And in this corner, now with their starting point guard back from injury and playing at a high level is Pioneer. And in the other corner, now with their big man’s foot fully healed and the seniors leading the way is Huron.
Gentlemen, start your engines.
And while it appears we mixed our metaphors (“round two” being boxing and “start your engines” being auto racing) Friday’s showdown between Pioneer and Huron in boys’ basketball is sure to be part slugfest and part track meet. It’s also sure to be a close, exciting game between two outstanding basketball teams, both playing their best at the right time of the season.
Huron Coach Jay Shunnar calls this the “greatest rivalry in Ann Arbor.” And Shunnar should know – he’s not only coached in this rivalry but played in it. It is certainly the longest rivalry in the city – there is no doubt about that.
In the first meeting, the host River Rats trailed 32-25 at halftime. Even playing without star guard Drew Lowder, the Pioneers were fully in control in the first half. But Huron came out swinging and running and scoring in the third quarter. Huron ended the third quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 45-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
The River Rats won 60-48.
But that game doesn’t mean a whole lot heading into Friday night’s contest at Pioneer. Lowder, one of the top players in the state, is back and filling it up. He had 28 points in a close loss last week to Skyline. Teammate Kasean Pryor also has improved greatly since the first meeting – he had 19 points against the Eagles.
Pioneer will be a much different team than the one the River Rats faced on Feb. 15. And Shunnar and the River Rats know this. They are expecting a much more up-tempo game and will have to adjust their defense to try and slow the dynamic Lowder.
“Any time Drew is playing he is going to change the game,” Shunnar said. “They are playing really well and with a lot of confidence. It will be a good one.”
The River Rats also are playing with confidence. Avery Lewis is 100 percent after some nagging injuries early in the year. Lewis Willis is shooting and scoring at a high rate and freshman Devin Womack and junior Aayush Unadkat have gained valuable experience and are contributing big time.
“Our guys are really starting to come together and I’m really proud of our team,” Shunnar said. “Our seniors are really leading the way.”
Shunnar is like everyone else. He can’t wait until 7 p.m. on Friday.
“If you played at one of these schools you remember these games,” he said. “People who played in these games 30 years ago still come to these games. It should be a good one and I know both teams will be ready to play.”
The varsity girls’ game between Huron and Pioneer begins at 5:30 p.m. with the boys following at 7 p.m.