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BOYS BASKETBALL: Bloomfield Hills burns rubber, zooms past North Farmington in 3rd quarter of big OAA match-up

By: Scott Burnstein, January 24, 2014, 9:00 am

FARMINGTON HILLS – The holler summed it up accurately.

Midway through the fourth quarter of Bloomfield Hills’ key OAA Red battle on the road Thursday at North Farmington, Bloomfield Hills senior forward Khalil Gracey screamed “Knockout” after he buried a triple to put his squad ahead by 21 points.

It was a microcosm of the way Gracey and his teammates performed in the final 16 minutes of action.

Bloomfield Hills delivered knockout blow after knockout blow in the second half to run away with a 73-51 victory, turning a tight game into a laugher in a matter of minutes.

The Black Hawks’ spun a magic trick for the ages in the third quarter, making a two-point deficit disappear and then reappear as an 18-point lead four minutes later.

Gracey’s 3, which had followed his vicious two-handed jam off a steal on the right sideline, gave Bloomfield Hills (9-1, 4-1) a commanding 62-41 advantage on the scoreboard with 4:14 left on the clock.

He was one of four Black Hawks’ players to chart double-figures in the scoring column, going for 10 points to add to 10 rebounds. Senior combo guard Armand Cartwright tallied a game-high 27 points and senior center Yante Maten tacked on a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. Pacing the Bloomfield Hills’ bench barrage, junior shooting guard Cameron Dalton notched 13 points, four steals and three assists.

"The whole game for us was about defense, we were feeding off the turnovers we were creating," Cartwright said.

Bloomfield Hills forced North Farmington into 27 turnovers, 11 in the crucial third quarter.

A free throw by Dalton in the closing seconds of the first half provided the Black Hawks a slim 28-27 lead heading into the locker room.

The third quarter was a Bloomfield Hills’ avalanche, the team’s offense and defense working in complimentary precision.

The combination proved deadly.

North Farmington (7-2, 3-2) snuck ahead for a brief period in the third, 33-31,but it was the calm before the storm.

Dalton’s 3 pushed Bloomfield Hills into a 34-33 lead at the 4:02 mark of the third quarter. Five straight points by Maten chased by five straight points from Cartwright put North Farmington firmly on the ropes and gasping for air.

Cartwright’s basket off a Dalton steal in the final moments of the third made it 54-36 heading down the stretch.

That’s when Gracey got the fourth quarter going with his own personal five-point scoring surge and pretty much turned the lights out on the North Farmington attack.

“We were firing on all cylinders tonight,” Bloomfield Hills head coach Duane Graves said. “We were playing with tons of heart, hustle and passion and those kind of things get you wins like this.”

Graves and his club are in second place in the OAA Red and is set to tangle with first-place Clarkston in their next game Tuesday at home.

Junior forward Jeron (Buddha) Rogers of North Farmington topped all scorers on the night, netting 28 points and clearing 10 rebounds.

After opening the season 7-0, the Raiders are on a losing skid, having dropped two straight, both coming in league action.

"They (Bloomfield Hills) were tougher than us tonight, that was the bottom line," North Farmington head coach Todd Negoshian said. "We didn’t have any fight in us and we were out-executed plain and simple."