Tag Archives: River Rouge

Muskegon Muscles Past River Rouge 68-50

6 Mar

3L9A9520A strenuous day of studies at school, a 200 mile bus trip, and a visit to the famed River Rouge “jungle.”

All three were obstacles facing Muskegon in the Big Reds’ twentieth and and final game of the year.  However, the state’s number two and defending Class A champion  prevailed for a 68-50 against Class B contender River Rouge, improving their record to 19-1.

The game was truly decided in the opening eight minutes.  After a sluggish start for both teams, the Big Reds led 7-4 with 2:40 left in the first.  From then on, Muskegon used a 12-3 spurt to close the quarter and led 19-7, a lead that would not be cut to single digits the rest of the contest.

Senior leadership can assist in neutralizing a hostile crowd.   Fortunately, Muskegon has the combination of Joeviair Kennedy and Michigan State bound Deyonta Davis to do so.  Davis led Muskegon with 20 points, 15 rebounds, and seven blocks, while Kennedy contributed 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Kennedy scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half to set the tempo for Muskegon.

“First-half is always good for me,” Kennedy said following the game.  “I always start out with a lot of energy.”

Muskegon would stretch their lead as much as 18 in the first half, leading 36-18 in the first half.  The Big Red defense stifled the Panther attack the entire night.  River Rouge was forced to settle for contested three-point and mid-range jump shots throughout the first half.  The Panther field-goal percentage was 20 percent in the opening 16 minutes.

Not much changed for the Big Reds in the second half, the only challenge for Muskegon was playing without Davis roughly two minutes in the third quarter.  Head coach Keith Guy was unhappy with Davis’ on-court presence, and took the challenge to sit his star big man.

“He’s going to have to take the message I give him,” Guy said, “or he’s going to sit.”  “I’m harder on him than I am anybody.”

The trip to the bench fueled Davis once Guy decided to place him back in the game.  Deyonta scored seven of his team-high 20 points in the final quarter alone, including a few impressive alley-oops, some of which were from Kennedy.

“Best one-two pouch in the state,” Guy said of Kennedy and Davis, “their unselfish, play for one another, they feed of one another.”

According to Guy, the Kennedy-Davis relationship extends far-beyond basketball.  It’s a unique brotherhood the two have formed the past four years.

“If I’m giving away snacks after practice, and one of them is not around, they’ll try to get the snack for each other.  It’s a brotherhood.”

The one positive performance for the Panthers was senior 6’7″ forward Jalen Gibson.  After only scoring one point in the first-half, Gibson took it on himself and provide a stand to the Big Red onslaught.  Gibson scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half, playing fearlessly against Davis.  Unfortunately for Gibson and Rouge, he picked up his fifth foul with 3:40 seconds remaining in the fourth.  Rouge had just cut the deficit to the smallest it was the second-half, 13 points.

Part of the Big Red defensive game-plan was to nullify River Rouge senior star guard LaMonta Stone.  Stone, a diminutive 5’8,” is one of the state’s most prolific scorers.  While Stone led his team with 17, he was 6-19 on the game, and scoreless the entire fourth quarter.

“One of the things we tried to do was keep him out of the paint,” Guy said.  “I think he goes to his left better than he does his right.  So we tried to force him a little bit to his right.  We wanted to make him volume shooter.”

Along with Kennedy and Davis, Muskegon’s role players had quiet yet productive games.  Darryl Kirkland and Michael Littlejohn were the primary ball-handlers and orchestrators of the offense.  The Big Reds committed just 10 turnovers the entire game, and only four in the first-half.  Littlejohn and Kirkland combined for 12 assists.

Although the Big Reds have won 47 of their past 48 games, the Big Reds have not gotten out much to show their talents across the state.  Aside from a trip to West Bloomfield in late December, the Big Reds’ farthest game from home has been in Grand Rapids.   Both Kennedy and Guy are adamant the challenges the team confronted today will only grow the team’s character once  the state tournament commences.

“This is as best a 20th game you can,” Guy added.  While Kennedy added “This is very hostile environment playing somewhere like this.  This is how it’s going to be in the playoffs.”

And about the potential for a Muskegon repeat in Class A, Kennedy isn’t shy.

“I say we’re going to do another repeat.”

Muskegon is next in action Wednesday beginning district semi-finals against either Muskegon Reeths-Puther or Mona Shores.  While Rouge hits the hardwood Monday against Henry Ford Academy with a final regular-season record of 15-5.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Snyder)

River Rouge Point Guard LaMonta Stone Pledges To Eastern Michigan

21 Feb

Whoever coined the phrase “the low-man wins in basketball,” must have been thinking of LaMonta Stone II.  The diminutive 5’8″ senior point guard, following a transfer from Bowling Green, Ohio, has been a vital piece behind River Rouge’s ascension from a combined 26-19 the previous two years to a contender in Class B with a 12-4 record in late February.  For the record, 26-19 is subpar for a school with 14 state titles.

The latest accomplishment for Stone was where he will continue his basketball career.  Which Stone decided, on his birthday, will be in Ypsilanti, for the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

LaMonta’s father, LaMonta Senior, like Junior, is in his first year at River Rouge.  Stone won the 1999 Class B state title while the head man for Rouge, then left the year after to coach in the college ranks.  LaMonta held assistant position at three different division one programs, one of which was Eastern Michigan.

“After going to a couple games,” Stone II added, “I like their style of play and the coaching staff.”

“I’ve had a really good relationship with Coach White (Benny) throughout my high school career.”

Stone said he decided on Eastern over U of D Mercy, Bethune-Cookman, and several division one institutions.  Given his short stature, Stone has had to excel in the intangibles necessary to smaller players at high-levels of basketball.  One of which is not quickly instilled into young players, toughness.

“The coaches like my toughness,” Stone also said.   “That’s a major thing to the EMU staff.”

Stone has been the backbone of the Panthers the entire year.  He’s averaged 23 points to go along with seven assists each night.  With his recruiting finished, Stone will now exert his full attention to assisting Rouge capture their 15th state title.

Beecher Extends Winning Streak To Seven Following 60-43 Win Against River Rouge

14 Feb

photo-10Flint Beecher and River Rouge, two schools with celebrated basketball prestige and tradition.  The two programs have combined for 19 MHSAA state championships, River Rouge 14 and Beecher five.

Rouge and Beecher last met in the 2012 Class C quarterfinals, Beecher won 59-55 en route to a state championship.

The latest meeting was another Beecher victory, a 60-43 outcome in the Buccaneers favor.

“It’s great,” Beecher sophomore point guard Malik Ellison following the victory.  “It’s a good tune up game that’s going to lead us to the tourney in March.”

Ellison led Beecher in scoring with 18 points, ten in the first-half.

“I think I played well,” Malik added.  “I picked my spots on the court and made my teammates available to score.”

Beecher led 15-14 at the end of the first.  Rouge would lead 23-21 with 3:38 before half, the last Panther lead of the game.  The Bucs finished the half on a 11-4 spurt for a 32-27 half-time advantage.

Panther senior point guard LaMonta Stone entered the night having scored at least 30 points in the team’s previous two contests against Romulus and Consortium.  The 5’9″ floor general struggled to find any form of offensive rhythm.  After making his first two shots of the game, Stone would only shoot 3-14 from the field the remainder of the first.

The man primarily responsible for guarding Stone was the 5’8″ Ellison.

“We played our tempo,” Ellison said the key was to neutralizing Stone.  “And boxed out. These are things we focus on for every game.”

Stone continued to struggle in the second-half.  He shot only 2-11 from the field in the second-half.  Along with senior forwards Maurice Witherspoon and Jalin Gibson repeatedly in foul trouble, the Panthers could not find a reliable secondary scorer to compliment Stone.  Beecher took advantage of the situation and built a ten point lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Bucs would outscore the Panthers 12-5 to five in the fourth quarter.  Methodically running their offense, limiting turnovers, and receiving the coveted 50/50 balls, Beecher was able to secure a victory and end Rouge’s five game winning streak.

Stone led the Panthers in scoring, but on 7-27 from the floor, the only Panther in double figures.  Aside from Ellison, 6’2″ senior Cedric Moten added 17 points, and 13 rebounds for Beecher against a taller and athletic Panther front-court.

“Ced (Moten) plays hard every game,” Ellison would say about his teammate.  “He’s our scrapper and energy guy.  He plays a huge factor for us, and he is the reason we are where we are.”

The Bucs are currently 14-1, and had outscored the opposition on average 73-47 entering the game against River Rouge.  In a statement game against a Class B contender, Ellison wants Michigan to know Beecher might be Class C, but can compete with anyone in the state.

“We don’t want to just be number one in Class C,” Ellison stated.  “We want the whole state to know we can compete with any class in the state.”

Strong Guard Play Assist River Rouge In 64-44 Win Against Allen Academy

14 Jan

mi-miriverrougehighschool-letter-150River Rouge senior guard Tracy Freeman is in his first year of competition as a Panther.  After sitting out last season, Freeman has made up the final member of an all senior starting lineup for Rouge led by longtime college assistant coach and 1999 state championship winner for the Panthers, Lamonta Stone.

Stone’s Panthers are off to an impressive 5-2 start on the season, with their latest victory against Michigan Metro League rival Detroit Allen Academy, avenging last season’s 72-55 setback.

“It feels really good to start league play off with a win,” said Freeman after the game.

Tracy set the tone early for Rouge, in a 7-0 Panther run with 5:43 left in the first quarter, Freeman scored five of his total 11 points.

“I played with a lot of emotion and intensity on the defensive end,” Tracy went onto say.  “Trying to get all the 50/50 balls, and my teammates involved.”

Freeman was a key contributor for Rouge in forcing Allen Academy into 21 turnovers on the night.  Tracy’s backcourt mate, and fellow senior Lamonta Stone Jr. also left his impact on the game as well.

The 5’9″ Stone scored eight points in a decisive second quarter for River Rouge, which saw the Panthers outscore Allen 23-6, building a 36-17 halftime advantage, a lead the Wildcats would never trim down below 16 for the remainder of the contest.  Stone finished with 18 points and nine assists on the evening.

“He played really well,” according to Freeman, “they threw everything they could at him and he didn’t get rattled one bit.”

“Controlled the game, and kept us poised.  Played like one of the best point guards in the state.”

Stone and Freeman controlled the pace and rhythm of the game, not to be outdone was 6’7″ senior power forward Jalin Gibson.  Gibson enforced his will in the paint with Allen Academy’s own 6’7″ forward Danny Pippen out with an apparent hand injury.  Jalin was just one rebound away from a double-double, with 11 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.

The triumvirate of Stone, Freeman, and Gibson were accountable for more than half of the Panther offense.  Freeman will take the win, but acknowledges the depth of the 2014-2015 Panthers.

“We are going to need a lot more from Amir Poole, Mateeya Jones, and Maurice Witherspoon.  We have a starting six that has to be clicking.”

The resurgence of River Rouge is a direct correlation to the return Coach Stone has had on the program in his first months back.  As one of the most successful programs in the State of Michigan, the past two seasons for Rouge were well below Panther standards, a combined 26-19.  Aside from win and losses, the impact Coach Stone has, according to his players, extends greater than basketball.

“He (Coach Stone) has meant a lot to me personally,” Freeman said.  “I’m playing the best basketball of my life right now and in the best shape.”

“He is really helping the community.  (The Panthers) never had this much support from the city of River Rouge, they show much love.”

Lamonta Stone Returns to River Rouge as Head Coach

5 Sep

mi-miriverrougehighschool-letter-150Few programs across the State of Michigan have the prestige and winning pedigree as River Rouge does.  Under the direction of Lofton Greene, head coach from 1945 through 1984, the Panthers captured 12 of their 14 Class B state titles, including five straight from 1961-1965, while amassing a 739-231 overall record.

The last of the Panthers’ two titles came in 1998 and 1999, with Lamonta Stone at the helm, and guard Brent Darby, who later went onto star at Ohio State University and eventually overseas before dying of blood clot related issues.

Stone makes his return to the Panther sideline for the 2014-2015 campaign after collegiate assistant coaching stints at Eastern Michigan, Ohio State, and Bowling Green State University.

Coach Stone replaces Bobby Thompson.  Thompson decided to step-down from the program after four seasons in which he went 60 and 32 during his time at Rouge, the best season being a 19-5 record in the 2011-2012 campaign competing in Class C and losing to eventually champion Flint Beecher in the quarterfinals.

Allen Academy Tops River Rouge 72-55

9 Feb

70743612After holding a narrow 28-25 lead at halftime in a tightly contested rivalry game, the Wildcats of Allen Academy were able to hold off River Rouge in the second half of play to up their record to 14-1 on the season and a perfect 5-0 in the Michigan Metro Conference.

“It’s always good to win a game like that, especially when the other opponent is talking trash,” said Allen Academy senior guard Pakiya Ellis.

Ellis and sophomore guard Jason Williams both scored 27 points on the night, with Williams dropping seven assists, and Pakiya hauling down eight rebounds and swiping five steals.

“We played great today,” Ellis had to say about his and Williams’ performance, “I mean Jason is going to get his basket, he’s one of the best point guards in the State of Michigan hands down.  I just try to play my game and let others feed off of me, just good team basketball for us.”

Craving an upset, Rouge came out hot to start the game, leading 15-14 after one, in a first quarter which saw Ellis score 11 points and three three-pointers in the opening.  After a sluggish second quarter for both teams, it was the sophomore Williams taking the game over in the third.  The 5’9″ Williams scored 15+ of his 27 points in the third to give Allen 47-36 lead after three, with his jump-shot not falling the way it normally does, Williams knew he had to attack the basket, get to the free-throw line, and set up his teammates in order to be successful on the night.  Allen was able to keep Rouge and bay in the fourth, not letting the Panthers get the lead into single digits the entire period.

In a Class C with the likes of Detroit Consortium and Mt. Clemens at the top, the Wildcats are right where they want to be, under the radar, picking up momentum and improving everyday for district play which starts in less than a month.

“Season is going good for us,” Ellis noted.  “We just build off the games we have played and try to keep the confidence up and practice as hard as possible.”

Jalen Gibson led River Rouge with 21 points and 18 rebounds.

Top Power Forwards in the Area

13 Jun

The 2014 class is loaded with quality talent at the forward position.  The Metro Detroit area contains big men that can shoot, reb0und, defend, and pass.  The majority of these kids all ready have offers, so it is not like they are sneeking up on anybody.

9258651. Jaylen Johnson (Ypsilanti/ Dorians Pride) 6’9″ 210 lbs- Mr. Johnson’s stock has risen to another level this offseason.  Coming into the high school season, only regional schools knew about him.  But after dominating the Spring portion of AAU and the highly prestigious Pangos All-American Camp, Jaylen has hauled in offers from Oregon, North Carolina State, Iowa State, and Maryland, just naming a few.  The smooth moving forward controls the glass with outstanding athleticism, but what makes college coaches drool is his ability to control the paint.  Look for Johnson to gain in more high-major offers as the Summer goes on.

11865862. Justin Tillman (Detroit Pershing/ Reach Legends) 6’8″ 190 lbs – Justin missed more than half of the high school season due to a foot injury.  But looks to be making up for the missing time this past Spring.  Justin is super athletic, finishing above the rim with highlight reel dunks are put back tip ins, and can step out to the perimeter to make a couple of jump shots.  On the defensive end, Justin makes opponents think twice about putting the shot up, and hauls down rebounds in bunches.  Justin so far has received seven mid-major offers, including the likes of Bowling Green, Toledo, Oakland, and Indiana State.

Jamal Poplar3. Jamal Poplar (River Rouge/ Michigan Mustangs) 6’8″- Jamal transferred from Willow Run this past season so he had to sit out the first portion of the season.  But came back strong, which has transitioned nicely into the AAU season.  Poplar has the ability to play all five positions on the court.  Jamal can shoot up to the three point arch, get to the basket off the dribble from the perimeter, handle the ball in the open court, and finish through contact at the rim.  Jamal will be a solid high major prospect by the time high school season get under way.

yante4. Yante Maten (Lahser/ The Family) 6’8″ 210 lbs- Yante has a variety of skills on the basketball court he can use to beat a defender.  Maten can stretch you to the three point line, use his athleticism to go over you, or seal you off creating angles to use with his back to the basket.  Yante so far has offers from Oakland, U of D, Kent State, and Eastern Michigan.

5. Isaac Bowles (Cass Tech/ Judges Court) 6’7″ 215 lbs- Simply put, a rebounding machine. Isaac, before transferring to Cass Tech the second semester from Cezar Chavez Academy, had 38 rebounds in a game, good enough to be put in the state record books.

6. Andre Frederick (Detroit Douglass/ Michigan Hurricanes) 6’7″- What stands out to me about Frederick’s game is that he is a very active defender with quick footwork that is used to block shots.  Even if you are a guard on the perimeter, you better watch out for Frederick.  Andre is very good around the basket finishing with either hand, and uses his big body to carve out space down low.  Andre has a couple MAC offers as of now.

Follow me on Twitter: @mdhsathletics

Playoff Preview (part two cont.)

4 Mar

Class B Teams That Can Make A Run

River Rouge- Rouge is now back to full strength now after getting star forward Jamal Poplar back, who had to sit out the first semester after transferring from Willow Run.  Alongside Poplar is fellow junior Terrell Crawford.  Crawford is a raw scoring off-guard who just simply can score.  Rouge starts off in the Divine Child District, where they are faced with probably meeting up with Dearborn Heights Robichaud in the finals.  If Rouge is able to get past Robichaud, I see a path at least to the quarters.

Robichaud- As above stated, will be in the same district with River Rouge.  But don’t put anything past Robichaud as long as they have Lorenzo Bonam.  Bonam is a strong, physical point guard that can make plays.  Will have to get past Rouge in the district final.

Detroit Country Day- Might be the deepest team in the entire state.  The back court is made up of Lehigh bound Austin Price, who might have the smoothest jump shot in the area.  Complementing Price in the backcourt will be lighting fast junior point guard Edmond Sumner.  Who can go from zero to full speed in about a step.  Fellow junior Mory Diane will bring more athleticism to table and a another scorer.  Down low for the Yellow Jackets will be Texas Tech football recruit Poet Thomas, and glass eater Deshawn Lewis.  The reserves for DCD don’t lack talent as well.  Star football receiver Maurice Ways and Maceo Baston make up the bench, starters at any other school expect DCD.

Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy- Now during playoff time, some teams like to give the ball to their star players and let them do the rest.  CPA will have Michigan commit Derrick Walton to give the ball to and that is not a bad idea to do.  Derrick can go for 30 points and 10 assists any given night.  CPA will need another scorer to take pressure off Derrick, and Darius Bean will have to step up if CPA wishes to make it farther than last year’s 30 point embarrassment to DCD in the regional final.

Detroit Douglass- The funny thing is, that DCD, CPA, and now Douglass, all teams that can make it to at least the quarters, will all be paired up if they get past their respective districts into the same DCD regional.  Though low on bodies, Douglass makes up for it in talent.  Led by junior point Darrell Davis, a serious D1 recruit, Douglass has a true playmaker on the court.  If paired up with DCD, the post will be won by Douglass because of junior Andre Frederick.  Frederick is quick on his feet a real shot blocker even on the perimeter.  Junior Terrell Hale will be needed for secondary scoring in order to take pressure off from Davis.

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