', who were 24-1 last season and advanced to the Class D quarterfinals, lost its star player in point guard Bianca Barton, a do-everything floor leader that was the team's heart and soul. Well, to those pundits that thought Roeper would take a step back, think again. With Oakland County sideline legend, Righetti at the helm for his 23rd year and once again doing a terrific job at getting the most out of his talent, the Roughriders have adapted quite nicely to Barton's departure and are threatening to put together back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. Going into the new year, they're 5-0. And just like last year when they won all of their regular seasons games by an average of 22 points, they're romping through the competition and winning with relative ease - their average margin of victory so far has been 17 points. Seniors Stephanie Holloman (center) and Tricia Haslinger (point guard) have stepped forward and replaced Barton as the team's coaches on the floor and junior standout, Ashli Pearson (small forward), is excelling as the squad's new top scoring option. When you add freshman sensation Briana Ratchford and senior transfer Jessica McGlory into the mix, Righetti's Roughriders are poised for another great season and very possibly another long run in the state tournament.

For the West Bloomfield Lakers boys basketball team, Batman and Robin have left the building. Josh Eichelberger and Roderick Hurst, last season's high-scoring dynamic duo, have graduated and are no longer donning the green and white. Have no fear Lakers faithful, head coach Andre White, has put together an unheralded, yet extremely dangerous group of players for this years team, who in my opinion, will end up having more success than last years tremendously respectable 16-4 squad led by Eichelberger and Hurst. This current bunch goes ten deep and play a lightning fast and rough and rugged brand of hoops. They are tenacious on defense and everyone who makes it on the floor has a knack for the basket. The three-headed back court of Eric Ellis, Stephen McCarty, and Tyler Sarter are each smart playmakers, who motor down the court with reckless abandon. Small forward Chris Hurst is a scoring threat anywhere on the floor. Frontcourt mates, the Credit brothers - talent-laden 6-6 twins, Antonio and Antwaan -, along with Mike Martin and David Pool, both 6-7 apiece, make up imposing group threats on the block. The individual numbers on offensive won't wow you like last year, but the results on the floor will be the same, or like I predict, even better.