Mt. Clemens Makes Statement
Inside Prep Sports/By TJ Kelley
Zero-zero, a fresh start, whether it's on the clock or the beginning of the season. Preseason expectations, contenders, pretenders, freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors and a clean slate, but things are a little different when a smaller school like Mt. Clemens is a preseason top ten team regardless of class. Smaller only means school population but not size on the court where the Bathers have the height to compete with anyone in the paint and quality guards that control the tempo.
Tuesday night was the opener for Class C Mt. Clemens and the Class A host Detroit King. While the game was back and forth in the first quarter, one might be able to see that Mt. Clemens was just that much deeper, that much taller, and played more like they were out to prove something rather than defend something. Mt. Clemens led after each quarter: 15-11, 32-24, 54-44, and 76-54 final. Unlike Mt. Clemens, King will see much of the same type of competition in the PSL East while Mt. Clemens, if they play anywhere near how they played Monday night, should roll through the MAC-Gold.
If it could be said there was a weakness for Mt. Clemens it would be their free throw shooting where they were 26-44 from the stripe but eleven of those misses were from two of their leading scorers, 6' 2015 guard Josh McFolley and 6'7" 2015 center Gerald Blackshear, jr. 17 of McFolley's Mt. Clemens' high were from the perimeter and he'll shoot it from anywhere as he proved with a 35-foot attempt in the third quarter. Blackshear came off the bench and was one of five Bathers in double-figures while leading the team in rebounding with eight. All of his field goals came from the block off lefty and righty hooks, put-backs, or dunks.
6'7" 2015 small forward Charles Penn III is the slasher, athlete with the mid-range game who added 15 and like Blackshear and McFolley is receiving mid-major looks. 6'2" 2014 wing Devonte' Bandoo added twelve in a variety of ways including a monster dunk near the end of the first quarter followed by a pair of threes. 6'6" 2015 power forward Dorian Armstrong got the start and was a monster on the boards early with six and as many points in the game. Then there's 5'6" 2017 point guard Jermaine Jackson, jr. who got to the basket when he wanted on his way to ten points and a perfect 6-6 from the stripe. He has the basketball IQ, leadership qualities, and skill, so as soon as the vegetables kick in, Jackson, jr. will match the SMU offer and others he's received prior to him playing a varsity game.
All of the Mt. Clemens players mentioned above are scholarship players on either the D1, D2, or NAIA level. Mt. Clemens has a couple of games in the Motor City Roundball Classic vs. Cincinnati (OH.) Withrow and Chicago (IL.) Hyde Park on December 27th and 29th.
Detroit King had height and depth problems as their best player, 6'6" 2014 guard Tyrone Acuff, jr., was the team's leading rebounder with seven while scoring 15 points. He was able to score when getting to the basket which he did frequently but like the rest of his teammates his mid-range and perimeter shot wasn't falling at the pace coach Pierre Brooks would prefer. 6'3" 2015 wing Armani Lee was 1-5 from behind the arc on his way to twelve points and like the rest of his team had to battle on the boards with taller opponents as he ended the night with six off the glass. The only other height King had was 6'5" 2016 small forward David Syfax, playing in his first varsity game, ended the game with zero points, four rebounds, and fouled out.
King's saving grace was All-State football player 6'2" 2014 forward Dayvon Austin who led all scorers with 23-points going through, around, and over traffic in the paint while making a couple of mid-range jumpers. There aren't many tougher players in the state with the motor and skill that he has, but football is his calling.
Follow Inside Prep Sports on twitter @ScoopIPS