Prep Insider: North Farmington challenging in OAA Red

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Fifth-year coach Todd Negoshian thinks this is the year for North Farmington to win the Oakland Activities Association Red Division championship and make a deep run in the state tournament.

The journey should be an interesting one with defending league champion Clarkston showcasing standout sophomore point guard Foster Loyer — who scored 44 Saturday in a win over Romulus — and Rochester Adams off to a 6-0 start with senior guard Spencer Littleson averaging 32 points.

North Farmington (7-1), which finished 20-4 last season, will play at Clarkston (4-1) Thursday night.

North Farmington has an outstanding backcourt, led by 6-foot-3 Jacob Joubert, the starting point guard since his freshman year. Joubert averages 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds and is also an excellent student with a 4.0 GPA.

“Jacob runs our team and when he goes so do we,” Negoshian said. “He’s a great leader who has a great understanding of the game.

“We have a lot of depth and that’s our biggest strength. We have 12 seniors and the majority of them have been here four years and been through the wars and know what it takes to be successful.”

The team also has been aided by 6-2 senior guard Billy Thomas, whom the MHSAA forced to sit out the state tournament last year despite playing in the regular season after transferring from a prep school (Genesis Academy) in Virginia.

Thomas played his first two years alongside Cassius Winston at U-D Jesuit, scoring 21 in a Class A state semifinal loss to Bloomfield Hills two years ago.

“He’s a great scorer who has a great feel for the game,” Negoshian said.

Thomas suffered an ankle injury in the opening minutes of the season opener against Detroit Henry Ford, then missed several games before returning Friday to score 14, making three 3-pointers in a 65-28 rout of Farmington Hills Harrison.

Thomas scored 31 Saturday in a 74-58 win over Detroit Pershing, making six 3-pointers.

Nate Brooks, a 6-8 transfer, has moved back to Georgia, but North Farmington has another transfer in 6-2 junior guard Amauri Hardy from Southfield, who has blended in well.

Hardy is averaging 17 points.

Jordan high on Talley

Detroit Renaissance coach Vito Jordan talked highly of point guard Richard Talley last season when Talley was sidelined with an ankle injury during a one-point loss to Detroit Western, the eventual Class A state champion, in the PSL championship game.

Jordan is thrilled to have Talley healthy for his senior season, watching him score 14 with five assists and four steals in a 48-39 win Tuesday that ended Western’s 31-game winning streak. Talley was 6-of-8 from the field, including a driving layup and 3-pointer during a 13-2 run to open up a 36-23 cushion in the third quarter.

More importantly, Talley limited Oakland-bound guard Brailen Neely to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting after he averaged 22 during Western’s 5-0 start.

“Like I said last year, not having him when he went down with an ankle hurt more than anything,” Jordan said.

“He’s not going to show up in the stat sheet every day where he’s going to have 20 points or 10 assists, but in the end he’ll have no turnovers, he’s going to fight and be on the floor and prevent the player he’s defending from scoring. He’s a winner and I’m tired of talking to college coaches about him. It’s their loss.

“I’m putting my money on him if I’m walking through an alley and it’s all about sheer heart and grit and toughness, he’s got my vote.”

Talley joins 6-4 Justin Turner to give Renaissance a strong backcourt. After a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) against Western, Turner — who is being recruited by numerous MAC and Horizon League schools — scored 22 in a 68-53 win at Detroit Pershing Friday with Talley contributing 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Renaissance (6-0, 2-0) plays Tuesday afternoon at Cass Tech (3-3, 1-0), which handed Western its second straight loss Friday, 53-48.

Skyline impressive from deep

Mike Lovelace, the head basketball coach since Ann Arbor Skyline was established eight years ago, is enjoying the progress this season of his young squad, which features two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup.

Skyline can shoot the deep ball, making 71 3-pointers in seven games at a 42 percent clip.

Skyline set school records for points in consecutive games, making 17 3-pointers each night in a 94-54 win over Temperance Bedford and 100-71 rout of Hazel Park. Sophomore Jack Ammerman made 9 of 9 threes in the win over Hazel Park.

While Ammerman is averaging a team-high 20.3 points and has made 28 of 59 3-pointers, Lovelace said 6-1 sophomore point guard Brandon Wade (19.1 points, six assists) is the top player for Skyline (4-3). Wade already is receiving offers from Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Northern Illinois.

Wade has made 15 of 35 threes, scoring 22 Tuesday in a 73-67 comeback win over Belleville and 30 in a 90-81 loss Friday to Ann Arbor Pioneer.

“We have some very good young shooters,” Lovelace said. “We’re not specifically trying to go three for two or anything like that, but we have very good guard play, spread things out and take what teams give us.

“We have about four or five players who are above average at shooting threes. Jack is exceptional and we have a couple of others improving every day. We work on it (3-point shooting) a lot, but it’s also the kids’ natural ability. Jack and Brandon are buddies, playing on the (AAU Michigan) Gators for a few years.”

Lovelace also has high praise for sophomore guard LJ DeWolf, who averages 10 points and has made 12 of 22 3-pointers, and junior Daniel Black. DeWolf scored 14 in the win over Belleville.

“We really like to get our shooters open on the wing so a big key in our offense is driving and kicking to find the shooters,” said Ammerman, who added that he shoots 200 3-pointers every day. “We’re a smaller team, but the way we shoot the ball we can compete with a lot of good teams.”

Skyline hosts Clarkston on Tuesday night.

“It should be a lot of fun to watch with our two sophomores in Jack and Brandon going up against Foster Loyer of Clarkston,” Lovelace said.

By the numbers

2: Consecutive losses suffered by defending PSL champion Detroit Western after winning 31 straight games, including 26 en route to last year’s Class A state championship

10: Points St. Joseph allowed from Michigan-bound guard Kysre Gondrezick, who was averaging more than 40, in a 72-35 win over Benton Harbor Friday night.

27: 3-pointers Rochester Adams senior guard Spencer Littleson has made in six games. He is averaging 32 points.

Top performer

Foster Loyer, Clarkston

The sophomore guard scored a career-high 44 Saturday in a 74-52 win over Romulus in the New Year’s Classic at Detroit Renaissance. He also had six assists, five rebounds and four steals in helping Clarkston dominate the second half, 43-21.

Quotable

“I’m putting my money on him if I’m walking through an alley and it’s all about sheer heart, grit and toughness, he’s got my vote.”

— Vito Jordan, Detroit Renaissance coach, on senior point guard Richard Talley

Top game last week

Ann Arbor Skyline 73, Belleville 67: Several scouts were in the stands to watch Belleville sophomore guard Davion Williams play, but it was Skyline’s sophomore backcourt of Brandon Wade (22 points) and Jack Ammerman (19 points) who stole the show.

Skyline combined to make 6 of 14 3-pointers in the second half to come back from a double-figure deficit.

Top game this week

North Farmington (7-1) at Clarkston (4-1), 7 p.m. Thursday: This is an OAA Red Division showdown with North Farmington attempting to dethrone Clarkston.

Fans will get their shot at watching numerous special guards in action, including Foster Loyer and Dylan Alderson of Clarkston and Jacob Joubert and Billy Thomas of North Farmington.

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

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