As the boys basketball season reaches the midway point this week, Westland John Glenn guard Joe Moon tossed his name in the running for Mr. Basketball with an impressive 44-point performance last Friday in a 81-78 overtime loss at Belleville.
Moon, a 6-foot combo guard, showed his ability to take a game over when he scored 20 during the fourth quarter to rally his team back from a 10-point deficit to force overtime with a 3-pointer as time expired.
Sure, there have been several other big scoring nights from players across the state this season, but Moon’s came against a defensively tough Belleville team, which reached the state quarterfinals last season. Moon was extremely efficient in his career-high night, hitting on 13-of-20 shots from the field and 16-of-22 free throws.
No doubt, Romeo Weems of New Haven is the frontrunner for Mr. Basketball, but Moon has to be in the discussion. Moon is averaging 28.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists with multiple 30-plus point games.
“In my opinion, and I’ve been around a lot of guards, he’s one of the best guards I’ve coached and I’ve had a kid named Thomas Jackson that played at East Lansing High School back in the ‘90s and I’d put him at the same level as Thomas and he played basketball at Butler,” said John Glenn coach Rod Watts of Moon who has yet to receive an offer but is getting interest from Central Michigan, Kent State and Miami (Ohio). “He has a quick first step. He has a strong body. He takes selective shots. He’s not a volume shooter. He has to be on that Mr. Basketball list.
“Belleville always had one and a half guys on him knowing he’s the engine to what our team does. Most people figure if they can stop Joe, they can stop us. There’s not guards out there that by themselves that can stay in front of him. If he gets on your side then dial 9-1-1. Joe always guards the opposing team's best player and he still puts up the numbers that he puts up and plays 32 minutes.
“We played Wayne Memorial and Joe scored 37 and he guards the Lewis kid (guard Isaiah Lewis) and holds him to 14, just two field goals. Joe’s a great defender as well as a great offensive threat who can score in a variety of ways.”
Belleville coach Adam Trumpour could just smile and clap his hands as Moon’s 3-pointer forced overtime. After all, he had three players draped all over him before he got the shot off.
“Moon is really good,” Trumpour said. “We contested that (3-point) shot really well. The kid made a heck of a shot.”
Moon’s 44-point night set a school record and he has 1,013 career points, 157 points from breaking the career scoring record held by Nick Daniels who recently played at Oakland University.
Mr. PSL candidates
Jordan Whitford has done everything asked of him by head coach George Ward to help No. 10 Detroit King get off to a 9-1 start while looking like a legitimate threat to win the PSL title.
Whitford, a 6-0 senior point guard, will definitely be in the running for this year’s Mr. PSL, along with Renaissance 6-6 guard/forward Chandler Turner.
“Jordan’s evolution as a player is directly in correlation with his willingness to assume his role as a point guard,” said Ward of Whitford, who is averaging 15.5 points, seven assists, five rebounds and 2.5 steals while connecting on 88 percent of his free throws during the last two minutes of games.
“Most hoopers have been taught playing well means scoring well and vice versa. Jordan has realized that’s far from the truth as evidenced by his play the past two weeks. He’s passed a lot of players who were thought to be better than him coming into high school.”
Whitford, who has yet to receive a college offer, has been the catalyst on one of the state’s top defensive teams, playing a key role in wins over Chicago Orr (36-29, Dec. 30) and Kalamazoo Central (45-43, Jan. 5) before a pair of PSL victories over Detroit Western (62-31) and Detroit Douglass (65-46) last week.
“At the beginning of the season I kind of wanted to prove to everybody that I could score for a moment, but Coach (Ward) told me 'that’s not what you do,' so I embraced the role and decided to lead my team as a true point guard,” Whitford said.
“Right now we’re at the peak of our game because every day in practice we keep working hard and we have a bunch of young guys who are coming together and they’re willing to put in for the team and that’s a big part of it,” said Whitford of King’s talented young group, which includes 6-4 sophomore guard Omar Zeigler Jr. and 6-0 freshman Chansey Willis Jr. “Coach (Ward) preaches defense a lot and our offense is pretty much made through defense.”
King hosts No. 7 Detroit Cass Tech Friday in an attempt to avenge its lone loss.
Meanwhile, Turner has gotten things done at a high level at both ends of the court to help Renaissance to a 7-3 record under first-year head coach John White, incurring lossing to state powers in No. 5 Flint Beecher (77-74) and No. 9 Bridgeport (82-69), along with Chicago Bogan (88-68).
“I think I’ve improved on my rebounding this season, really have been concentrating on my game more on rebounding and playing defense,” said Turner, who signed a letter of intent with Bowling Green and will join former Renaissance guard Justin Turner there.
Turner is averaging 20.5 points and nine rebounds, including a 25-point, eight-rebound effort in a 73-60 win over defending Class C state champion Detroit Edison and a 14-point, 20-rebound performance in a 65-50 win over Detroit Henry Ford. Renaissance will play at Henry Ford Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve had a good season so far, getting used to playing for Coach (White),” said Turner of White, who replaced Vito Jordan who was fired last fall. “We’re fine with the coach. We have no problems with him. We’re getting along. We’re trying to click as a team now a little better. He’s doing a good job. I like the way he’s trying to make us play, how we’re improving our scoring and moving the ball.
“We’re more uptempo now, try to get the ball up a little faster to get some easy baskets. I feel we can compete for the PSL title. I believe we need to get the loose balls, maybe hustle a little harder because King and Cass play hard all the time.”
Big week ahead
It’s showdown week with No. 8 Roseville (9-1) playing host to No. 18 Macomb Dakota (8-1) in a MAC Red game Tuesday night. Dakota handed Roseville its lone loss of the season, 55-52 on Dec. 14, just 10 days after Roseville defeated Weems and New Haven 65-60 when Roseville senior guard Darien Banks scored 27, including 18 during the final quarter.
No. 4 U-D Jesuit (8-2) plays at No. 13 Detroit Catholic Central (8-2) Tuesday in a Catholic League Central Division game with 6-10 senior Jalen Thomas expected to be back in the lineup for U-D after missing the last nine games due to a foot injury.
U-D Jesuit defeated Catholic Central, 60-59, Dec. 14. Catholic Central has tremendous size with three 6-7 seniors on the floor in Brendan Downs, Justin Rukat and Davis Lukomski, who all average more than 14 points a game.
“They are all different types of players,” said Catholic Central first-year head coach Brandon Sinawi, who guided Novi to the Class A state semifinals last season. “All three can shoot the 3, but Davis and Rukat are better inside. Downs is the most athletic of the three, can jump out of the gym.”
On Friday afternoon, No. 7 Detroit Cass Tech plays at No. 10 Detroit King.
And, don’t forget the Horatio Williams Foundation Freedom Classic, which will be held Saturday at Warren Fitzgerald with No. 20 Detroit Mumford taking on top-ranked Detroit Edison in a noon girls game, followed by a handful of boys games, starting at 1:45 with Harper Woods Chandler Park facing Macomb Dakota with Detroit Western taking on Ann Arbor Huron at 3:30, Detroit Edison-Warren DeLaSalle at 5, No. 10 Detroit King-No. 12 Clarkston at 6:30 and No. 2 River Rouge-No. 5 Flint Beecher at 8:30. Admission is $10.