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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Great Burnzini Returns - District Baseball Bonanza

Here are Burney's Picks For This Week's Start of The 2010 State Tournament:
Royal Oak
Royal Oak
Warren Mott
Warren Cousino
Warren De La Salle
Pick – The host-Ravens and red-hot Berkley Bears could both end up pulling the upset over the defending state champs, Warren De La Salle, but Burney just doesn't have the guts to predict it. DE LA SIZZLE DOUSES THE COMPS UPSET BID and RETURNS TO MACOMB CTY W/ TITLE IN HAND
Troy Athens
Troy Athens
Utica Eisenhower
Pick – The HIGHLY-ACCLAIMED (BY BURNEY AT THE VERY LEAST) PITCHING ROTATION OF Alex Harrison, Alex Riopelle, and Ira Land will carry the Red Hawks to the title. ATHENS DOES A VICTORY DANCE ON ITS HOME FIELD
RH Adams
RH Adams
Lake Orion
Stoney Creek
Pick – EXTRA, EXTRA, A BURNEY SUPERSONIC UPSET SPECIAL: I just have a feeling after all the ups and downs the Dragons of Lake Orion HAVE EXPERIENCED THE BASEBALL GODS WILL BLESS THEM W/ A LITTLE  POETIC JUSTICE  and LET THEM PREVAIL over the host-Highlanders in taking the DISTRICT CROWN
Birmingham Seaholm
Birmingham Seaholm
Birmingham Groves
Birmingham Brother Rice
West Bloomfield
Pick – Rice has put things together late in the season and will ride the momentum of its upset-win over Divine Child in the CHSL title game AT THE COPA LAST WEEK through districts and into regionals.  JIMMY PICKENS, TOMMY BARRETT, AND PAT MACKENZIE MAKE IT THREE DISTRICT MEDALS IN A ROW FOR THEIR VARSITY JACKETS
Waterford Kettering
Waterford Kettering
Waterford Mott
AH Avondale
Pick – Avondale has Brian Portelli and Taylor Drabek, the rest of the district draw does not…..SIMPLE AS PIE, ENOUGH SAID! YELLOW JACKETS WIN, YELLOW JACKETS WIN!!!
Pick – Tyler Scarlett brings home his third district championship trophy this school year and Clarkston continues its magical season with yet another banner-raising ceremony . GET BUSY MY MAIN MAN, T-SCAR!
WL Central
WL Western
WL Northern
South Lyom
Pick – WL Central finished the regular season on a losing streak, now Burney thinks the Vikings are going to end the weekend on a win-streak……aka…..hoisting the district championship trophy over their heads in celebration!
FH Harrison
North Farmington
Novi Detroit Catholic Central
Pick – The phrase "collision course" best describes what the squads at Farmington and Novi are heading for. This is the toughest call of the day for Burney. That said, I'm going to go with the team playing the best late in the season and that is the Wildcats. I've said it before, and now I'm saying it again…MEMO TO BURNEY'S HOMEBOYS FROM NOVI= C YA IN CEREAL CITY IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS!
Warren Fitzgerald
Warren Fitzgerald
Hazel Park
MH Lamphere
Birmingham DCD
Pontiac NDP
Pontiac NDP
BH Andover
BH Lahser
OL St. Mary's
BH Cranbrook
Pick – Eaglets of St. Mary's fly away with the district title. Most-Likely Upset Scenario: Host-NDP and/or Cranbrook could end up playing spoiler
MH Madison
MH Bishop Foley
Mt. Clemens
New Haven
Warren Collegiate
Pick – Bishop Foley is a grizzled squad with a number of grit-it-out wins and narrow-losses under its belt and that will pay dividends in the state tourney….NOTE TO THE VENTURES: CAN U SAY C YA IN DA CREEK aka THE BATTLE CRIZZLE..aka…. BATTLE CREEK FOR THE FINAL FOUR!  
MC Marine Cardinal Mooney
MC Marine Cardinal Mooney
AH Oakland Christian
RH Lutheran NW
Pick –  Miscovich, Novak, Massel, Berkseth…etc…..SENIOR STUD ALERT will EQUAL DISTRICT TITLE!
Southfield Christian
Southfield Christian
Novi Franklin Road Christian
West Bloomfield Jewish Academy
Pick – Host-Eagles swoop down on the comp and make away with the Golden Ticket…aka the district championship trophy!
GPW University Liggett
GPW University Liggett
SH Parkway Christian
RO Shrine
BH Roeper
Warren Macomb
Pick – All due respect to the Shriners, the Liggett Knights are on an inspired-win streak due to the recent release of the Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott remake of "Robin Hood" and like Crowe's surging acting career, there doesn't appear to be any end in sight

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Success

Hazel Park High School doesn't exactly have a reputation as one of the better prep athletic programs in the area. However, the Vikings have proven this school year that perception isn't always reality. Bucking stereotypes, all three major boys sports teams – football, basketball, and baseball – have been surprisingly good. The football team, led by the dominating running back-tandem of Dominic Wiggins and Dustin O'Malley, had one of the best ground attacks in the state last fall and qualified for the playoffs. After some years of lackluster play, the Vikings' hoops squad was a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood once again and was led into battle by the likes of Dakota Ogles – a human double-double in the post – and Wesley Ellis – one of the more underrated playmaking point guards in the county.
This spring, the baseball team at HP has kept the year's trend of athletic success alive and well and will enter the state tournament this week with a 16-8 overall record, coming off an exciting victory to wrap up its regular season campaign on the diamond.
In a game highlighted by offensive exploits, it was a big time defensive play that ended up winning it for Hazel Park in its final outing of the regular season. Holding onto a slim lead against Madison Heights Madison and facing a bases loaded jam, catcher Brandon Dietering made a diving catch of a foul ball along the first base line allowing the visiting Vikings to prevail 9-8 in a non-conference affair.
Junior Taylor Marshall – the quarterback of the football – went 2-for-4 on the day and drove in the game-winning run in the top of the seventh with an RBI-single.
Madison started the game with a serious pep in its step and put up six runs in the first three innings of play. Hazel Park quickly answered though and took a lead it wouldn't relinquish in the fourth inning on an RBI-single by Greg Hoobler.
Drew McClellan (two runs scored) and Carey Vanderhagen each had a pair of hits and an RBI apiece for the Vikings and head coach, Don Righter.
Tyler Matiyow headlined the Eagles offense with two hits and three RBI.
The road to a D2 district championship next Saturday afternoon at Warren Fitzgerald will be an uphill fight, since Hazel Park has been assigned to a district with the state's No. 1 ranked team in Madison Heights Lamphere as well as always-solid Birmingham Detroit Country Day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Five For Fighting - Three Is The Number

1. Tyler Scarlett (Clarkston) – The consummate varsity athlete and team leader !!!
2. Mitch Kozlowski (MH Lamphere) – There isn't much THE KOZ can't do and do really, really well!
3. Jack Quigley (Birmingham Seaholm) – This tri-sport captain is the definition of an unheralded, YET ALWAYS EFFECTIVE workhorse
4. Jimmy Pickens (Brother Rice)/Vinnie Booker (Lake Orion) – Both Pickens and Booker get a pass for not playing varsity basketball this past year, because each were such valued contributors to their respective school's hoops squads in previous seasons. When it comes to football and baseball, both are MAJOR LEAGUE "HIT MEN" – from their safety positions on the gridiron and from the plate on the diamond.
5. Austin Karbowski (WOLL) – Sometimes overlooked because he plays at a small school, Karbowski is a multi-talent that ranks up there with the best in the county

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glory of The Grizz

It's always great to see former prep studs from Oakland County excelling on the next level in college. And it's even better to see them doing it right here in the OC itself. That's what has been going on lately over on Walton Blvd. in Rochester with the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies baseball team.
With their backs, not to mention their one shot at a post-season berth, firmly pinned against the wall at the start of last week, the Golden Grizz (with the monumental aid of a number of former local prepsters) caught fire at the exact right time and have since reeled off four straight wins, qualifying for the four-team Summit League Championship Tournament in Oklahoma by the skin of their teeth. However, how they got there is of no consequence right now, as the Grizz have earned the right to fight for a ticket to the College World Series – played in Nebraska next month – and Burney knows with the kind of high-quality local talent leading the way for the Grizz, they could very well end up shocking the world and raising an almost-improbable banner.
You see Oakland U is only 22-32 on the year and most experts are probably picking them to lose early – NOT YOUR BOY BURNEY.
Anyone who knows anything about sports knows that once the playoffs hit anything can happen. Now, I won't go as far as predicting a first-place finish for the Grizzles, but I will say that Burney has a strong inclination that the Black, Green and Gold are going to surprise a bunch of people with their showing this coming weekend. JUST CALL IT A HUNCH, COACH MOOSE!
Let's get down to the nitty gritty and take a look-see at how the OC POWER PUNCH….er…..local talent on the diamond in the Oakland U program this year has been a major reason why the Grizz are playing their first round game today in Oklahoma against South Dakota State and not sitting on the couch at home with a bag of chips in hand watching it on television.
The OC-Grizz Connection Line-Up:
Tommy Jablonski (Oakland Christian)
Matt La Mothe (Troy Athens)
Eric Ogg (Clarkston)
Mark Leichtman (RH Adams)
Connor Mielock (Lake Orion)
Kyle Teague (Oxford)
Russell Luxton (Oxford)
Ryan Schario (Southfield Christian)
First off, Tommy Jablonski (Junior) and Matt La Mothe (Sophomore), were both recently named to the second team Summit League All-Conference squad. WAY TO GO FELLAS!  Jablonski might spawn from a small high school, yet his stats in the college ranks are anything but minute. He leads the team with a .370 batting average and has started 43 of the team's 46 games this season. La Mothe has K'd 62 batters in 66 innings of work and opposing sluggers are only hitting a combined .235 against him. The one-time Red Hawks ace, pitched a no-hitter through eight innings earlier this season against Memphis.
That brings us to Mark Leichtman, who has been a horse for his team when he;s been called on in the clutch. Leichtman, a crafty pitcher, got the win on the hill in the final game of the season against Southern Utah – the clincher for the Summit League Tourney berth. The former Highlander went six innings of work, gave up only five hits and one walk. The game before that, Connor Mielock spun a beauty against the Thunderbirds, going seven innings and only surrendering four hits in another big time win. The third to last game of the season was the "tipping point" that sent Oakland propelling into the post-season as the Grizz took a 13-12 slugfest that ended with a walk-off single. Guess who got the win in relief, spinning two scoreless innings?  That's right, my main man, Mark "The Light Master" Leichtman. COACH VAN ROBAYS JUST SHED A TEAR OF JOY ON HIS BEHALF!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planet of The Clutch

Clutch play in the OC was OFF THE CHARTS on Tuesday, taking the expression "Big time players make big time plays" to a whole other level.
Here's a quick breakdown:
From the baseball diamond
Senior Jake Davis hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead THA CREEK……..Stoney Creek to a 6-5 defeat of AH Avondale
OL ST. Mary's got a game-winning base knock from senior James "The Big Buda Man" Edwards (Grambling) in the bottom of the eighth as well in its 6-5 out- of-conference victory over WL Central  
*Both Davis (went the distance w/ 8Ks) and Edwards got the 'W' from the pitching mound to add to their respective stellar outings from the dish
Alex Masell completed a 3-for-4 day from the plate by smacking a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning to win it for RH Lutheran Northwest, 7-6, over SH Parkway Christian. BURNEY HAS A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THE CRUSADERS AS WE HEAD INTO THE STATE PLAYOFFS, KINDA LIKE HE DID A FEW YEARS BACK WHEN THEY WON THE STATE TITLE......DO I SEE A BIG BOWL OF CEREAL WAITING FOR LNW IN BATTLE CREEK IN JUNE?    AS MY MAIN MAN, RIP HAMILTON MIGHT SAY......YESSSSSSSIIIIR !
On the softball diamond
WL Central looked the NY Miracle Mets in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against West Bloomfield by brining six runs across the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to comeback from a hefty deficit and defeat the Lakers 7-6
Ace Avondale hurler Katie Moy mowed down 19 batters from the circle over a two-game sweep of the Royal Oak Ravens that allowed the Yellowjackets to clinch the outright OAA White Division championship.   GREAT JOB, K-MO! NOW TAKE THE 'JACKETS TO 'THE SHOW' ER......THAT DISTRICT TITLE NEXT WEEK!  COME ON, DO IT FOR BURNEY!
From the Soccer field
Hillary Braun and Stephanie Sikorski each scored a goal in the second  half to rally the Rochester Falcons back from two goals down in the final 20 minutes of play and secure a 2-2 tie with Birmingham Detroit Country Day

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Seventh Heaven

Just being able to get out on the gridiron and bang pads with an opponent a good three months prior to the start of the regular season is like heaven on earth for any true prep football warrior. Well, the OC has got a lot of those kinds of competitors in its midst and a group of them, known appropriately as the Oakland County All-Star Team traveled to the Best of The Midwest 7-on-7 Tournament this past weekend and came a mere hair away from taking home a first place trophy.
The OC All-Stars basically KICKED BUTT the entire weekend and performed so well the squad advanced all the way into the tourney's championship game, before losing on the final play of the game.
Suiting up for the STIZZZZARZ over the weekend were a few of my current primetime pigskin homeboys, like Alex Fine (Lake Orion), Nick Bradley (Rochester) and Raymiel Hill (Oak Park), as well as a couple more of my FOSHO future primetime pigskin homeboys like Cameron Boyd (S-Lathrup) Rashad Irvin (S-Lathrup), Alonzo Jones (Oak Park), Joey Goss (Clarkston) and Kyle Humphries (Farmington).
Bradley, going into his third year starting at quarterback for the Falcons this fall, was BRADSHAW-like throughout the whole event, running the offense with efficiency and flair and gunning the ball to open receivers with authority (BURNEY IS PREDICTING A RESURGENCE OF ROCHESTER FOOTBALL IN 2010...ON THE RECORD!). Fine, a feisty and smart defensive back who played most of his prep career so far in Ohio, led a sturdy OC 'D', calling plays from his free safety position.
Lake Orion head coach will look to Fine to spearhead a Dragons defense this upcoming season that lost some significant personnel from a very good '09 team. Burney can't wait to see the LO offensive attack next year with Sean Charette behind center for the third straight season, Marques Stevenson toting the ball in the backfield, and Danny Ney and Zach Zott splitting out wide and stretching the field as receivers. Throw in my main man, A-Fizzle anchoring the 'D' and I think the squad can make serious run at Ford Field in November.
On the LO recruiting front, Marques Stevenson just picked up his first d1 scholarhsip offer from the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Lets go BE ALL THAT U CAN BE next year on the football field as a senior with the Dragons and in all your future endeavors following, Marques!\

Monday, May 24, 2010

Burney's Boys Baseball Rankings - The Final Week!

The OC Top Ten
1 a. Novi – Burney sees something special in this group of Wildcats this year…..Can you say BATTLE CREEK?
1 b. RH Adams – Highlander hurler Matt Nestor and his steady and precise pitching this season has been ITZ….in THA ZONE!
2 MH Lamphere – 5-1 odds that the Rams would have either won or heavily-competed for the OAA North title if they had played up a division
3 Farmington – Great to see Falcons favorite, Dan Pochmara finally get back up on the mound!
4 WL Central – Jake "The Snake" Paulson = LAST NAME "EVER", FIRST NAME "GREATEST"! in the pantheon of Vikings' hurlers
5 Lake Orion – Dragons skip Andy Schramek heads one of the best run programs in the entire state of Michigan: Every year its discipline, hard-work, sportsmanship, gritty-resilience, and monster talent.  
6 Brother Rice – Things are starting to really come together….i.e. trip to THA COPA for the CHSL Championship game on Wed…… for the Warriors late, which is better than never!
7 OLSM – Things are starting to really come together …..i.e. a bullying county power, RH Adams in a doubleheader sweep of the Highlanders on Sat….. for the Warriors late, which is better than never!
8 MH Bishop Foley – The Ventures are so FRESH 2 DEATH they're going to be on life support entering their CHSL title tilt at THA COPA this week. CAN YOU SAY CHSL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR FIRECRACKER-HOT FOLEY DIAMOND BRIGADE WHEN THE DUST ALL SETTLES AFTER WED MORNING?
9 Groves – Senior swat-maestro Jake Balbes just keeps getting better at the plate….is that even possible? The term strike zone doesn't apply to this kid!
10 a Clarkston – Junior Matt Rodgers is just a flat out STUD with a capital 'S' whether he's on the baseball diamond or basketball court and he has the Wolves looking mighty mean right now as districts are set to begin in a week.
10 b Berkley – The Bears are one of Burney's "bonafied sleeper" picks this year in the state tourney!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rich Right

Going into his third year on the sidelines in Ann Arbor, University of Michigan head football coach, Rich Rodriguez has done very little right. In fact, Burney truly believes that the Wolverines "Great West Virginia Athletic Department Experiment" is nearing the end of the line and most-likely a year from right now neither, Rich Rod nor hoops coach, John Belien, will be in their current coaching digs, both banished from the A-Squizzle due to serious underachievement.
That all said, Burney does think that Rich Rod has been "Rich Right" regarding two things he has done in his tenure in the Big House. First off, last year he started a tradition that Burney thinks is just fantastic: The BBQ at The Big House. The event acts as a recruiting tool as well as a way to promote community within the Michigan football program. More schools across the board, whether youth league, at the prep level or in the college ranks, should try to implement such an activity. What could be better on a spring Saturday and/or Sunday afternoon besides BBQ'ing some steaks and burgers with all your family, coaches, teammates and potential-future teammates under the sun in the most famous college football stadium in the land?
Second, in March he offered a scholarship to local "diamond-in-the-rough" recruit, Shawn "The Big Punisher" Conway (Birmingham Seaholm), who promptly accepted. The Conway commitment is a feather in Rodriguez's cap if you ask me because this kid is going to blow up on the college level, despite the fact that his high school statistics thus far have not been off the chart. If Rodriguez would have waited for Conway's senior campaign to start up in the fall before offering him, he probably wouldn't have gotten him – a plethora of other top schools in the recruiting game would have certainly swooped in by then.
Conway – who also intends to walk-on to the Wolverines basketball team and room with UofM-hoops recruit and AAU bball teammate, Carlton Brundidge, once in Ann Arbor – attended the second annual BBQ at The Big House this weekend along with MH Madison, Valdez Showers, another of the OC's top college gridiron prospects. Showers, a stat-devouring running back and safety, currently has offers from both UofM and MSU, among many others. Not that highly-thought of in nationwide recruiting circles coming into this off-season, Showers…aka…."The Reign Man" has blown up this spring with high-rate performances at a number of combines and showcase camps, including the Nike Elite Camp in Columbus, Ohio held earlier this month. There is even talk around some college recruiters right now that he could even have some NFL-worthy potential that somehow wasn't recognized until recently.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Walk Off Wonderland

The big bad diamond cutters from Madison Heights Bishop Foley will be venturing southbound some 15 miles next Wednesday morning for its next ball game. Specifically, the Ventures will be playing at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit in the CHSL tournament championship game thanks to a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Allen Park Cabrini in the tourney semi-finals on Friday evening.
Senior captian, David Loeffler smacked a walk-off, game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh to win it for Bishop Foley, which runs its overall record to 28-5 with the climatic-triumph.
Head coach Buster Sunde was overjoyed with pride following the game.
"That was the most exciting high school baseball game I have ever been a part of," exclaimed the Ventures skipper. "These are the kind of games that make coaching worthwhile. To see the expressions on all the kids' faces after pulling this game out was an amazing feeling. All of the hard work put in by the players and the coaching staff paid off in a big way and in a big game today. I couldn't be happier right now."  
Falling behind 3-0 after three innings and then 3-1 after five, the prospect of making it to THA SHOW aka the tournament finale at THA COPA, seemed dim. However, the Ventures have captured nearly-30 games so far this year for a reason and that reason was evident by the resilience and rugged-clutch play displayed by the team late.
Pulling even at 3-3 going into the seventh, Foley starter, Jeff Schalk sent Cabrini down 1-2-3 in the top of the inning to set up the squad's last-gasp fireworks just moments later.
Okay, so here's where the expert-coaching and winning-instinct comes in from Field General Sunde, a one-time all-state baseball player and prop-worthy pro minor leaguer in his own right. As the game held in the balance, Sunde decided to go with his gut, a long-shot hunch that only the best of the best would run with. And run with said hunch he did. Sunde called on ailing sophomore Luke Ortell to pinch-hit and lead-off the bottom half of the frame from the plate. Under different conditions, this move would have been a no-brainer - Ortell is a very good hitter. But this season, Ortell has missed virtually the entire campaign with a broken leg. Recently recovered and suited up, Sunde obviously wasn't afraid to ring his number. And Ortell came through huge for his skip, swatting a double to open the inning and making Sunde look like the dugout genious he is. Loeffler, a starting guard on the Ventures basketball team in the winter, took over from there and the rest as the say…is HISTORY!
Going into their showdown with either Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard or Riverview Richard on Wednesday, the Ventures hold the number 3 ranking in the state in Division 3.
"These guys just kept chipping away and scratching and clawing our way back in the game after we got down early," Sunde said. "We never gave up or dropped our heads down. At the end, we manufactured some runs and made some real good things happen. This is a real talented group of kids."
Schalk didn't just bulldog his way to the win from the rubber either. On offense, he went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a monster blast of a home run in the fourth. Brett Sunde, the coach's son and prize-pupil, also had a solid day from the dish, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the sixth. The younger Sunde is one of the best sophomore catchers in the state regardless of class size and when you combine him with all the other tremendous young and skilled players the program has in it like, Danny Zuchowksi, THA SUPERCRAZYDEF SCHALK BOYZ (Jeff and Brad) and Billy Malak, the growth- potential for this group is very very high. As Burney's boy Van Wilder might say, "WRITE THAT DOWN"!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kicker's Paradise

It's been quite a prolific school year for the sport of soccer at ROCHESTER HILLS ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL. First, the boys varsity squad captured, conference, district and regional titles, on their way to a magical run into the D1 Final Four last November -which  sadly ended with a bitterly-contested 1-0 overtime loss to eventual-state champ, Birmingham Brother Rice. When it was all said and done, senior captain and team leader Joey Dillon was named All-State. My main man Joe will be playing his college ball the next four years in WASHINGTON DC at Georgetown.
quick to Dillon:
This spring with the Highlanders' girls team, it's been more of the same. Currently ranked number 6 in the state, the Adams lady kickers are 12-1-1 and with a 1-1 tie with intra-city foe, Stoney Creek, on Thursday evening, the squad clinches the Oakland Activities Association Red Division championship.  
Finding itself down 1-0 at the half, Adams dug down deep to force a deadlock and clinch the league crown. The Highlanders continued to pepper the net and with 22:55 remaining scored on a penalty kick by sophomore forward Hannah Lee.
Leading the way on defense for Adams was standout goalkeeper, Jessica Wineke, who made six saves. Wineke has been a brickwall in between the pipes all year long and with only ten goals allowed so far this season, she's practically a shoe-in for an All-State nod.
But like on all great teams, every game it's a different INGREDIENT OF that PROVERBIAL SOUP THAT steps up to get the job done when its most crucially needed. This past Monday, the Highlanders slipped past Utica Eisenhower 1-0 thanks to a goal by Mackenzie Barber. Last Thursday night on the road against perennial state frontrunner, Troy, it was Merlin Beckwith, Jessica Lang, and Kylie Nylen who netted goals in the Highlanders 3-1 upset-victory.
Although only a sophomore, Beckwith has emerged as one of the team's primary vocal leaders, encouraging her teammates and keeping them in line with the high-level of expectations she sets for herself and the program as a whole.
"This team has a lot of integrity and that makes us push ourselves to the limit in everything we do," she said, with a smile across her face and her arm around her best friend, Hannah Lee. "Some of us our young and have only been on the team a year or two, but the age thing isn't a factor. When teams try to exploit our inexperience, myself and some of the younger girls take pride on not letting them. We're going to keep playing our game and displaying the will power of a champion because that's what we expect of ourselves."
Beckwith smells blood in the water and desires her team to take advantage of it moving forward.
"People have a reason to fear us now and I like that," she said. "We've earned that kind of reputation and now we've got to make the most out of it."
The Lady Highlanders get back to action on Monday when they travel to Flint to do battle with Powers Catholic.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bonus Bytes - A Few Things You Should Know

Congrats to the Walled Lake Central boys baseball team and the Lakeland girls softball squad that each captured league titles on Wednesday in the KLAA.
Central topped Brighton 9-0 behind ace senior hurler, Jake "The Snake" Paulson's venomous performance on the mound –his sixth shutout win of the year. With the knockout-outing, the Vikings' infamous "Jake the Snake" slithers his way to a 10-0 overall pitching record and steers his team to its first ever conference championship.
Unlike the boys over at Central, the young ladies hacking away over at Lakeland are no strangers to championship hardware. Led by the incomparable Carlee Meek – complete-game win from the circle (5-hit, 8 K) –, the Eagles took to the road on Wednesday and barreled over hated-rival, Howell, 3-1, to raise another league championship banner. Meek added an RBI-base hit per her standard overall in-game brilliance.  Kelsey Johnson and Sierra Burke delivered an RBI apiece to account for Lakeland's other two runs. The win on Wednesday is the team's 30th of the campaign, making it five straight seasons the softball program at Lakeland has won 30 or more ball games.
A Southfield Surprise
In one of the better feel-good stories of the area's prep summer hoops circuit is emerging from an unlikely group of ballers hailing from the city of Southfield. The relatively-new Southfield Transition AAU team (16 and up) has been making a lot of noise in the first month or so of the off-season.  What's most interesting about the Transition is that the team is made up of a group of role players from various successful local high school squads. Unlike other traditional boys AAU powers like The Family, Team Detroit, or The Michigan Mustangs, which every year have rosters packed to the gills with high-D1 hoop talent, the Transition is comprised of a bunch of hard working, secondary-players, lunch pail-types who will probably be mid-major D1 recruits at best.
I'm talking about "intangible" guys like Carter Elliott of Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Spencer "The Big Easy" Parker from West Bloomfield, Marlin Mason, formerly at FH Harrison, now at Detroit Cass Tech and Xavier "The X-Man" Cross, Joshua Brown, and Landon "The High-Wire Squire" Atterberry of Southfield, among others. Besides Parker, not one of these players were their respective prep team's leading scorers last season. Yet, let us not overlook that Elliott was an integral part of the Yellowjackets Class B state title - playing a mean power forward next to All-American candidate, Amir Williams, and Cross, Brown, and Atterberry did a more than admirable job flanking all-staters Carlton Brundidge and Pee Wee Barnes to the Bluejays Class A Final Four back in March.
That's what makes this such an interesting group to follow –no true superstars, just bangers, bruisers, glue-guys, and sticky-handed defensive specialists. And the results so far have been extremely pleasing to the boys sporting the Transition's royal blue and yellow jerseys.
Out of four tournaments competed in so far this off-season, the Transition have taken home first place championship trophies twice, one in Saginaw in late-April and the other at Ferndale High School last weekend. The trophy garnered in the Eagles Nest on Sunday qualified this upstart group for Nationals. "The Big Easy" …er….Parker was awarded tourney MVP honors and Mason made the all-tournament team.
Quick side note – Wow, did Harrison lose out in a stud in Mason when he transferred to Cass Tech last summer. As Dick Vitale might say, this guy is a 'PTP'er" and "Awesome with a capital A, baby". Burney wonders if Mason would have bolted if Pete Mantyla – a disciple of NF's Tom Negoshian and a local OC sideline general on the rise – had been at the helm of the Hawks program at the time of his decision.
The Iceman Cometh
Farmington's very own "Cool Papa", senior P.J. Cooley (Hillsdale) is playing SO out of his mind the second half of the prep baseball season, Burney thinks he deserves another nickname. Okay, so here it is: From now on, Cooley should be referred to as "The Ice Man", because this kid simply as cool as ice every time he takes the hill for the Falcons (22-6). Cooley……er……."The Ice Man" was at it again on Wednesday, carrying his team to a hard-fought 4-2 victory on the road over a "nails-tough" Birmingham Seaholm squad with a 13-K outing, only allowing four hits.