Hazel Park hopes to rise to new heights and become relevant in Class B
Hazel Park – Keep your fingers’ crossed Hazel Park fans. This could be the season your boys basketball team achieves a level of success not seen at this southern Oakland County school in over a half century..
Not since 1965 have the Vikings won a district title and last season there were signs that that elusive goal could finally be achieved.
Hazel Park won the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division title in 2016-17, the program’s first title in league or conference competition in 21 years. This success didn’t go unnoticed. OAA members voted to move Hazel Park two divisions, to the White Division, for this season.
Brandon Barrett is in fourth season as Hazel Park’s head coach and the Vikings have made significant progress in his brief tenure. Hazel Park won one game during the 2012-13 season then won eight games the next season, Barrett’s first. Last season Hazel Park finished 14-8 losing to one of the top teams in Class B, Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern, 90-63, in a district semifinal at Collegiate Prep.
“We’re excited to play in the White,” Barrett said. “We looked forward to the competition. I’ve upgraded our nonleague schedule, too.”
Collegiate Prep returns four starters from a team that lost to Detroit Henry Ford, the eventual state champion, in a regional semifinal, 63-56, and is again considered one of the top teams in Class B.
Hazel Park also returns four starters and the good news for Barrett and his team is that they are not in Collegiate Prep’s district this season. Hazel Park will host a seven-team district with the likes of Detroit Mumford, Ferndale, Ferndale University and Detroit-Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, which boasts one of the state’s top juniors, the 6-8 Trevion Williams, whom State Champs ranks as the No. 7 player regardless of class. The district appears to be wide open with no clear-cut favorite.
Barrett also has a tall post player. Kristian Lafayette is a 6-10 senior who Barrett said is being recruited by Oakland and Wayne State among others.
Hazel Park’s best players are guards, with all due respect to Lafayette.
Carl Bow, Jr., Dave Hearns and Devon Pettus are all juniors and all have started for three seasons at the guard spot.
Hazel Park opened the season by crushing Southfield for the Arts and Technology, a Class A school ranked No. 2 in the preseason, 76-57.
“The lights are starting to come on,” Barrett said. “The type of program I’ve tried to build is a hard-working one. The credit to (the players) is they’ve put in a lot of work in the offseason.
“Basketball at Hazel Park? Not many think of us that way. We’re a wrestling school. Our players play with a chip on their shoulder. We use that as motivation. Our goal is to win a state title. It’s good to set your goals high.
“That’s the buzz going around. Where did Hazel Park come from?”
Perhaps the better question is, where is this program headed?