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.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Its A Mad Mad World

The scoreboard in the Madison Heights Madison gymnasium was malfunctioning on Wednesday night, in stark contrast to the Madison boys basketball team, which was functioning at the highest of levels in its non-conference showdown with a considerably taller Sterling Heights squad. Utilizing a frenetic transition game and some sticky defense, the Eagles trounced the visiting-Stallions, 72-49 and dialed up their overall record to a not so shabby 10-2.
In a game which had a scrimmage-like feel to it as a result of the defective scoreboard requiring the score to be tallied by hand with a plastic number display and time intervals to be shouted out by officials every three minutes, Madison surged in front of a physically-bigger Sterling Heights squad and never looked back.
Leading the way for the Eagles was sophomore sensation, Damon Bozeman, who put in another supreme outing for Madison on both ends of the floor by posting his sixth double-double of the season. Bozeman scored a game-high 22 points, while hauling down 11 rebounds. He also played very strong defense against a larger Stallions' front court, helping limit Sterling Heights 6-9 center Adam Ring to just six points and five rebounds.
"I just love playing the game of basketball," said Bozeman, a second year varsity letterman following the triumph. "Everything is going well for us as a team right now and we need to ride that momentum as far as we can. We can't get cocky. If we keep preparing and playing hard, we'll be okay."
Madison's mini, yet mighty backcourt of seniors R.T. Merritt and Ashton Curd, gave their opponents fits all night long too. Merritt finished with 11 points, six assists, and five steals. Curd joined Bozeman in the double-double department, by contributing 10 points, 10 dimes, and four steals.
"I can't tell you how much fun it is playing with R.T. and Ashton," Bozeman said of the two guards who routinely feed him the ball on the break so he can finish with the deuce. "They're both like big brothers to me. They've showed me the ropes these last two years. When we get in the open court together, we're dangerous. They set me up and let me make plays. I owe them a lot of credit for the kind of season I'm having."
Tevin Washington, another super sophomore forward like Bozeman, made it into double figures with 10 points and added five boards.
Going ahead 36-27 at halftime, the Eagles brought down the proverbial hammer midway through the second half, outscoring Sterling Heights 18-6 in a key stretch of the late-third and early-fourth quarter. In a sign of things to come, Madison opened the second half on an 8-0 run courtesy of two hoops apiece by Washington and Merritt.
The Stallions weren't dead yet though and made a ploy to get back into the game, responding with an 8-0 run of their own. After Julius Wade drained a 3-pointer and Ring slammed one home off a well-executed in-bounds play, Sterling Heights had the Eagles' lead trimmed down into single digits, at a score of 44-35.
Taking their opponents' scoring barrage in stride, Madison closed out the quarter in dominating fashion, running and gunning to a 52-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Back-to-back fast break baskets by Bozeman and Curd's twisting, double-pump lay-up off a steal ended the quarter's scoring onslaught. It didn't stop there, either. The Eagles kicked-off the game's final stanza with a 6-0 run that effectively took away the Stallions spirit.
Two more Bozeman buckets via the transition game made it 58-37 and Curd's floater in the lane ratcheted up the lead to 63-41 with 5:12 remaining.
Sterling Heights was led in the scoring column by Wade's 11 points. The loss moves the Stallions overall record to 5-7 on the year.
Eagles head coach, Steve Rhoads, in his first year on the job, likes the direction his team is headed in. "We play unselfish basketball and make the extra pass and that's why we're winning," he said. "We try to play quick, without hurrying, as the expression goes. There were still a little too many turnovers this game for my liking but we'll get that corrected in practice. These guys love to play the game and they play it with energy and enthusiasm. We're at a good place right now and hopefully we'll continue to get better."
A legend in local coaching circles since the 1970's, Rhoads is back on the sidelines after a 10 year absence from the head coaching ranks. Rhoads retired from his successful 30-year tenure at Berkley in 2000 after coaching such future professional athletes like Bruce Flowers (NBA-Knicks) and Aric Morris (NFL-Tennessee Titans). Brought out of retirement as an assistant coach in 2005 by ex-player, Brian Canfield, who had just taken over the program at Madison, Rhoads was on the bench for five consecutive conference championships and a district title win in 2008. Upon Canfield's departure last spring, Rhoads was hired as the Eagles new head coach and as evidenced by the current record hasn't let his team miss a beat.
"It feels good to be back," Rhoads said. "It's a different setting and a new community environment, but I embrace that. I look forward to helping bring the community and team together and keep building something special here just like we did in Berkley back in the day."


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