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BOYS BASKETBALL: Detroit Country Day wowing the critics with unique line-up

By: Scott Burnstein, January 6, 2013, 10:00 am

BEVERLY HILLS – It sounds weird to say, but Birmingham Detroit Country Day snuck up on people on the boys basketball court this year.

Entering the 2013 campaign, perennial powerhouse Country Day, was overlooked in the polls, failing to dot many experts’ preseason rankings.

The Yellowjackets don’t have a traditional line-up – especially for Country Day, which for the last three decades have almost always had college-level point guards and post players at the core of its attack.

This season they don’t have either. The majority of the Yellowjackets rotation is between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4 and there is no pure point guard quarterbacking the offense.

Nonetheless, what they are is athletic, deep, fast, and long and as a result they’ve proven quite the match-up nightmare for opponents.

After the first week of the New Year, the Yellowjackets are undefeated, sporting a sparkling 8-0 record while averaging close to 85 points per game.

Legendary Country Day head coach Kurt Keener, who has raised eight state championship banners in over 30 years on the sidelines – his last in 2010 -, is enjoying the change of dynamics on the floor.

“We’re having fun playing small ball, mixing it up a little from what we’ve been known for doing in the past,” he said. “These guys play hard, smart and with a lot of energy and that’s translated into some early success.”

Most of Keener’s 2013 roster were members of the Yellowjackets state semifinal team last season. That experience is bearing fruit.

“This team has the knowledge, the blueprint for what it takes to get to the Breslin Center (annual site of the MHSAA final four), and they have the desire and right attitude to implement it in the win column,” Keener said.

Senior guard Austin Price is the team’s captain and the consummate competitor. He will be playing in college next year at Lehigh.

Joining Price in the speedy and active Country Day backcourt are fellow Division I recruits Edmond Sumner (6-foot-3) and Maury Diane (6-foot-2), two of the state’s top prospect in the Class of 2014. Sophomore Deshawn Lewis (6-foot-4), a spry and hard-nosed small forward, is also a Division I recruit on the wing.

Junior forwards Maurice Ways and Christian Wright and senior center Poet Thomas hold things down in the post. Both standing 6-foot-3, but playing considerably taller, Mays and Wright form the Yellowjackets’ starting frontcourt. Thomas, a beefy, yet agile 6-foot-7, 300-pound Division I football recruit, comes off the bench and could be the best post reserve in Oakland County.

Like Thomas, Ways will be playing big-time Division I college football after he graduates from Country Day. Back in the fall, Ways, an all-state wide receiver and Thomas, an all-state lineman, led the Yellowjackets football team into the state finals.

On the hardwood, Country Day is in search of its fourth consecutive trip to the final four.