Ypsilanti — Emoni Bates lived up to the hype in his high school debut for Ypsilanti Lincoln Monday night at Eastern Michigan University's Convocation Center.
Bates, the No. 1 rated freshman in the nation, used his size (6-foot-8), athleticism and skill to put on a show while getting the fans out of their seats on numerous occasions, finishing with 34 points and 15 rebounds to help Lincoln defeat Ann Arbor Huron 80-69 in the Ypsilanti Tip-Off Classic.
Bates, 14, scored eight during the final five minutes to rally Lincoln back from a 68-62 deficit to the win. Lincoln ended the game with a 14-0 run.
With Huron holding a 69-66 lead, Bates scored off a scoop to pull Lincoln within 69-68, then blocked a shot and less than a minute later scored in transition for a 70-69 lead with 2:50 left.
Lincoln forced multiple turnovers and made 8 of 8 free throws down the stretch.
“As a team we played good for our first time today,” Bates said.
Bates showed his ability to shoot from the perimeter, attack the basket or score off of putbacks throughout the game, playing the part of a younger and shorter … for now, version of Kevin Durant.
Bates scored 10 in the opening quarter, making consecutive 3-pointers to open up an 8-0 lead after missing badly on his first shot while attacking the basket.
“That just got me going, first couple of shots (3-pointers) the crowd was into it, got me going and I was scoring so my teammates kept getting me the ball since I was feeling it,” Bates said.
Bates said he was not nervous before his prep debut.
“For me, I just attack the game the same way," Bates said. "I’ve been playing for so long so I don’t need to be nervous. I just play my game."
Later in the first quarter, Bates grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast, finishing at the rim for a 15-6 advantage.
In the second quarter, Bates dunked off an alley-oop pass from Cameron Johnson, then made a steal leading to a Lincoln basket and 29-23 lead.
But, the best was yet to come with Bates dunking over a Huron player on a putback for a 31-25 lead with Huron getting the points back off of free throws after Bates was handed a technical for hanging on the rim.
It certainly didn’t stop him from dunking off another putback seconds later for a 33-27 cushion with 3:50 left.
“My team was hyping me up so I was just hyped and I had to do that,” said Bates of the dunks.
Lincoln led 39-37 at halftime with Bates accounting for 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
Bates continued his impressive play in the third quarter, including a dunk off an inbounds pass, entering the fourth quarter with 24 points and Lincoln holding a 59-57 lead.
After Huron went on an 11-3 run to open the fourth quarter for a 68-62 lead, Bates and his teammates won with defense, showing it can get things done on both ends of the floor.