The Skyline boys’ basketball team has run the table, winning all 14 games against an impressive schedule including the likes of Belleville, Novi, Pershing, Wayne Memorial, Old Redford Academy, Pioneer and Huron.
The win over Huron, 76-56 on Dec. 19, was led by the Eagles’ stellar backcourt of Jack Ammerman and Brandon Wade who combined for 36 points and 12 assists. In the game, the Eagles just did their thing and gradually pulled away, leading 16-11 after one quarter, 34-24 at halftime and 52-38 after three quarters.
The two teams meet again at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Skyline High School –weather permitting.
The River Rats have gotten better since that December loss and most importantly have gotten healthy. Senior Avery Lewis, a huge key for Huron, has battled through a few injuries and should be ready to roll on Friday. Senior point guard Lewis Willis is having an outstanding season and freshman Devin Womack is coming into his own.
The problem for Huron is the Eagles also have gotten better. Junior Ryan Wade is a dangerous offensive player who seems to just get better and play with more confidence every time he steps on the floor. Two other examples are DeSean Munson (16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks against Waverly) and sophomore Kabir Bergin (11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 of 4 from 3 point range against Waverly).
Pioneer Coach Rich Marion has seen both teams play and knows what it’s like to play in one of these city-rivalry games. The key will be whether Huron, a program known for strong defense, can at least limit the Eagles from taking flight. They aren’t going to ground them but can they keep them in the gym.
“We watched tape of their first meeting and Huron played a lot of zone against Skyline,” Marion said. “They did OK with it. Now we gave up 87 points to Skyline so I don’t know how much of an expert I am in how to stop them. They are just so hard to defend.
“We try to be a pressure defensive program but when you run into Skyline it’s a question of how much can you try and trap them because if that ball gets out of the trap you are in big trouble. They have a couple bigs who can finish and great shooters so it’s like pick your poison.”
Huron played a lot of zone and Skyline scored 76 points. Pioneer played a lot of man and gave up 87 points. The Eagles have scored 80 or more points in each of their last four games and are averaging 75.4 points in their 14 games. Huron, on the other hand, has only scored 75 or more points three times this season.
The River Rats are going to have to keep the Skyline offense at around 70 points to have a chance. Saline, Pershing and Sterling Heights Stevenson are the only teams to hold Skyline under 70. But Huron probably doesn’t come out ahead in a shooting match.
“When we played Huron we weren’t at full strength because we didn’t have Drew (Lowder) but Huron also wasn’t either,” Marion said. “Avery (Lewis) played but he certainly wasn’t 100 percent. They certainly need him out there.
“(Willis) had a nice game against us and he needs to take care of the ball offensively and he has to score it,” Marion said. “He also is going to have chase Brandon Wade around a little bit and they all are going to have to make shots. They are going to need someone besides (Willis and Lewis) to also step up.”
Marion believes Skyline has improved defensively from a year ago and they are “where you figured they would be offensively with all those skilled offensive players.” He is a little surprised to see them at 14-0 against that type of schedule.
“The eye opener was the way they handled Belleville,” he said. “Belleville is loaded. We were up by three points against Belleville at halftime and feel like we may left an opportunity on the table in that one ourselves.
“It does surprise me to see any high school team run the table up to this point, but the thing about Skyline is they have veteran guards. Ammerman and Brandon have seen everything and Ryan Wade is playing at a high level. When Brandon steps on the floor he is all business and that mentality seems to have rubbed off on the rest of that roster. And that is one thing that not a lot of high school basketball teams have and that as much as anything is why they are 14-0.”