Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HOOPS: Saginaw vs. Arthur Hill

**Jimmy Davis throws up a runner in the paint**
**Pookie slashes into the lane**
**Greg Hayes throws up a floater**
**Mike Schaaf throws down a 1st quarter dunk**
**Tommie McCune makes a move towards the basket**
**Freshman Jordan Hare**
**Mike Green aggressively attempts a lay-up**

Saginaw- Saginaw High traveled west to Arthur Hill for "round 1" of the schools annual three game series rivalry, and after watching the two teams duke it out for four quarters it's no wonder that the last three Class A State Champions have played in this game. For four quarters both teams exchanged punch for punch, but time ran out on the Lumberjacks before they could counter back and deliver one last punch to send the game into overtime, allowing the High to give the Hill their first lost of the season with a 83-81 decision.

It was a see-saw battle from the opening tip as the sold out crowd fueled both teams with an enormous amount of energy. Dunks from Chris Webb and Mike Schaaf helped Arthur Hill take an early 8-2 lead and a 22-19 lead going into the second quarter.

Arthur Hill's lead built to 29-19 in the second quarter as Maurice "Pookie" Jones took it right at the Trojan's press and constantly found Schaaf open under the basket for easy buckets. But then Saginaw's Jimmy Davis got hot and knocked down two 3-pointers and a break away two handed slam from Greg Hayes cut the lead to 31-28. The High took their first lead of the game, 32-31, on Tommie McCune's 18 foot jumper and built a five point lead on baskets from Demetrius Simmons and Mike Green, while Pookie's 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the Trojan lead to 39-38 at the half.

The third quarter turned into a 3-point contest as the two teams combined for 10 straight 3-pointers. In a 15 second span of the third quarter Davis, Pookie, and Hayes all connected on long 3-pointers as the two teams went back and forth. In the midst of the hectic play Saginaw built a double digit lead but another 3-pointer from Pookie cut Saginaw's lead to 62-56 heading into the final quarter.

Five straight points from Pookie cut the Trojan lead to 68-66 but then McCune stopped the Lumberjack rally with a monsterous slam right over Schaaf. But Pookie just wouldn't let his team go away and the 5-7 guard knocked down another 3-pointer that was followed up by a bucket from Webb that tied the game at 72-72 with 3:41 to play.

Arthur Hill took a 81-76 lead with a Webb 3-pointer and Pookie's kiss off the glass with 1:26 to play. A Davis 3-pointer for Saginaw made the score 81-79; and then the Lumberjacks turned the ball over twice in the final minute of the game which led to two mid-range jumpers from Green, one to tie the game and the other to take a 83-81 lead with 11 seconds to play.

Arthur Hill pushed the ball up the court but Pookie's fade away 3-pointer just rimmed off however Jalen Bland was there for a tip back that appeared to have sent the game into overtime, until one official ran over and waved the basket off saying the clock had expired.

BREAKDOWN: This game deserved overtime! I don't know if anyone in the gym can honestly say they were looking at the clock when it expired. These two teams fought and laid it on the line for four quarters and the refs shouldn't have decided the game, they should have let the players play it out in OT.

This was one of the better high school games I have seen in a while, I could have watched these teams fight all night long. Each team had a number of players that stood up and made plays. But as good as this game was it really didn't mean a thing except for bragging rights since it was a non-league game. These teams will meet up in conference play in two weeks, and then again in districts.

PLAYER OF GAME: Jimmy Davis, High- Davis knocked down seven 3-pointers on his way to a 30 point performance. But it wasn't just the scoring that made Davis the player of the game. This game is so intense that most young players aren't ready to play in this kind of atmosphere but Davis was all over the place shouting out instructions to his young teammates and leading the way mentally.
(alphabetical order)

Jalen Bland, Hill- entered the game and went right to work by knocking down three 3-pointers in the first half while finishing with 11 points.

Mike Green, High- as far as scoring goes, Green was quiet for most of the game until he hit the two big buckets in the end. But just like Davis, Green did a great job of leading the way and helping out the young fellas. Finished with 11 points.

Jordan Hare, Hill- the 6-7 freshman had 3 blocks in the first quarter to go with a tip back and a 10 foot jumper. He was quiet in the second half but showed flashes that he can be a real "special" player.

Greg Hayes, High- the football standout is turning into a big time hoops prospect. He's so quick and can slice his way into the paint at will, and his two hand slam showed great athleticism and was just SICK! Hayes was one of the few players that could stick with Pookie in the open court. Finished with 14 points.

Pookie Jones, Hill- Pook carried the scoring load in the second half while continuing to find open shots for his teammates. Pookie connected on four 3-pointers that led to 24 points, 10 assist, and 4 steals. Saginaw tried to trap Pookie every time he touched the ball but it didn't faze the lightning quick guard at all.

Tommie McCune, High- stat line read 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks but Tommie played a much bigger role than what his numbers indicate. McCune is the emotional leader of this team and he fed plenty of energy into his team. His dunk over Schaaf nearly brought the roof down.

Mike Schaaf, Hill- came up big time for his team. He was tough in the paint and ran the floor hard which led to plenty of scoring opportunities. He added a 3-pointer on his way to 25 points and 8 rebounds.

Demetrius Simmons, High- finished with 18 points, that were spread out over all four quarters, but it seemed like every basket came at a crucial time for the Trojans.

Chris Webb, Hill- finished with 11 points on three 3-pointers and a dunk. Did a good job of handling the Trojan press.

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