Blogs > Burney's Bites

Burney's Bites will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chomping At The Bit

Burney's Trip Out To Bronco Country Well Worth His While
Alright, so I've been following OC prep hoops since around 1988 and I had never had the pleasure of making a trip out to Holly to catch a game.  That all changed on Tuesday and let me tell you Burney liked what he saw and he plans on coming back very soon for more.    With the excitement of the new boys bball campaign reading to  tip-off feverishly-running through my veins, I drove north on 1-75 Tuesday evening to take in the beloved hometown Broncos' season opener against perennial world-beaters Birmingham Detroit Country Day (The state's number one ranked team in Class B). The "Horseshoe" – the nickname of Holly's world-class gym – was all that I expected. It definitely lived up to its billing as a great place to watch a high school game and one of the nicer prep hoop venues in the area.
This year's version of the Broncos boys hoop squad is the real deal – lots of seniors, lots of top-echelon transfers and coming off a 19 win and conference championship winning season last year that galvanized the entire community. Not to mention the presence of, "Mr. Real Deal" himself, cagey and coldblooded senior forward Lance Hopkin, one of the top players in the county.
That said, the visiting Yellowjackets consistently play at a totally different and much higher level than most HS bball programs across the land and Tuesday night was no different.
The conclusion of this story has no Cinderella ending. Holly played valiantly, however ultimately could not overcome DCD's overwhelming athleticism and college-rated talent to really come even close to pulling the upset. Country Day won 59-34, outscoring the Broncos 20-4 in the crucial fourth quarter. At the end, the filled-to-the-brim and enthusiastic home crowd could only stand and cheer the effort, which was mighty commendable. That is because despite what a 25-point margin of defeat might tell you of the game, the Holly hoopsters dawning the red and white showed well under the spotlight and played tough-as-nails throughout the entire contest.
The Broncos didn't bring their "A" game on Tuesday. They coughed the ball up 30 times and had an awful tough time finding any offensive rhythm outside of their star player. Starting point guard Justin Fowler was hampered with foul trouble from the first quarter onward and that made getting the offense in order a difficult task. Hopkin carried the Holly "O" only as far as he could. The kid hit every big shot possible. His team-high 15 points was one of the loudest 15-point outings I have ever witnessed.
A few quick highlights from the game;
Yellowjackets jump out of gate fast – 8-0 run to start the game capped by Ray McCallum's steal and two-hand stuff
Hopkin's 3-pointer at first quarter buzzer makes it 15-8
Five straight points by Hopkin in the final 42 seconds of the second quarter makes it a 27-19 Broncos deficit at the half
McCallum's alley-oop slam off pass from Chris Fowler on first play of second half sets tone for coming onslaught
A nifty drive and score in the lane by Hopkin in closing seconds of the third quarter makes it 39-30  - Holly is losing but within striking distance going down the stretch
Hopkin's 3-pointer from deep in left corner a minute and a half into the fourth pulls Holly to within an eight point deficit at 41-33
Country Day decides to stop toying around and goes all Iron Sheik on the Broncos late, putting them in the Cobra Clutch and affirmatively turning the lights out on the hometown Holly party by holding the host horseman to a mere one point in the final 6:33 of the game.
Ray McCallum scores 12 of his 19 points in the decisive second half, to go along with five dimes and six swipes. Chris Fowler tickled the twine for 11 points in his first start in the Yellowjackets backcourt and junior blue chipper Amir Williams had 10 points to go along with seven boards
Memo to all: Ray McCallum is the second coming!!!!!! BELIEVE THE HYPE
Alright, so what have we learned so far- Holly and DCD are on two different playing fields as programs. So, what else is new?
The fact that Holly was even in this ballgame in the fourth quarter says all you need to know about where the Broncos program is headed under the direction of head coach Lance Bayliss.  If this was two seasons ago, possibly even last season, that 25 point loss could have easily been a 40 defeat. Bayliss, in his fifth year at the helm of the Holly hoop program, is building a winner and the numbers show out to prove it. In his first year, the team had one win. In the next, it was 10 wins. Then it was 12 wins. Finally, last season, it was a school record 19 "W's" and a conference banner.
Helping out Hopkin this season with the upstart Broncos is a stellar supporting cast. Senior guards Justin Fowler and Kyle Sherwin are both fundamentally sound in multiple facets of the game and top team leaders. Senior forwards Evan Young and Kevin Wilson act as "The Clean-up Crew" and are warriors in the pos. Hopkin's baby brother, Austin, a sophomore, is an emerging star himself.
Coming on board second semester will be athletic combo-guard Thomas Lovachis and dead-eye shooter, Josh Fugate, both transfers forced to sit the first 8 games of the season for eligibility purposes. To say Lovachis, a recent youtube sensation with an electrifying highlight tape from his days playing at Stockbridge, and Fugate, a key member of a solid Lakeland team last year, will help the Broncos cause would be a gross understatement. Each will be a key contributor on the floor and crucial components to the overall puzzle if the team wants to try to claim a district title at season's end.
In a perfect world, the match-up between Holly and Country Day would have been played on the final night of the season instead of the opening night of the season. Holly would have Lovachis and Fugate and DCD would have all of that residual rust off the proverbial engine that showed its ugly head in a sloppy Yellowjackets' first half on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, I'm quite certain that both squads are well on its way to great campaigns on the hardwood.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"dawning" the read and white. forget the hip/hop references and get the words correctly.

plus it's the broncHos of holly.

December 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM 

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