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, March 4, 2010

Showcase Showdown - Robak vs. Alexander

Lauren Robak – 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals
Amber Alexander – 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals
When the two best small school teams and individual players in the Metro Detroit area girls bball scene square off on the court, you know it's going to be a war of wills. And a war of wills it was, when Lauren "Mrs. Fourth Quarter" Robak and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes and Amber Alexander and Auburn Hills Oakland Christian met up for a high-profile tilt in a Class D district final.
The first half was a good ole' fashioned shootout between the teams' two outstanding junior forwards, with Alexander (6-2, long, lean, and mean) scoring all 13 of her points in the game's first 16 minutes and Robak putting in 10 points, while spending a practically half of the second quarter on the bench in foul trouble. Battling nose-to-nose up until the midway point of the much-anticipated championship clash, Robak lived up to her well-deserved nickname late and came up huge down the stretch, sprinting past Alexander in their one-on-one face-off and leading her Lakers to a runaway 54-40 win (not to mention the program's third consecutive district title).
Robak finished with a game-high 25 points, 15 in the second half, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the game's closing minutes. The 5-9 Robak, who can go inside and out with the best of then, added 10 rebounds, five assists, and four steals in the championship-winning effort.
First, let me say that Amber Alexander is a heck of a competitor, an excellent overall athlete and a very good basketball player. I give her a ton of credit for not resting on her laurels as a naturally-gifted athletic specimen and continuing to get better every year since she emerged on the local prep landscape as a "diaper dandy" freshman back in 2008. Alexander is very smooth and fluent in her movements on the court too, almost gazelle-like with her long wingspan and thoroughbred running style.  What I like most about Alexander's game is her upside as a player. She's very hard to contain right now and if she keeps improving at her current rate she will end up earning herself a college scholarship. My point is as good as she is right now she can still get a lot better. Lancers head coach, Ed Mehlberg puts her up there with the best he has ever had the honor of coaching, girls or boys, and that says more than most can imagine coming from a coaching legend like Mehlberg (1992 state championship).
Now, on to the ever-destructive Robak, who just kills opponents everytime she hits the floor and does it in so many breathtaking ways. "Mrs. Fourth Quarter" is the ultimate "point forward", directing the Lakers offense for almost half of every game from the top of the key. She's a great passer and isn't afraid to mix it up in the paint fighting for rebounds. To make a long story short, Oakland University head coach, Becky Francis, did her Golden Grizzlies a real big favor by sewing up her services quickly last fall before any other schools found out what a true gem this girls really is. What a gamer too. I swear Lauren sweats ice, that's how coldblooded this girl is in the clutch. The word unshakeable doesn't do her justice.  
And let me tell you something else, I don't want to hear any flack about her playing at a small school and not getting tested against the best competition night in and night out. If you've seen Robak play, you know that notion is totally false. Just to put it in perspective, if they played in the OAA Red this year, both WOLL and Oakland Christian would finish well above the 500 mark and would almost certainly have been in contention with North Farmington, Lake Orion, Rochester, and S-Lathrup for the conference crown. Mark my words, Robak herself will make a major mark in college at OU come 2011 and beyond. Furthermore, I will go on the record and say that she will make the Summit League All-Conference team more than once in her four year college career. Trust me on this one. Would Burney ever steer you guys wrong when it comes to over the top prep prowess? Of course not!
Anyway, back to the game. Robak and Alexander were both hot early. A Robak 3-pointer from the left elbow, backed-up by an assist and two free throws gave WOLL a 13-7 lead. Alexander got in on the scoring binge following a Lancer timeout and fired in seven straight, capped by a buzzer-beating 3-ball from the left corner to bring Oakland Christian to within a possession, 17-14, at the conclusion of the first quarter.
The pair of shooting stars exchanged 3-pointers to open the second quarter and Alexander's bucket in the lane made it a one point-game at 27-26 with a little less than 90 seconds to play in the half. Lauren's sister, Lexie Robak, a sweet-stroking freshman sniper, drilled a 17-foot jumper in the closing moments of the quarter to put the score at 31-26 in the Lakers' favor heading into the intermission.
In a bit of on the court irony, the start of the third quarter was all about "Mrs. Fourth Quarter"…… Lauren Robak. Kicking her game into overdrive, Robak busted loose for nine consecutive points and propelled WOLL into a 42-32 lead a little less than five minutes into the second half. Besides Robak's on the money point-purge in the game's final 16 minutes, it was the play of freshman Ava Doetch on both ends of the floor that carried the Lakers to another banner. Doetch was switched onto Alexander by head coach Steve Robak (Lauren and Lexie's dad) for defensive purposes and completely shut the Lancers' star player down, swiping away four steals and holding her scoreless in the second half. On offense, she hit several timely shots and registered 17 points.
Putting Robak on the line late in a game is almost as dangerous as putting a gun to your own head and unfortunately that's what Oakland Christian did as the heated affair wound down. Proving as lethal as advertised, she sank six straight from the stripe with each and everyone one of them touching nothing but twine.
Following the district trophy presentation, Lauren Robak, was smiling ear to ear. "This is really exciting getting our third straight district championship, I can hardly believe we've been able to win one every year since I've been on varsity," she said. "I wanted to get this one for Alexis (senior co-captain Alexis Doetch), because it's her last year on the team. She's a great leader. I can't wait for our next game."  
 The OU-bound phenom of a lady hoopster had nothing but positive things to say about Alexander.
"I have so much respect for her as a player," she said.  "She's such a great athlete and she plays so hard, I haven't gone up against many opponents that are as gifted as she is."
Her dad and head coach, Steve Robak, sees Alexander has someone who is often hard to prepare for. "Amber creates match-up problems and that by itself makes her very effective as a player," he said. "She has size and athleticism and that makes her very hard to defend. Wow, did she play well in the first half. She hit a lot of big shots and was going blow for blow with Lauren. I think Ava did an unbelievable job limiting her effectiveness in the second half. Oakland Christian will be very tough next year and Amber is only going to get better."
Oakland Christian's Mehlberg wasn't as quick to delve out overwhelming praise for Robak.
"She's a good player".
When asked to expand on his comments, he repeated himself, "She's a good player."
Mehlberg seemed to take offense to the notion that the game featured a showdown between Robak and Alexander. "That's ridiculous," he said. "This isn't the NBA. This game had nothing to do with Lauren and Amber. They're totally different players. This game was Oakland Christian versus Our Lady of the Lakes."
The Lakers win avenges a December loss to the Lancers in a game in which Lauren Robak was out of the line-up with a broken hand. The trophy room at the Robak house is on the verge of overflowing as Lauren has now captured three district, two Catholic League, and one regional title in her three year career.
WOLL can now boast an overall record of 17-5. The loss for Oakland Christian sends the Lancers out of the state tournament with a final record of 19-3. Earlier in the month, Mehlberg and his squad won their first MIAC league title in three years. The winner of the Birmingham Roeper district awaits WOLL in the regional semi-final next Tuesday night at Oakland Christian.


Blogger Michael said...

It's your favorite Laker alum. Good piece on the game, and you know Lakes is stomping Roeper next week right?

March 4, 2010 at 11:53 AM 

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