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Top-ranked OLSM uses outside shooting barrage to roll past Shamrocks in CHSL opener

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, January 14, 2020, 10:45 pm

NOVI — It went as well as could possibly have been expected for Novi Detroit Catholic Central.

For the better part of a quarter, at least.

The Shamrocks hit their first two shots, and forced Orchard Lake St. Mary’s into three turnovers in the first minute. CC’s match-up zone forced the Eaglets to  shoot from the outside. 

Everything that the Catholic Central coaching staff could’ve scripted for a start happened, but nevertheless … 

Slowly but surely, No. 1-ranked Orchard Lake St. Mary’s began to assert itself, pulling away for a running-clock, 94-55 win over the Shamrocks in Tuesday’s Catholic League contest.

“The first two possessions, we get a couple of baskets, and they get a couple of turnovers. I don’t know if they missed in the first half, but we competed. We went possession-for-possession. It’s how we wanted to start the game. We knew that if they stretched it out, we could be in trouble. We wanted to play a little bit of match-up zone, confuse them a little bit, make them shoot from the outside — which we did, but they just made shots,” CC coach Brandon Sinawi said. 

“We competed in that first quarter — I thought really in the first half, even though we were down eight or 10 at the half. Our kids came out and felt that we were going to compete in the game. We came out firing, just looking for any chance we could to make shots.

“Problem is, we can’t turn the ball over. If we turn the ball over, like we did tonight, not only is St. Mary’s going to beat us, but De La Salle, and Brother Rice, and everybody else in our league is going to do that to us.”

Forced into outside shooting, the Eaglets (7-0, 1-0 CHSL Central) just shrugged, and started nailing shots from the perimeter. 

“They (the Shamrocks) hit some shots — jiminy. They hit some shots. Most of them were pretty contested,” OLSM coach Todd Covert marveled. “They were playing a match-up zone, so we worked on it for a couple of days, and thought we could exploit a few things. You’ve still gotta make shots. Give all our kids credit, because they were locked in mentally for the last few days. Great film (study). Just doing all the little things that we’re going to have to do, if we’re going to do what we want to achieve.”

Five different Eaglets hit 3-pointers in the game, as OLSM went 10 for 19 from behind the arc in the first half, and 12 for 27 in the game. 

“That’s huge. I didn’t even know we hit that many,” Lorne Bowman II said. “Yeah, they came out and turned us over, but we got it together, and we were able to finish up the game here.”

Despite CC (2-4, 0-2 CHSL Central) scoring 21 first-quarter points, the Eaglets led by nine, 30-21, after one quarter, and pulled away in the final two minutes of the first half to lead by 20 at halftime, 52-32. A 15-2 run to start the third quarter all but put the game away. 

Bowman II led all scorers with 25 points, while Julian Roper II had 20, Jason Drake had 19 and Kareem Rozier had 14.

Despite the unblemished record to date, Bowman thought that Tuesday’s game might’ve been the first time the Eaglets put it all together.

“I would say this one. This one was very impressive, how we were able to put everything together. This is the first one where we really put everything together, team-wise,” the senior said. “When the season first starts, I think that’s every team’s biggest issue, just gelling, new guys playing with different guys, some people haven’t played yet, stuff like that. So we’re really coming together now, and playing as a team. …We’re playing really good basketball right now, gelling as team. We’re hitting the open guys. But I feel like our defense is our strongest suit. We like to turn over teams, and get out in transition and run. We like to play fast, and that’s what we’re doing at the beginning of the season.”

Once the Eaglets did get to flying up and down the court, it was hard for the Shamrocks to keep up. 

“They did a great job of playing 94 feet — and we didn’t want them to play 94 feet. We wanted them to play about 30 feet. They kind of imposed their style of play on us, and we didn’t do a good job of countering,” Sinawi said. “When we’re not making shots, and they’re getting easy transition points off rebounds — yeah, that’s their game. They’re really good at it, and they’ve got guys that can do it.”

Tyler Martinez hit a trio of 3-pointers in the quick first-quarter start, and finished with a team-high 16 points for CC, while Adam Noteman had 12.