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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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Undaunted Desire

Special to The Oakland Press
Birmingham Detroit Country Day doesn't discriminate – the Yellowjackets take on all comers, near and far. After posting four straight victories to start the season against in-state opponents, the Country Day boys basketball squad has used this past week to expand their on-court resume to now include back-to-back wins over a pair of highly-vaunted out-of-state teams.
Last Tuesday, Country Day went down to Indiana and crushed number two-ranked in the state, Ft. Wayne Bishop Lauers, 93-77, in the Midwest Basketball Challenge held in Indianapolis. On Monday night in their own home gym, the Yellowjackets continued their trend of slaying out-of-state giants and took down a scrappy and talented Madison Memorial team – a defending state champion and the number 3 ranked team in Wisconsin – by the score of 61-48 in front of a packed house in the third day-finale of the 15th annual Motor City Roundball Classic.
The Yellowjackets are now 6-0 overall and will look to make it three in a row against out-of-state foes on Wednesday when they host Gary Wallace High School out of the Northwest Indiana area. Memorial goes to 4-2 on the year with the defeat.
Country Day's effort was highlighted by senior floor general, Ray McCallum, Jr., who scored a game-high 19 points, while registering seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. One of the best point guards in the country coming off an All-State junior season, McCallum has narrowed his college choices down to four schools: Arizona, UCLA, Florida, and the University of Detroit-Mercy, where his father, Ray, Sr., is the head coach.
"We're going to bring it every night no matter who we're playing," said McCallum outside the locker room after the game. "Games like this prove what kind of team we are and what kind of player I am. I don't fear anybody. This team doesn't fear anybody either. I want to make a statement every time I lead this team onto the court. That's what we've been doing and that's what we're going to keep doing."
Juniors Amir Williams and Lee Bailey were active and aggressive on both ends of the court throughout the entire contest and proved equally lethal to the Memorial defense as their heavily-sought after teammate did. Patrolling the paint with an intimidating flair, the 6-10 Williams, a premiere big man in the recruiting Class of 2011, scored 15 points, corralled 12 rebounds, and blocked four shots. Bailey, a two-sport stud who also excels on the football field, chipped in with 14 points, five assists, three steals and a lockdown defensive performance against the Spartans' All-State combo-guard, Vander Blue, who he helped hold to 14 points.
Memorial has been to back-to-back Wisconsin state championship games and last season led by current Marquette Golden Eagle Jevonne Maymon, won it all. Blue is slated to join Maymon in Milwaukee next year, as he signed a letter of intent with head coach's Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles program in November. The Spartans entered this season ranked number one in the state, but fell two spots in the polls following a loss at the buzzer in their home state last week
From start to finish, Country Day was the better team. Leading 17-11 after the first quarter, the Yellowjackets made it a 31-23 ballgame at the break courtesy of McCallum's pull-up 25-foot 3-pointer that just beat the second quarter buzzer. A McCallum tip-slam on the fast break pumped the Country Day lead up to 14 points early in the third quarter and his acrobatic three point-play just a few minutes later provided the Yellowjackets a comfortable 48-34 lead. Junior reserve power forward, Carter Elliott's offensive rebound and put back in the closing seconds of the third quarter placed the score at 50-34 going into the fourth.
Refusing to go its demise quietly, Memorial kept playing hard and eventually cut its deficit all the way down to seven points in the final 90 seconds of the game. Five straight points by Spartans' senior guard Tre Cramer made it 52-45 with 1:29 remaining. But Country Day wouldn't be denied and outscored Memorial 9-3 the rest of the way, causing several turnovers that McCallum and company were able to turn into transition buckets. Two free throws by Bailey at the 1:14 mark of the fourth that pushed the Yellowjackets advantage back to double-digits at 55-45 were followed up by two spectacular plays by McCallum to close things out.
First, he stole a Spartan pass at mid-court and fed a streaking Williams for an authoritative slam dunk on the other end. Finally, as the closing seconds of the game ticked away, he made another steal and soared in for a rim-rattling, two-handed slam himself that brought the capacity crowd to its feet.
"If we're playing at our best, it is really pick your poison with this team," said Country Day head coach, Kurt Keener, in the locker room following his team's win. "Ray is so athletic and smart, you just can't contain him for an entire game. And the rest of the backcourt in Chris (Fowler) and Lee (Bailey) are playing at a level right now where I have complete confidence in them. On the other hand, Amir is so good down low, he'll really hurt a team if they focus too much on our perimeter play. Teams are forced to shift their offense and defense to adjust to his presence. These are big games we've been playing early on and I like how we've responded so far."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I think everyone in the state knows that Ray McCallum is the best basketball player in MI and in the nation. We all know he is a coveted recruit and we all know his college choices. You don't have to write every other article about Ray and repeat yourself constantly. YES, we all know Ray is great and his skills are insane...but get off him a little bit. Stop kissing his (you know what) every article and repeating yourself. Yes, give respect and press where it is needed. but pleeeeeeeaseeeee stop over-doing it. its getting real annoying.

Otherwise, blog and columns are very well written and good to read. I am a long time reader and will continue to. Thanks.

December 29, 2009 at 11:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

correction: first sentence. i meant to say,

"and one of the best in the nation".

Not THE best. but up there

December 29, 2009 at 11:27 AM 

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