River Rouge coach Lamonta Stone is looking forward to his team’s game against Ypsilanti Lincoln and the nation’s No. 1 freshman in 6-foot-8 Emoni Bates on Dec. 29. The 3 p.m. game will be part of the Washtenaw County Holiday Showcase at Ypsilanti High School.
Bates, 6-8 and 170 pounds, is averaging 28.4 points while helping Lincoln get off to an impressive 5-0 start, coming up with a pair of 32-point games, including the season-opening 80-69 victory over Ann Arbor Huron when Lincoln ended the game with an 18-1 run.
Bates and Lincoln have faced just about every type of defense, including a zone in a win at Saline. In a 73-57 win at Pinckney Thursday, Bates scored 32 despite being held and pushed around at times. He hit the court hard late in the first half, but scored 18 points during the final two quarters before taking a seat with 3:35 left and his team holding a 75-46 lead.
With all the hype surrounding him and close attention given to him by opposing teams, Bates has kept his composure and has displayed great poise despite being just 14.
River Rouge – which has a lot of experience back from consecutive Class B state semifinal appearances – was ranked No. 2 in The Detroit News preseason rankings. After losing its season-opener to Detroit King, River Rouge has won four straight and will give Bates and Lincoln its biggest test of the season, led by 6-5 Donovan Freeman, 6-5 Micah Parrish, 6-6 Dan Few 6-7 Legend Geeter, who is one of the top sophomores in the state and getting attention from Big Ten schools.
“It’s going to be interesting because I have a group of seniors – some bigger, stronger seniors,” said Stone of River Rouge going up against Bates. “They are going to beat him up. They are going to go after him because they are just older, bigger and stronger kids, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he responds to that.
“He’s the most talented freshman I’ve seen since Josh Jackson. I saw Josh as a freshman, but Josh wasn’t 6-8 and Bates is a legit 6-8 and offensively he’s so much more further than Josh was as a ninth grader that it’s ridiculous.”
Jackson started his prep career at Detroit Consortium. He played a year at Kansas before being No. 4 overall pick of the Phoenix Suns in 2017.
Bates has a strong supporting cast in senior guard Jalen Fisher (13 points), 6-2 senior point guard Tahj Chatman (11.8 points) and 6-4 senior guard Amari Frye (10 points); all can all hit the perimeter shot or take the ball to the basket.
Still, Stone likes his chances with River Rouge using a balanced scoring attack.
“We didn’t have a lot of stuff in at that point (loss to King) since I had just taken the job a month before – just ran our basic offense and basic defense,” said Stone of the season-opening loss to King. “Now, we probably have 60 percent in of what we’re going to do this year. And, like I told my team when we won the state championships: We lost a game in ’98, the home opener, then lost two in ’99.
“We’re playing well right now. We have everyone averaging between probably 10 and 14 points. Donovan Freeman is playing well. Dan Few, who is going to Lake Superior, is playing well. Micah Parrish and Nigel (Colvin), those four are really playing well and the point guard, Bralin (Toney), is running the show.”
Stone has high praise for Geeter.
“Legend is the best player on my team and all the Big Ten guys are calling about him,” said Stone of the 6-7, 205-pound Geeter, who is averaging 10 points and seven rebounds.
Detroit Cass Tech head coach Steve Hall has his team playing well defensively with its press, trap and zone defense giving opponents little room to operate.
After a 60-58 season-opening loss to Flint Carmen-Ainsworth, Cass Tech has won five straight, including a 55-41 win over Detroit King last Tuesday.
Cass Tech is led by 6-3 junior point guard Tyson Acuff and 6-5 senior forward Kalil Whitehead, who signed with Chicago State.
“He’s a veteran,” Hall said of Acuff. “He’s seasoned and I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. He has great size and vision and he’s a great teammate. He can also score and he’s composed, and that’s the first thing you want is to have a good point guard who can run your team.”
Acuff has received interest from Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi State and Temple. He enjoys playing in Cass Tech’s pressure defense, which has the team known as Press Tech due to its ability to force turnovers.
“We take pride in our defense, love to make teams play fast and make them uncomfortable, force them into doing things they are not comfortable doing,” Acuff said.
Hall feels fortunate to have multiple guards who can handle the ball.
“In the PSL that’s vital, the more guards the merrier, especially with somebody’s extending their pressure full-court,” Hall said.
Cass Tech will play host to North Farmington Thursday in the PSL Holiday Hoops Classic.
Great start for Edsel Ford
Dearborn Edsel Ford is off to a strong start, going 7-1 with its lone loss coming to a talented Roseville team.
Edsel Ford’s tallest player is 6-2, but it showcases multiple players who can make the 3-pointer.
“I have a bunch of tough-minded, aggressive, and hard-working young men who are a pleasure to work with,” Coach Ibrahim Baydoun said. “We shoot a lot of 3-pointers, and press and trap most of the game.”
Edsel Ford is led by four-year starter Jalal Baydoun, a 6-foot senior point guard who is off to a tremendous start, averaging 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and three steals. He scored a career-high 39 points with six rebounds and six assists Thursday night against Dearborn Heights Crestwood to go over 1,200 points for his career.
The team as a whole is guard-oriented with nine of the 11 players being guards. Senior guards Cooper Leisenring, Hakeem Fitahey and Maxwell Marion are all two-year varsity players. First-time varsity players Rami Salem, Yousef Hussein, Jamal Mogalli and Ismail Albaneh have all stepped up and played very well.
Edsel Ford will play crosstown rival Dearborn Fordson on Dec. 28 at 4:30 at Dearborn High in the Mayor Guido Christmas Tournament.
PSL HOLIDAY HOOPS CLASSIC
At Cass Tech
Wednesday, Dec. 26
11 a.m. – Detroit Pershing vs. Toledo Scott (boys)
1 p.m. – Detroit Denby vs. Detroit Edison (boys)
3 p.m. – Detroit Renaissance vs. Detroit Edison (girls)
5 p.m. – Detroit King vs. Woodhaven (boys)
7 p.m. – Detroit Renaissance vs. Bridgeport (boys)
Thursday, Dec. 27
11 a.m. – Detroit Northwestern vs. Bloomfield Hills (boys)
1 p.m. – Detroit Western vs. St. Clair Shores Lake Shore (boys)
3 p.m. – Detroit Mumford vs. Dexter (girls)
5 p.m. – Detroit Henry Ford vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill (boys)
7 p.m. – Detroit Cass Tech vs. North Farmington (boys)
MOTOR CITY BOYS ROUNDBALL CLASSIC
Friday, Dec. 28
10 a.m. – Novi Christian vs. Melvindale ABT
11:40 a.m. – Detroit Pershing vs. Detroit University Prep
1:20 p.m. – Troy vs. Ann Arbor Huron
3 p.m. – Milford vs. Harper Woods
4:40 p.m. – Cincinnati Withrow vs. Warren De La Salle
6:20 p.m. – Williamston vs. Pickerington (Ohio) Central
8 p.m. – Chicago Orr vs. Ferndale
Saturday, Dec. 29
10 a.m. – Cincinnati Colerain vs. Detroit Henry Ford
11:40 a.m. – Troy Athens vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley
1:20 p.m. – Dearborn Heights Robichaud vs. Warren De La Salle
3 p.m. - Roseville vs. Cincinnati Withrow
4:40 p.m. – Okemos vs. Warren Lincoln
6:20 p.m. – Ann Arbor Skyline vs. Saginaw
8 p.m. – U-D Jesuit vs. Chicago Orr
Sunday, Dec. 30
10 a.m. – Walled Lake Central vs. Detroit CMA
11:40 a.m. – Dearborn Heights Annapolis vs. Cincinnati Colerain
1:20 p.m. – Pickerington Central vs. St. Clair Shores Lakeshore
3 p.m. – Mt. Clemens vs. Detroit Loyola
4:40 p.m. – Dearborn Divine Child vs. Rochester Adams
6:20 p.m. – Chicago Orr vs. Detroit King
8 p.m. – Detroit Catholic Central vs. Harper Woods Chandler Park
WASHTENAW COUNTY HOLIDAY SHOWCASE
At Ypsilanti Community High School
Saturday, Dec. 29
Noon – Ann Arbor Huron vs. Southfield A&T
1:30 p.m. – Chelsea vs. Jackson Parma Western
3 p.m. – Ypsilanti Lincoln vs. River Rouge
4:30 p.m. – Ann Arbor Pioneer vs. Wayne Memorial
6 p.m. – Ypsilanti Community vs. Detroit Henry Ford
MOTOR CITY GIRLS ROUNDBALL CLASSIC
At Warren Lincoln
Thursday, Dec. 27
11 a.m. – Saginaw vs. Lansing Eastern
12:40 p.m. – Port Huron vs. Oak Park
2:20 p.m. – Jackson vs. Pontiac
4 p.m. – St. Ignace vs. Reese
5:40 p.m. – Detroit Country Day vs. Port Huron Northern
7:20 p.m. – River Rouge vs. Chicago Hyde Park
9 p.m. – Detroit Northwestern vs. Bridgeport
Friday, Dec. 28
11 a.m. – Waterford Kettering vs. Williamston
12:40 p.m. – Kalamazoo Central vs. Detroit Country Day
2:20 p.m. – Ann Arbor Huron vs. Detroit King
4 p.m. – Chicago Hyde Park vs. Detroit Mumford
5:40 p.m. – Chicago Gary Comer vs. Corunna
7:20 p.m. – Chicago Philips vs. Southfield A&T
9 p.m. – Chicago Hope Academy vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep
Saturday, Dec. 29
9:20 a.m. – Bridgeport vs. Warren Lincoln
11 a.m. – Chicago Hyde Park vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill
12:40 p.m. – St. Ignace vs. Detroit Mumford
2:20 p.m. – Lenawee Christian vs. Bay City John Glenn
4 p.m. – Chicago Gary Comer vs. Detroit Cass Tech
5:40 p.m. – Chicago Hope Academy vs. Detroit Renaissance
7:20 p.m. – Chicago Philips vs. Harper Woods Chandler Park
Sunday, Dec. 30
11 a.m. – Chicago Gary Comer vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill
12:40 p.m. – Chicago Hope Academy vs. Detroit King
2:20 p.m. Chicago Philips vs. Saginaw Heritage
4 p.m. – Flint Beecher vs. Detroit Cody
5:40 p.m. – Midland vs. Toledo Waite
7:20 p.m. – L’Anse Creuse North vs. North Farmington