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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of the Decade part 3 - Purple People Eaters

Oakland County's Best Boys Basketball Teams of the 2000s
No. 3
2002 Auburn Hills Avondale Yellow Jackets
This was a super fun team to watch play. The Yellow Jackets' chemistry was evident and they rode a balanced and energetic attack to a 25-3 record and the Class B state championship, the school's first ever on the hardwood.
Head coach Tim Morton had a vicious inside-outside tandem in 2002. Inside was all-state power forward Mike Lewis, who had a monster game in Avondale's 70-65 win over Grand Rapids South Christian in the state finals, posting a double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds. Outside was Morton's playmaking lead guard, Dionte Miller, who had 23 points in the state title tilt.
Small forward Jeremiah Handley and center Kevin McConnell filled out the 'Jackets formidable frontcourt and Wes Whiteside was a fine compliment to Miller in the backcourt and occupied the role as the team's defensive stopper. Coming off the bench that season was sophomore David Holston, one of the nation's leading scorers when he hit the college level at Chicago State in the late-2000s.
Avondale's most difficult hurdle to jump on its way to the crown came in the regional championship game at Flint Powers against Flint Southwestern. In front of a very hostile and pro-Southwestern crowd, the Yellow Jackets prevailed 75-72 in overtime and showed everyone in the state they were a team to be taken seriously. A week later, Morton, Lewis, Miller and co. were cutting down the nets at the Breslin Center.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of the Decade part 2 - Stinging Success

Oakland County's Best Boys Basketball Teams of the 2000s
No. 4
2007 Birmingham Detroit Country Day
Without a doubt, the '07 Yellowjackets Class B state title run was the best piece of coaching Country Day's Kurt Keener has done in his over three decades on the sidelines. Unlike his other seven state championship squads, this group was not favored to take the title and only finished the regular season with a very mortal 14-6 record. This was also Keener's only ring without the services of an NBA lottery pick (Chris Webber/Shane Battier) or potential NBA first rounder (Amir Williams/Ray McCallum). 
In the state finals, the Keener Kage Krew upset a 25-2 East Grand Rapids team, 66-61, following down-to-the-wire wins in the Elite Eight and Final Four. The '07 team was a well-balanced bunch that loved to share the rock and play team basketball. Keener's rotation was rock steady and contained a number of D1 athletes. Headlining the DCD attack were guards Darnell "D" Brown (Bowling Green), Clayton Beard (N.C. State) and Daryl Nobles (Ferris State). Brown, who was a junior, scored a game-high 22 points in the state championship game.
Sophomore Da' Shonte Riley (Syracuse), a 6-11 center, was a shot-blocking machine and made life miserable for opponents trying to get off shots in the paint. James Nelson (Davenport) was more than serviceable on the wing and overachieved on the glass by crashing the boards so hard. Senior football stud Jonas Gray (Notre Dame), junior guard Dale Brundidge (Wayne State) and sophomore sniper extraordinaire Jordan Dumars (Michigan) made up a solid core of reserves.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of the Decade part 1- Go Blue!

Oakland County's Best Boys Basketball Teams of the 2000s
NO. 5
This well-balanced Wolfpack team broke the program's 29-year Elite Eight curse and got the Blue and Gold to the Class A final four for the first time in head coach Dan Fife's career. Going 24-2, Clarkston beat league-rival Pontiac Northern for the regional title 42-35 and then Flint Northwestern in the quarterfinals 70-67. Playing a good first half in the semifinals against Kalamazoo Central, the Wolves ran out of gas in the second half, losing 58-44.
The '09 squad was fundamentally sound and exceptionally hard-nosed in its style of play. Leading the way for coach Fife's fireballers were a trio of D1 hoop kings in Brandon Pokley (Western Michigan), Matt Kamieniecki (Ball State) and Thomas Staton (Gardner-Webb).
Pokley goes down as one of the school's all-time best sharpshooters, had unlimited range and was quite Reggie Miller-like in his flair for the dramatic and hitting clutch last-minute daggers. Staton whose dad Tom starred as a prepster at Ferndale and then played at UofM, was a 6-foot-5 point guard that caused serious matchup problems for opposing defenses and routinely got into the paint in the half court set. Kamieniecki, only a junior, played a great inside-outside game and was the team's emotional leader. All three star players were long, rangy and athletic and set the tone for the rest of the team with their tenacious defense.
Augmenting Staton admirably in the Wolves backcourt were Tyler Scarlett, Brandon Verlinden and Luke Prudhomme, each consummate role players that almost always banged home the open shot and/or found the open man. Scarlett is currently playing football at Michigan Tech after leading C-Town to the football final four the following fall.

There is no doubt this was a special group, who found redemption for every team that came before it, going all the way back to the Tim McCormick era.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Change of Heart

I'll be honest, when I heard over the summer that all-conference shooting guard Juwaan Moody and his 20 points per night were leaving Pontiac and Moody was heading to a high school in Arizona to finish out his prep playing career, I was nervous for the wellbeing of the Phoenix boys hoops squad in 2011.
After watching Pontiac put a supreme hurting on a very good Detroit Henry Ford squad Monday afternoon at the Motor City Roundball Classic – a resounding 78-58 smack down delivered by the Phoenix –, I have re-evaluated my opinion. Pontiac is good. REAL GOOD!!!!
Head coach Robert Rogers might not have Moody anymore, nor any semblance of size in the post, but Pontiac's ultra-quick and ultra-aggressive five-guard starting lineup WILL WITHOUT A DOUBT be serious contenders for the OAA Red league crown and the program's umpteenthth consecutive Class A district title.
With the defeat of Henry Ford, the Phoenix raise their season record to 2-1.
Picking up the slack with Moody out of the lineup has been a senior-laden group of little big men. At the head of the pack is Anthony "The Ant" Adams, the Phoenix's two-time all-conference point guard. Adams, a pesky and lightning-fast playmaker, is averaging 25.5 point per game. On Monday, he torched the Henry Ford 'D' for 32 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Flanking Adams is crafty swingman Jamal Barr, who does not blow you away with his moves, however is as efficient as they come scoring the basketball. In Moody's absence, he's been and WILL CONTINUE to be the key. Against Henry Ford he demonstrated his economic style of play by going 8 of 14 from the field for 19-points and six rebounds, four of them being of the offensive variety. Barr, who transfered into the district last season after playing his sophomore and freshman seasons down in Georgia, reminds me of a prep Mark Auguire.....not flashy, just painfully effective. He was the Phoenix's third-leading scorer last year in his first season at THE HIGH, averaging 12 points per night. So far this season, he has upped that output to 16 points per game and is getting better each outing.
De Brian Lewis, Mario Burkett, Rasheem Ford and Jordan Chambers all have multiple varsity letters and make up a solid core of lead role players. Newcomers Royaire Churchill, Mark Hoover and Michael Williams, have each been pleasant surprises. Lewis (7 points, 7 boards) knocked down consecutive 5-foot leaners in the paint to jumpstart a 32-point fourth quarter on Monday against Henry Ford, which had just made what had been an 18-point deficit a 46-42 game heading down the stretch.
Like all the great teams in the history of Pontiac prep hoops, this bunch of 'Yaktown ballers can run the fastbreak like the old school Showtime L.A. Lakers. The Phoenix absolutely ran Henry Ford out of the gym Monday. And Henry Ford is as good, not to mention considerably more athletically-gifted than most of the teams they will face in the OAA this season. That is not a good sign for the Phoenix's opponents in the upcoming league-portion of the schedule.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hard Day At The Office

The first day of the 16th annual Motor City Roundball Classic was unkind to a pair of Oakland County boys hoop squads. Both West Bloomfield and Novi Detroit Catholic Central, each previously unbeaten on the young season, dropped their first ballgame of the campaign on Sunday evening in the yearly showcase event that brings together some of the best teams in the state and the nation for a weeklong slate of intriguing matchups.
West Bloomfield (2-1) lost to Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy 72-64, while Catholic Central (4-1) fell to Ypsilanti in a 48-46 low-scoring thriller. For the second straight year, the Roundball Classic is being hosted by Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
In West Bloomfield's defeat, senior forward Spencer Parker continued his torrid scoring streak by touching up the Chandler Park defense for a career-high 35 points to go along with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. A three-year varsity performer, Parker is averaging 26 points per game. He scored 25 of his 35 in the second half, where the Lakers got as close as two-possessions behind with less than two minutes left to play. His steal and breakaway lay-up made it 68-64 at the 1:57 mark of the fourth quarter.
Catholic Central's loss was gut-wrenching as the Shamrocks looked to have all the game's momentum heading down the stretch. Behind 28-17 at halftime and then falling behind by as many as 17 in the third quarter, Catholic Central, the consummate grind-it-out bunch of ballers for the past four years under head coach Bill Dyer, stayed true to its reputation and clawed its way back into the game.
Five fast points by the Shamrocks to end the third quarter sparked the rally. After Richard Katrick drained a long 3-pointer from the left elbow with 12.3 seconds remaining on the clock, Catholic Center forced a turnover and got a buzzer-beating 15-foot jumper from junior Matt Doneth to head to the huddle only down seven points, 39-32. Star junior forward Kyle Cooper converted on a slick baseline spin move and drive that made it 41-40 at the 3:46 mark of the fourth quarter.
Consecutive baskets by Ypsilanti (4-0) pushed its lead to 45-40, however the Shamrocks continued to bring pressure and roared back. Cooper's jumper from the foul-line made it 48-46 with 14.7 seconds left and after Chandler Park missed the front end of a one-and-one, Catholic Central got the ball back with a chance to tie with a two-point hoop or win it with a trifecta.
Doneth's jump shot from the corner right before the final horn sounded went in and out and the Shamrocks had the wind officially taken out of their sail. Leading Catholic Central in the scorebook was Cooper (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Doneth (14 points, 10 rebounds), who along with Brandon Tammaro, make up one of the most rugged frontcourts in the area.  Tammaro, verbally-committed to the University of Buffalo for football, pulled down six boards and contributed solid defense on an athletic Chandler Park post attack. Playing in his third varsity hoops campaign, Doneth is being recruited on both the hardwood and the gridiron, having emerged as one of the state's best tight end prospects this past football season.
Three more Oakland County teams suit up to play in the Roundball Classic Monday, as North Farmington faces Detroit Allen Academy at 11:00 AM, Troy Athens, coming off a colossal upset of Clarkston last week, tangles with defending Class C state champ, Melvindale ABT at 12:30 and Pontiac throws down with PSL stalwart Detroit Henry Ford at 2:00.
In girls bball action at the event, Waterford Kettering faces Warren Fitzgerald at 1:30 and Troy Athens plays Chandler Park in the nightcap at 8:20.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Burney Claus - Back on the Prowl

Burney's Christmas Giveaway
To FH Harrison's Tommy Vento – A D1 football scholarship
To Birmingham Seaholm's Shawn Conway – The ability to get his academic portfolio in order so he can fulfill his dream of playing football at the University of Michigan
To the Pontiac Hoops Faithful – A solid set of replacements to fill the void for departed all-conference guard Juwaan Moody (transferred to high school in AZ)
To TEAM NOGO over at North Farmington – The continued improvement of its talented youth brigade throughout the rest of the boys basketball season
To Southfield's Carlton Brundidge – a Class A state hoops crown to close out one of the most prolific prep careers this county has seen this decade
To Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes' Lauren Robak – One word: REPEAT!!!!!!
To Holly boys hoop coach Lance Baylis and TEAM HORSESHOE – An upset of Clarkston in the state tournament and the Bronchos first ever district trophy
To Birmingham Brother Rice's Jimmy Pickens – A state championship on the baseball diamond this spring to wrap up an outstanding high school athletic career


Friday, December 24, 2010

Tommy Terrific

Good news from the local recruiting front; it looks like Farmington Hills Harrison senior quarterback Tommy Vento is finally starting to garner some attention at the college level. Vento, who led the Hawks to a state record 13th state championship banner this past fall, had previously been being ignored by the big boys due to the fact that he did not win the team's starting job until his last year on the prep gridiron.
Word on the street is that Southern Illinois is hot on Vento's tail and several other mid-majors are trying to get in on the action too. It's understandable. TV tore it up this fall. I'm talking TOM BRADY, PEYTON MANNING tore it up. He threw for over 2800 yards and 31 touchdowns.
About the only thing I can add is…WHAT TOOK YOU GUYS SO LONG?
This kid is THE REAL DEAL. He might have been slow to slip into the starter's seat, but he has that rare "IT" factor that separates the best from the rest. Yes, he's small – only about 6-foot-1. However, Vento is a consummate gamer and someone that has the heart and intestinal fortitude to overcome some of his physical shortcomings.
Vento's recruiting situation reminds me of what went down last year with Novi Detroit CC fullback Niko Palazeti, who helped lead the Shamrocks to a state title with his rugged running style but because he lacked a typical college back's pedigree he was paid little attention by college recruiters prior to his team's run to the championship. For Palazeti, Michigan State came in at the last minute and gave him a scholarship. It was the smart thing to do. Mark my word, Palazeti is going to be the Big Ten's next great power back. Just like, I guarantee wherever Tommy Vento ends up, he'll wind up excelling at the next level as well.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Five For Fighting - M.I.P

OC Top 5 – Most Improved Boys Basketball Player
1 Jonathon Williams (Southfield-Lathrup) – The kid people call "Jon Jon" is the sole reason the Chargers have a chance to contend in the OAA Red this season. Williams, a sophomore, has quickly established himself as one of the top lead guards in the county by averaging 23 points, five assists and four steals per game
2 Christian Pino (Birmingham Seaholm) – The Maples junior floor general is a bona fide star now, adding a more accurate outside shot and finishing ability at the rack to his game over the summer.
3 Adam Zavadil (Birmingham DCD) – Could be the most fundamentally sound player in the area. He has developed a nearly unstoppable pull-up jumper and added three inches and 20 pounds to his frame, since last season when he was a role player on the 'Jackets state title squad. As a result, he has catapulted himself to the team's No. 2 leading scorer.

4 (tie)Jordan Guinn-Anthony Rice (Ferndale) - this suddenly electrifying tandem has the Eagles as frontrunners in the OAA White, after losing the majority of their OAA Blue title squad from last winter

4 (tie) Corey Lucas (OL St. Mary's)
– The Eaglet's football star has come out of nowhere to become a top scoring threat on the hardwood, whether attacking the basket or bombing away from the outside. Shouldn't really be that surprising though, being that's he's Kalin Lucas' first cousin and all.
5 Nick Stoll (Holly) – This Bronchos big fella gives head coach Lance Baylis a tough as nails presence in the post. Stoll has done a great job replacing two-time all-league forward Lance Hopkin as the team's "go-to guy" on the block.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Party at The Rim

Rebounds were all around Tuesday night in Troy at the Athens High School boys basketball game. Not only did the Red Hawks rebound big time from a dismal 0-3 start to pull the upset over state power Clarkston, 41-40, Athens was all over the glass, outrebounding its opponents by more than a dozen boards.
All-conference senior power forward Jake Duzey led the Red Hawks' offensive attack with 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
Reserve junior guard Aaron Fox knocked down a triple in the game's final minute to put Athens up for good, 41-38.
Caleb McIntosh and Jolly Grewell augmented Duzey in the post admirably, pulling down eight rebounds apiece.
Tuesday's Red Hawks victory was the first ever for the team over perennial big brother Clarkston, which falls to 1-2 on the season.
Duzey, a standout tight end in the fall, is headed to play football in college in the Big Ten Conference at the University of Iowa. Last season, he averaged a double-double.
Since opening the season with a win over Orchard Lake St. Mary's, the Wolves have dropped two straight. Clarkston was led by junior sniper Nick Tatu, who showed off his long-distance shooting skills by sinking six trifectas on his way to a game-high 22 points. As a sophomore last year, Tatu was a starter on the Wolves district title squad.
Clinging to a one-point lead on the game's final possession, Athens got a huge defensive stop to clinch the win. When a Clarkston missed a foul-line extended jumper at the horn, the Red Hawks and their fans celebrated ecstatically.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cage Stampede

The point guard gene runs in the Fugate family. First, older brother Mike showed it off as a three-year starter and all-conference floor general at Lakeland. Now, younger brother Josh Fugate is flashing the family's hoop prowess in his second year with the Holly Bronchos.
Scoring a career-high 26 points, Fugate spearheaded Holly to a 52-30 win over Clio on Monday night at the Horseshoe, the Bronchos' home floor. Fugate, a three-year varsity performer who played his sophomore season with his brother at Lakeland, is averaging 22 points per game. Entering Monday's affair against Clio, he had scored 23 points on back-to-back occasions to lead the Bronchos to victories.
Holly, coming of the best pair of seasons in school history, lifts its record to 4-0 overall on the young season. Starting center Nick Stoll patrolled the post for the Bronchos with the authority, scoring seven points, grabbing eight boards and blocking five shots. Senior guard Anderius Gray was a sparkplug off the bench, spelling Fugate at the point with six point and five steals. This past fall Gray was an all-conference running back on a Bronchos football squad that qualified for the playoffs for only the second time in school history.
Mike Fugate is tearing up the GLIAC as a lead guard with the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals. The sophomore sensation is averaging 16 points per game (10th in the conference) and went for career-highs of 27 and 30 points respectively in recent games.
The Bronchos will be one of the favorites to win the Flint Metro League title this season and next hit the floor January 4 against state juggernaut Birmingham Detroit Country Day on the road. The January matchup with the Yellowjackets is the team's only showdown with a fellow Oakland County squad. Although head coach Lance Baylis and his Holly hoop kings don't square off with county teams often, local fans might get a treat in the state tournament with the Bronchos and Clarkston sharing a district up in Fenton in March.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Burney's Boys Basketball Rankings - Holiday Hoedown

OC TOP 25 – Boys Hoops
1 Birmingham Detroit DCD – Locked and loaded for another championship run
2 Southfield – Senior big fella David Dawson is poised for a breakout year for the 'Jays (he scored 18 points and pulled down 12 boards in the team's 78-70 win at Romulus last week)
3 (tie) Novi Detroit CC – KYLE COOPER=AWESOME w/ a CAPITAL A
3 (tie) Novi - Chris Millon is worth a MILLION BUCKS for Wildcats!!! Just pencil CM in for 10 boards and a couple rim-rattling slams per game

4 Pontiac – Anthony "The Ant" Adams, one of the toughest point guards in the state….ENOUGH SAID!
5 Clarkston – I can HARDLY wait to see more of Wolves senior center MARCUS HARDY….Hardy and Max Collins will make up a rock solid tandem in the post for Coach Fife and the C-Town NATION this season
6 AH Avondale – Tony Harris and Ray Tillman are SUPERBAD in the backcourt for the Yellow Jackets, but it will be role players like DuJuan Radcliff, Darius Hall, Ryan Brancheau and A.J. Susick will be the reason the Purple and Gold rebound from a less than satisfying campaign last year
7 North Farmington – The Raiders are young and raw this season, but have the potential to be very, very good. It will be scary to see how good this team will be by the end of its schedule. Senior center Urbane Bingham is arguably the county's best big man outside of his former teammate Amir Williams over at Country Day
8 Ferndale – You can't stop the Eagles Jordan Guinn, you can only hope to contain him!!!
9 Troy (tie) – If I had a prep fantasy hoops team, I would select the Colts John Stibbich as my featured 3-point specialist. This kid can fill'em up from downtown like few others in the county
9 (tie) West Bloomfield – Spencer Parker is just SO MONEY, his middle name could be "CASH FLOW"
10 (tie) Birmingham Brother Rice – Warriors star player Joey Alessi gets an 'A' for being AUTOMATIC!
10 (tie) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep – Kellen McCormick, Danny Dulapa and Joey De Martis are a formidable trifecta for the Fighting Irish and they will make certain NDP is competing for a shot at winning a CHSL title down at Calihan Hall in March

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Five For Fighting - New Kids on The Block

OC TOP 5 – Burney's Favorite New Boys Hoops Coaches
1 Jeff Borja (AH Avondale) – This Macomb County transplant is going to have a big year!!
2 Jeremy Denha (West Bloomfield) – I love what Denha is doing with the Lake Show and star player Spencer "The Big Easy" Parker so far this season after coming over from Berkley...good things are on the horizon
3 David McGlown (Berkley) – One of the top young basketball minds in the area and a super choice by the Bears AD to replace Denha
4 Duane Graves (BH Lahser) – I think the Knights got it right by choosing Graves, a former prep star at Lake Orion in the early-1990s, to head the boys hoops program (LOTS of young talent in the mix for Graves and his stellar staff!)
5 Steve Norgrove (Stoney Creek) – Did a great job at Farmington, will continue to the same with the Cougars

Friday, December 17, 2010

Award Season

Don't look now, but Oakland County has a solid chance at bringing home both the Mr. and Miss Basketball Awards at the end of the current prep hoops season in March.
For the boys, Southfield's Carlton Brundidge (Michigan) and Birmingham DCD's Amir Williams (Ohio State) are frontrunners for the coveted trophy, as both of looked outstanding in their first few games on the schedule.
For the girls, WOLL's Lauren Robak (Oakland U) of the defending Class D state champ Lakers could be the odds-on favorite as we head into the New Year.
Despite playing at a small school, Robak is still arguably one of the Top 5 players in the state regardless of class size. Last night, she dropped 29 points in a Lakers 69-49 defeat of Adrian Lenewee Christian, the same team they beat in the state finals last year.
Williams, who like Robak helped lead his team to a state title last season as a junior, has posted double-doubles in all three of the Yellow Jackets first three games.
Brundidge, possibly the hardest working superstar in the state, opened the season by putting up 41 points in a Blue Jays' win over Mt. Clemens and then followed that up by coming up huge in their game against fellow state power Romulus on the road earlier this week. Playing in a hostile environment, Brundidge led Southfield to an impressive 78-70 victory, by dominating the game and scoring 29 points, dishing off eight assists and hauling down eight rebounds. When Romulus, pulled to within a single-point midway through the fourth quarter, the Blue Jays star responded by completing a three-point play at the other end, effectively quelling his opponent's rally
BURNEY's SLEEPER SPECIAL - Local players who could wind up coming out of nowhere to contend for the award.

Girls - Halle Wangler (RO Shrine)

a strong safety playing girls basketball!

Boys - Spencer Parker (West Bloomfield)

"The Big Easy" is super SMOOTH, per usual, this year (26 pts, 12 reb) in OT win over Rochester Thursday night

Last Mr Basketball Award winner from Oakland County - Paul Davis (Rochester 2002)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On The Chin

If North Farmington is Superman, then Melvindale ABT senior guard Marcell Smith is a huge chunk of Kryptonite. Smith sank a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of the Gators 61-58 come from behind victory over the host Raiders on Wednesday night, making it two straight years that he has driven a last-second dagger through the hearts of what looked to be an almost-certain North Farmington win.
Before his heroics, Smith, a starter on ABT's Class C state title squad, had only scored five points. Senior center Urbane Bingham put in a game-high 26 points to go along with 14 rebounds to lead the Raiders, who fall to 2-1 on the year. Bingham's bucket in the paint with 25 seconds remaining in the game tied things up at 58-58. His turnaround jumper a minute earlier had provided North Farmington its final advantage on the scoreboard.
"That same kid did the same thing to us last season," said Raiders head coach, Tom Negeoshian. "We like these kind of games early in the schedule, they toughen you up for down the stretch." Negoeshian is three wins away from the 300-mark for his career at North Farmington.
In an early-season game last winter, Smith hit a runner in the lane at the buzzer to defeat the eventual district champion Raiders, who had just hit what looked to be a game-winner on the other end with under five seconds left. Anthony Lairy anchored the Gators in the scoring column with 19 points.
Holding a 27-24 lead at halftime, the Raider's fell behind 43-41 heading into the fourth quarter. Showing off his talented youth brigade, Negeoshian's troops quickly clawed their way back on top. Junior forward Dorrell Foster's offensive rebound and put-back hoop tied the game at 43 and was immediately followed by sophomore point guard Caleb Hogans' finger roll and a basket by Bingham.
Foster, the nephew of former NBA first round draft pick Carlos Rogers (Detroit Northwestern), finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Hogans (8 points, 4 asst) and Foster were the JV team's leading scorers last season. On Friday night against crosstown rival Farmington, Hogans pumped in a career-high 23 points.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Diamond in the Rough

Madison Heights Madison basketball star Damon Bozeman is a true hidden treasure. If you're unaware of his cage resume it's understandable. Bozeman's name didn't dot a ton of pre-season Top 25 lists this year, but if you believe your boy Burney, it certainly should have.
The 6-foot-3 junior is a gem of a player. He plays inside and out and is one of the hardest working kids around. His game is thrifty – he does a lot of different things for a coach out there and scores bunches of buckets without taking boatloads of shots – and has an innate toughness and edge to it that makes him a rare combination grit and finesse. Last season as a junior, he recorded double-doubles in 13 straight ballgames on his way to averaging 14 points and eight boards per game.
Over the summer, Bozeman went back to work on his game, realizing that if he wanted to be recruited at the college level he needed to remake himself as a guard. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED; He looked superb in showcase camps and on the AAU circuit during the offseason, displaying his well-honed perimeter touch and lockdown defensive ability. For college coaches reading this, think former NBA'er and Bad Boy Piston VINNIE JOHNSON, arguably the best rebounding guard of his era.
In the Eagles opener, Bozeman got loose for 19 points, nine boards, three blocks and four assists sparking his team to a 66-39 thumping of intra-city rival Madison Heights Lamphere.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In The Zone

Auburn Hills Avondale senior shooting guard Andrea Strauss hit the zone over the weekend, shooting the lights out for the Lady Yellowjacket hoopsters in their home game against East Lansing on Saturday, propelling them to a 55-52 victory.
Strauss, a sniper specialist from beyond the arc, drained 5-of-6 3-pointers in the second half, leading Avondale back from a 14-point deficit in the early fourth quarter. The three-year varsity starter finished with a game-high 18 points, to go along with eight rebounds and six assists. Off the hardwood, Strauss is also a multi-time all-league performer in both volleyball and soccer. So far this season she is shooting near the 50% mark from downtown.
The Yellowjackets (3-1) have now won three straight ballgames after dropping their first game of the schedule on the road to an undefeated Waterford Kettering squad.
Last year, head coach David Muczynski's Lady 'Jackets won the OAA white crown, concluding the campaign 14-7.
Muczynski, who also serves as the school's varsity soccer coach for boys and girls, got an array of complimentary performances to augment Strauss' late-game heroics. Junior center Hannah Little had 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and three steals and held Trojans' all-state star player, Deborah Hoeskstra (Bowling  Green), to 14 points, a good seven points under her average. Forward Courtney Williams chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds and point guard Loreal Farris scored seven points and dished off three assists.
Avondale is set to host West Bloomfield, a team that contains a pair of former Yellowjackets players, including two-time all-conference selection Jaiyln Hamilton, on Tuesday night for its next game.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Making a Statement

The Birmingham Detroit Country Day boys basketball team made a huge statement on Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd in its home gymnasium. Playing without starting point guard Chris Fowler, the Yellow Jackets put forth a near flawless effort in dispatching fellow perennial hoops powerhouse Saginaw 98-81 and with it told the entire state they could wind up being better than last year's state title squad.
Displaying its depth and prolific long-distance marksmanship, Country Day expanded on a 10-point halftime lead by erupting for 44 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half to claim stake to a commanding 25-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Yellow Jackets banged home 11 3-pointers and got scoring contributions from 11 players. Four Country Day players reached double-figures, led by all-state senior center Amir Williams (Ohio State), who put up 24 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Fellow seniors Adam Zavadil and Lee Bailey (9 asst) scored 17 and 10 points respectively and freshman Maury Diane helped significantly filling the void left by Fowler in the backcourt by pumping in 14 points off the bench, to go along with four assists and three steals.  
Fowler – out with an ankle injury suffered in a late preseason scrimmage – is expected back at full capacity by the end of the month.
Saginaw got a game-high 31 points from all-state senior swingman Tommie McCune, inked to play his college ball for Bob Huggins at West Virginia starting next year.
The impressive victory improves the Yellow Jackets overall record to 2-0. In the team's opening-night win on the road at Southfield-Lathrup, Country Day drained 14 3-point shots. 
Head coach Kurt Keener is seeking his and the program's ninth state championship this year, coming off a season where the 'Jackets  went 26-2 and romped to the Class B state crown by winning their eight state tournament games by a 23-point average margin of victory . Keener's talented bunch gets back to work on Tuesday when it faces Ann Arbor Pioneer at home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Under The Radar

Not a lot of prep pundits from around the area are talking about the Berkley Bears as a team to watch with the boys basketball season getting off and running this week. Burney, on the other hand, really likes the 2010-2011 Bears squad and is telling anybody that will listen that these guys are going to make some noise this year in the OAA.
Despite being firmly under the radar to the general public, first-year Berkley head coach David McGlown has inherited quite a talented bunch of ballers. Everything with the Bears starts with their formidable 1-2 scoring punch made up of Ryan Bush and Justin Peguese, a pair of rangy wings who can hurt you inside and out. Setting the tempo and running the point is Emory Mobley and keeping defenses honest with his deadeye marksmanship from beyond the arc is senior sniper Connor Reid.  Football stars Terrell Porter, Damon Eldridge and Jason Taylor, coming off back-to-back record-breaking campaigns on the gridiron, provide McGlown energy, athleticism and a winner's mentality.
The Bears are going to be battling it out in the OAA White this year with a stellar cast of other top contenders like AH Avondale, RH Adams, Stoney Creek, Lake Orion, Troy, Ferndale, and Birmingham Seaholm. This conference race is as wide open as any in the state. Nobody has picked Berkley to finish in the top half of the White, yet I think the Bears have a good chance of competing for the crown.
Burney's argument in favor of Berkley got a hefty boost on Tuesday night when McGlown got the first win of his career by leading the Bears to an 82-56 trouncing of Troy Athens. Led by Bush's 26 points and eight rebounds and Peguese's 17 points and 11 boards, the effort definitely made a statement.
McGlown was a nice find by the Berkley AD to fill the Bears coaching slot left vacant when Jeremy Denha departed to take the West Bloomfield job this past summer. The program's JV head coach and an assistant to Denha last season, McGlown has a solid hoops resume. As a high school floor general at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, he took the Fighting Irish to the elite eight when he was a senior in 1998, before having a cup of coffee at the D1 level with the Southern Illinois Salukis of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What I Like About You

Things Burney liked to see in the first few days of the new prep boys basketball season:
The performance of North Farmington JV call-ups Dorrell Foster (20 pts 13 reb), Caleb Hogans (fast improving tempo-setter at the point) and Sterling Sharp (roof-raising slam dunk in first quarter) in the Raiders season-opening defeat of a tenacious River Rouge squad….the future is bright for TEAM NOGO!!
West Bloomfield's very own "Big Easy" aka Spencer Parker GETTING SUPER BUSY, dropping a 22 point, 13 board, 5 dime outing in the Lakers' opening night win over Canton….Burney thinks there is a very good chance that Parker becomes the WB's first D1 player since David Merritt (Michigan)
DCD's long-distance assault, connecting on 14 trifectas in its 83-54 beatdown of S-Lathrup….WOW!! Bombs away, BOYZ!!
How hard head coach Tom Staton's Ferndale team played while breaking in a brand new and inexperienced lineup against Waterford Mott in its opener. The Eagles, sparked by the surprisingly dynamic tandem of seniors Anthony Rice (19 pts, 6 asst, 11 steals) and Jordan Guinn (22 pts 5 Reb), rallied back from a 9-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation to win 76-70 in OT
Birmingham Seaholm's Shawn Conway showing a great deal of resilience, bouncing back from the news that he won't be academically eligible to play football at UofM next fall by punishing crosstown-foe Groves. The Maples "Big Pun" torched the Falcons for 27 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks in Seaholm's 57-47 road win
BH Lahser getting the season started with a win for the Knights new coaching staff…Watch out for B.J. Lavallis this season – he's going be running the point this year and acting as the team's overall accelerator on offense and defense. B.J. went for seven points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in the Knights 54-31 defeat of MC Cardinal Mooney, a squad that made a run all the way into the Class D state finals last year.
Waterford Mott's Chris "RIP CITY" Dewberry doing his best RIP Hamilton impression, lighting up Ferndale for 27 points, in a narrow loss for the Corsairs on opening night (Dewberry's teammate Davonte Daniel looked pretty NBA-like too, notching a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds) 

Southfield's Carlton Brundidge going all CARLTON BRUNDIDGE in the 'Jays season-opening thwarting of Mt. Clemens, busting off 41 points in the 'w'. CAPTAIN AMAZING to the rescue once again!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Burney's Boys Basketball Rankings - Lets Get it Started

OC Top 10 – Boys Basketball Teams
1 Birmingham DCD – One word=REPEAT…okay, now I'll throw out a few more; Amir Williams is as dominant a post presence the area has seen in at least a dozen years, transfers the Price brothers are as their name might indicate PRICELESS and Adam Zavadil is a prep version of former NBA Euro stud Toni Kukoc.
2 Southfield – Everyone knows about the "Big Three" of Brundidge, Barnes and Onwenu, but it will be the supporting cast with guys like sensational soph Earl Swift and senior stalwarts Joshua Brown, David Dawson and Xavier Cross, leading the way that will get the Blue Jays back to Breslin this year
3 Clarkston – The Wolves might not have an outright star like they usually do, however this team will be a classic Dan Fife ensemble of hardworkers and sharpshooters that will certainly contend for another league crown
4 Pontiac – Per S.O.P., Speed, Speed and more speed best describes the Phoenix. Ant Adams is a genuine prep superstar and Jamal Barr will be a more than reliable No. 2 option after a high quality, yet under the radar season last year as a junior
5 Novi Detroit CC – Bill Dwyer is a master motivator and the lumps this group took last season will pay major dividends this year. Shea Kettner and Kyle Cooper are STARS who don't get enough pub!
6 Novi – The Wildcats frontcourt of Samier Ozier and Chris Millon is AWESOME with a capital A!!!!
7 OL St. Mary's – Big rebound year in store for the Eaglets this winter behind the senior trio of Allen Robinson, Shaun Covington and Darrell Freeman…expect to see solid contributions from Danny Furlong, Joe Eroyan and transfer Justin Barrows (AH Oakland Christian)as well
8 AH Avondale – Ray Tillman and Tony Harris will automatically make the 'Jackets and their new coach frontrunners for a shot at their second league title in the last three years
9 Troy – Lots of weapons dot the Colts roster this year, starting with "The Chosen One" himself James Young, one of the top sophomore prep hoop talents in the entire Midwest. Junior floor general Evan Mahone and senior sniper John Stibbich make up a deadly-accurate tandem of outside shooters
10 (tie) Birmingham Brother Rice – Experience is the name of the game for the Warriors in 2010-2011 since head coach Ed Schaffer brings back a good chunk of his roster from last season that claimed a district title. Things for Rice all start with Adam Gorksi, who is a top-tier pacesetting point guard, and Joey Alessi, a tough as nails guard/forward who will take on lead scoring duties for the squad with the departure of Kevonte Martin-Manley. Adam Holinski is one of the hardest working forwards around and junior Devin Church should gives teams fits with his defensive skills
10 (tie) North Farmington – Urbane Bingham is in for a HUGE year, as is Dorrell Foster, a lanky and athletic wing who will start getting looks from college scouts very soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Burney's Top 25 OC Boys Hoopsters

2010-2011 OC Top 25 Players
1 Amir Williams (Birmingham DCD) - one of the finest post prospects the area has seen in quite some time
2 Carlton Brundidge (Southfield) - defines the word WARRIOR...Bulldog-tough, will be a Khalid El-Amin-type in college at UofM
3 James Young (Troy) - "The Chosen One" aka BEST SOPH IN THE STATE....High D-1 talent
4 Samier Ozier (Novi) - "The Big Sham Wow" is the most dangerous inside-outside threat in Oakland County
5 Shawn Conway (Birmingham Seaholm) - A human DOUBLE-DOUBLE...will average 25 ppg, 12 rpg and at least two SPORTSCENTER-esque slam dunks!
6 "Pee Wee" Barnes-Patrick Onwenu (Southfield) - Together with Brundidge, S'field's "Big Three" give the 'Jays a chance at the state crown in March. Pee Wee is the pace-setting point guard, while Onwenu is an athletic and active presence in the paint
7 Anthony "Ant" Adams (Pontiac) - The consummate floor general....Ant will have to take on more of a scoring load w/ former runningmate Juwaan Moody moving out of the state and to another high school in AZ with his family
8 Urbane Bingham (North Farmington) - Making huge strides under TEAM NEGOSHIAN over at NF, will be arguably the top big fella in the OAA......Urb has added some grit and grime to his game and is becoming more of a vocal leader on the floor.  Don't leave him open from outside either, 'cause he can bang'em home from downtown like his name was Todd!
9 Joe Baker (Ferndale) - "The Show" will be landing on the court for the Eagles in January and he will no doubt light up the scoreboard in the OAA like he did last year in the MAC
10 a Chris Fowler-Lee Bailey (Birmingham DCD) - It's a pretty good life for 'Jackets head coach Kurt Keener, he loses all-state point guard Ray McCallum to graduation and he has two D1-caliber guards left in the artillery to replace him...Bailey is a workhorse of a combo-guard, while Fowler,coming off a season-ending knee injury midseason last year, is poised for a breakout campaign as the team's floor leader
10 b Ray Tillman-Tony Harris (AH Avondale) - "Sugar Ray" Tillman and Tony "The Truth" Harris makeup one of the best backcourts in all of Metro Detroit...In Burney's humble opinion, the are in the same class as CB and Pee Wee at S'field and Fowler and Bailey at Country Day
11 Allen Robinson (OLSM)
12 Jake Duzey (Troy Athens)
13 Taylor Perry (Rochester)
14 Dakota Ogles (Hazel Park)
15 a Chris Dewberry (Waterford Mott)
15 b Kellen McCormick (Pontiac Notre Dame Prep)
16 Andrew Hammett (RH Adams)
17 Spencer Parker (West Bloomfield)
18 Damon Bozeman (MH Madison)
19 Jordan Walker (MH Bishop Foley)
20 Kyle Cooper-Shea Kettner (Novi Detroit CC)
21 Joey Alessi (Birmingham Brother Rice)
22 Josh Fugate (Holly)
23 Marcus Hardy (Clarkston)
24 Adam Gorski-Adam Holinski (Birmingham Brother Rice)
25 Sterling Morrow (BH Cranbrook)
Newcomer to watch - Corey Green (MH Bishop Foley)
Freshman to watch - Maceo Baston, Jr (Troy); Maury Diane (Birmingham DCD)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back At It Again

The Farmington Falcons varsity hockey team has repeat on the brain early this season. Repeat as in winning back-to-back OAA league titles and putting together another long run in the state tournament come March.
Skating with fervor and confidence, Farmington has been razor sharp out of the gate. Heading into Thursday's game against Clarkston at the Detroit Skate Club, the Falcons are a perfect 6-0, coming off a 9-1 thrashing of Birmingham Unified last week.
Offensively, the squad is being ignited by seniors Kyle Rea and Nick Elliott. Rea has a team-leading seven goals through six games. Elliott, a senior co-captain, registered a hat trick last week in the Unified game and is tied with a team-leading seven assists alongside junior forward Zach Massa. Fellow senior co-captain Alex Schmidt has four goals and three assists on the year so far. Ethan Baker, another senior forward has four goals – two against Unified last Thursday – and five assists.
Rob Goldi, making his first appearance in a Falcons uniform this season after playing travel hockey the past few years, leads the team's defense.
Tim Rogers, who had a game-high 25 saves against Unified, is the squad's top netminder.  
The Farmington program is headed by Mark Vellucci, one of the brightest young minds in the local prep hockey scene. In 2008, Vellucci took the Falcons to the Class A final four. Last season they won the conference championships and advanced into the state quarterfinals before bowing to eventual state champion, Trenton.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Five For Fighting - Eager with Anticipation

OC Top 5 - Things I'm most eager to see this upcoming boys basketball season:
Promising junior big fella Brad Watterworth suiting up at Lake Orion, sure to follow in the footsteps of his sister Bethany as a hoops star for the Dragons
Coach Borja taking over as the new coach at AH Avondale
Either Shawn Conway (Seaholm) or Jake Duzey (Troy Athens) going all KEVIN LOVE and putting up a single-game effort of 30-points and 30 boards
Coming off a strong finish to the 2009-2010 season, senior guard Alex Jones taking over as Stoney Creek's number one scoring option this year
Shaun Covington, OL St. Mary's senior floor general, having a breakout winter, feeding teammate Allen Robinson for at least five dimes a game

Friday, December 3, 2010

Training Camp Report - Shrine's Time To Shine

The boys basketball team at Royal Oak Shrine has a lot going for itself this season. The Knights are a deep team, with lots of good shooters, experience and speed.
"This is a high-energy group," said Shrine head coach Mike Massucci. "Our depth and perimeter game are going to give teams problems."
Massucci, entering his 16th year at the helm, expects an exciting campaign in the Knights quest for their first conference crown since 2004 and their first district banner since 2003.
"We're going to be a fun team to watch because we're going to play all 94 feet and force the action up-tempo whenever possible," he said. " I don't know if we had the personnel to do that the last couple years. This team is going to press and run the break at every opportunity."
Shrine is led into battle by the standout backcourt of seniors Bertram Marks and Blake Washington, both entering their third year in a starting role for the Knights. Marks and Washington each have a knack for scoring the basketball in bunches and are excellent defenders.
The Wangler brothers, sophomore Jack and freshman Jared, will both dot the starting lineup as well. Jack is a rugged rebounding forward with a sweet stroke from downtown, while according to Massucci, Jared is, "the best shooter the program's seen in quite a long time."
The team's post game will be anchored by senior center Joe Oldani, someone Massucci calls a "gritty rebounder who will hit the open jumper if you leave him open."
Coming off the bench for the Knights this season will be a series of talented reserves, providing Massucci more depth than he's had at his disposal in recent years. Juniors Lorenzo Dewberry and Jared Terrill will be sparkplug guys that more than adequately spell Marks and Washington. Sophomore sharpshooter Connor Francek will join the varsity this season after leading the Knights JV last year in 3-point accuracy. Francek, who will start at quarterback for the school's football team next fall after coming in late this past season in a back-up capacity and leading the Knights to a first-round playoff win, will join the Wangler boys as the squad's most reliable outside marksmen.
Last year Shrine posted a 10-12 overall record and Massucci feels with a good core returning this season improvement on that mark is probable.
"We'll be more well-balanced this year and hopefully that will translate to more wins," he said. "There's going to be an infusion of youth onto this team that's going to benefit us greatly and when you combine that with the solid group of veterans we already have coming back, I think we can be really good."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Training Camp Report - Back For More

There will be little to no drop-off in play when defending boys state hoop champion, Birmingham Detroit Country Day hits the floor on Tuesday night against Southfield-Lathrup in its season opener. The Yellowjackets return a bulk of their line-up from last season when they went 26-2 and claimed the school's eighth state title banner in dominating fashion, winning their seven tournament games by an average margin of victory of 21.5 points per contest.
All-American point guard Ray McCallum, Jr. may be gone, playing down the road for his dad in college at UofD-Mercy, but Country Day remains stacked to the gills with talent and will once again be the team to beat this season in Class B. Head coach Kurt Keener, the man personally responsible for turning the Yellowjackets into one of the state's true glamor programs over the past two decades, doesn't expect his team to miss much of a step when it gets back to work next week.
"The expectations will be high, as usual and as they should be," he said. "There's lots of experience with this group and we have the chance to be really good again if we stay focused. They've had a lot of success and by the way they've been playing since we started practice a few weeks ago, they're still hungry. That's a good sign."
Headlining the attack for Country Day this year will be 6-foot-11 all-state senior center Amir Williams, ranked as the second best prep post prospect in the nation by ESPN and signed to play his college ball at Ohio State. Williams averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks per game last year in his first season as a starter and reigned terror down upon opponents with his variety of steadily-improving moves in the paint.
Replacing McCallum, Jr. as the team's floor general will be senior Chris Fowler, the Yellowjackets second-leading scorer through the first half of last season before getting sidelined with a year-ending knee injury. Fowler is a playmaker and will act as the team's vocal leader.
Lee Bailey, Adam Zavadil and Mahesh Umansankar all return in the backcourt and will flank Fowler on the wings. Bailey is an ace defender with a nose for the basket who, like Williams and Fowler, will be entering his third year on the varsity. Umansankar is a superior marksman from long distance and will keep teams honest, preventing them from double-teaming Williams too much with his frequent red hot shooting streaks. Zavadil, a transfer from the Czech Republic last season is a jack-of-all-trades type with outstanding fundamentals who broke into the line-up late in last year's tourney run and has improved greatly in the offseason.
The forward spots will be manned by returnees Kenny Knight and Carter Elliott and newcomers Jodan and Austin Price, a pair of lanky and athletic transfers from Indianapolis. Knight is a rangy swingman who often doubles as a human pogo stick and similar to Bailey is a standout defensive specialist. Elliott is a lunch pail forward who loves to bang and will augment Williams nicely on the block.  
Expect fab frosh, Maury Diane (pronounced DEE-AHNEE) to see spot minutes early on as he gets his feet wet at the varsity level. Diane is a 6-3 wing who has been wowing coaches and scouts alike the past few summers on the AAU circuit with an array of explosive outings on the national stage.
Keener likes his team's versatility
"I think we'll be able to work a real classic inside-outside game between Amir and the guards because they can all shoot the lights out," he said. "Our defense is very sound and these guys all know how to win, so it should be a fun year."