Face the music: Swartz Creek downs Holly in clash of Metro powers

Posted: February 6, 2010 by Jared Field in High School

HOLLY, Michigan – After Friday night’s battle between two of the Flint Metro League’s best teams, it won’t be easy for Swartz Creek to root for Holly the rest of the way.

But, they will.

After Swartz Creek’s 63-59 win over the Bronchos, my preseason pick to win the conference, the Dragons will need to run the table and hope that Holly has enough left in the tank to beat a one-loss Fenton squad. And it’d be just like Holly to do it.

Swartz Creek entered the locker room at halftime nursing an eight-point lead and jumped out early in the third. The Dragons, who beat Holly in their prior meeting, led by as many as 13 in the quarter before the Bronchos charged back.

Holly cut Swartz Creek’s lead to five, then to three and finally to one; but, every Holly challenge was met by a timely steal, clutch basket or free throw. In the final seconds, senior forward Trevor Black snared the rebound on a missed Justin Fowler 3-pointer to seal the victory.

Swartz Creek celebrated at mid-court like they’d just won the conference championship.  Now only time will tell if they did.

Game notes

– Swartz Creek’s senior point guard Cody Campbell is, without question, the best player in the Flint Metro League. No one, I suspect, would even question that anymore. Just one week after torching Fenton for 25 points, Campbell scored 16 points with six assists to lead the Dragons to victory. All that while being guarded by Holly senior Thomas Lovachis, the most athletic player I’ve seen in the Metro League since Lapeer East’s Steve Wilmers. He had an off night, with only eight points, but he has the physical tools to dominate this league. I was just waiting for him to do it. (I must say I don’t ever remember seeing a goal-tending violation in the FML.)

– If Swartz Creek had, let’s just say, an above average ballhandler in lieu of Cody Campbell, they lose that game by double-digits. He’s got the ball on a yo-yo. Swartz Creek had a whopping ONE TURNOVER in the first half. In the game’s final minutes, Campbell must have dribbled off 90 seconds of clock time. He’s the only elite ballhandler I’ve seen in the five seasons I’ve covered this conference.

– Campbell’s outstanding performance aside, the player of the game in my mind is Swartz Creek’s senior forward Trevor Black. In the arena of mental toughness, this kid has a box seat right next to Evil Knievel. He drew his second foul just two minutes into the game and was forced to sit the bench for much of the first half. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen players check out of games mentally due to foul trouble — he wasn’t one of them. Black came back to score 13 points including a 3-pointer that he won’t soon forget. Senior forwards Ethan Brouwer and Logan Hull also turned in solid efforts. Hull had 15 points, eight rebounds and three key blocks. Brouwer had eight points and eight rebounds. He missed some shots down low that he normally makes, but he looked confident attacking the basket.

– It was a disappointing night for the Bronchos. Of their big-name players, only one played well: Senior forward Lance Hopkin. Little about his game is pretty, but Hopkin just gets the job done. He was active on the glass and extremely efficient offensively. He led all scorers with 18 points. Senior guard Justin Fowler, one of the top scorers in the conference, fought his outside shot all game but still managed to finish with 14 points. He made several impressive (and very aggressive) drives to the basket tonight. That’s a part of his game that I’m sure many are unfamiliar with.

– I noticed that there were angry Holly fans and coaches after the game, and I think the anger was unfounded. Some Holly folks were upset that the Swartz Creek players celebrated their victory at center court after the final buzzer. In this situation, the kids acted like kids, which is understandable — they just won a big game. But how do you explain adults acting like kids? Holly did some celebrating before the game and Swartz Creek did some after. No big deal.

– Holly really does big games up right. They turn off all the lights, cue the DJ and announce the names (and nicknames) of all 15 players on the roster. They even have the pep band play the anthem and a guy in a fright wig play fake guitar to Guns and Roses. Personally, I think it’s all great. It’s fun for the kids and just adds to the already great atmosphere of that gym. For the Swartz Creek folks who were bothered by it, I say loosen up. I’ve been to numerous Metro League gyms that don’t even have an announcer to let fans know who scores.

Play of the game: My play of the game probably should go to Lovachis’ acrobatic first half lay-up, but to the victor goes the spoils. Aaron Wascha gets the play of the game for running down Lovachis (who everyone in the gym knew was going to slam the ball with two hands) and putting a hard-foul stamp on his forehead. It was not intentional or flagrant, only decisive. That’s what players with pride do.

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Comments
  1. unknown says:

    that’s ridiculous, defiantly a intentional. But yea your probably right, trying to hurt somebody because they have a wide open dunk shows a lot of pride. That could of been a lot serious than it ended up being.

    • Jared Field says:

      Unknown: Guys like you really really further the stereotype about the Metro League being soft. You see that kind of play every game in the city.

      Yeah, he intentionally tried to prevent a dunk. How can you just assume he was trying to hurt him? There was a referee right there and he didn’t think it was flagrant or intentional. And yeah, it is called toughness. I was pretty happy to see it in the FML, a league not known for it.

      • cam says:

        The Metro League is soft because someone is concerned about a dirty play? Lovachis sprinted up the court full speed and another player (while lovachis was in mid air) grabbed each shoulder and threw him down. Lovachis was on the court for two minutes after smashing his head… then got up and finished the game. That’s not toughness? You must be Rambo or something. And what happens in the City, are there fights on the court, dirty fouls? Just cause it’s a different venue doesn’t mean the rules change. Haha you said yourself this stuff never happens in the FML; so why is that a bad thing????

      • Jared Field says:

        Hey Cam: There are two photos of your so-called “dirty play” on the front page right now. There’s no shame in being wrong, I just hope you’re adult enough to admit it. A lot of young people read this site.

        http://greatlakeshoops.com/2010/02/07/judge-for-yourself-is-this-dirty-basketball/

      • cam says:

        The photos are too clear for me to tell. Lets just say I have inside information… and know the players well enough that were ya know… playing in the game, watching as thomas was grabbed. Looking at a blurry pic like that is really good evidence. Glad you made your decision off of something so decisive.

      • Jared Field says:

        Yeah. He must have pulled him down by the basketball.

        Inside information?

        Do you want me to get the video and post that too, or would you rather just rely on your inside information?

        This is pretty embarrassing, Cam. Seriously, I don’t blame you for withholding your last name.

      • cam says:

        Why use video when the game was right in front of me? And would my last name really make my statements any more or less valid? You’re running out of counter arguments which has resulted in you going on a tangent. The original argument was about a foul, not what comes after my first name. Nice try though ;)

      • Jared Field says:

        Nah. Not really. I’ve dealt with homer fans for years. You’re pretty typical. It’s embarrassing, really. You’re looking at that picture and you know there’s no way that player wrenched Lovachis down to the floor by his shoulders.

        Let me know when you finally track down hard evidence of the first moon landing.

        You know the old saying: “A picture is worth 1,000 counter arguments.”

      • cam says:

        Yea, that is an old saying, real old. Nowadays we have things called computers and video cameras that give us a little more than a thousand arguments. Slow motion video > blurry pictures (though worth 1,000 arguments). I’ve seen the video, many times in slow motion. Do you think i just went on this forum without seeing any evidence then got into an argument about it? Lovachis was pulled down from the shoulder period. Photographers take thousands of pictures for an action that occurs in one second. You have two blurry images from a video that you’re too afraid to post because he was pulled down shortly after those two grade-A photos. Ha you’re going on a tangent again, didn’t know the moon had anything to do with it. You sound upset, just keep your chin up ;).

      • Hoops24 says:

        Wow…40 comments over a Metro game. This has to be a first!

      • Jared Field says:

        Honest to God, I was waiting for that exact comment. Nice work! Ha.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “I was pretty happy to see it in the FML.” So Jared, what you’re saying is that it makes you happy to see kids get hurt. That’s big of you. It was overly obvious that Lovachis was in a considerable amount of pain, and I honestly find it quite troubling that plays like this bring you pleasure. Since kids get thrown down “every game” in the city obviously means so should kids in this league. Did you ever think that maybe the FML is proud to have teams that don’t play as dirty as teams in the city? There’s a fine line between toughness/physicality and poor sportsmanship.

    It was a smart foul for Swartz Creek, yes, the way this particular player went about his foul was not. Lovachis would have scored an assured 2 points, the energy in the Holly gym would have soared, and the momentum would have swung. However, there are numerous different ways to intentionally prevent a dunk than grabbing a player by his shoulders and throwing him to the ground.

    You bring up the referees being right on top of the play, do you really find it fair to call the specific individuals officiating this game “referees?” I saw some of thee worst calls I’ve personally ever seen at this level of competition. This is high school basketball Mr. Field, and a lot of these kids are not even 100% physically developed. So if concussions, spinal injuries, and ruined senior seasons are what make you happy covering high school basketball maybe you should consider covering UFC instead.

    • Jared Field says:

      Man. I wish I had a violin to softly play behind that post, anonymous.

      Lovachis is a tough kid. He got back up and hit two free throws. He played the rest of the game. End of story.

      I’m never happy to see anyone get hurt — and did he really get hurt? I do, however, appreciate hustle and pride. I guess he should have just watched as Lovachis swung the momentum for his team.

      You’re wearing rose colored glasses, John Doe.

      City basketball isn’t dirty — it’s real basketball. It’s physical and aggressive. In the city, Big Nine, CAAC, etc., they don’t blow the whistle on contact — any contact — as is the norm in the Metro League.

      Do you know why the Metro doesn’t send players to the next level? Think about it and get back with me. It’s a class A conference for God’s sake.

      I, for one, am happy to see Swartz Creek succeeding. They play man-to-man, they press and really get after it on defense.

      Also, Holly fans didn’t seem to be complaining about the officiating in the first half. I believe there was less than a minute left in the half before Holly was whistled for its second foul. I think Creek had nine at that time.

      I saw at least two poor calls made against Holly in the second half, but the game wasn’t decided by those calls.

      Make shots. Make plays. Make free throws.

      Don’t make excuses.

      • Wow…there is no comparison between the city and the metro that would make the metro look good, perhaps outside of shooting. The last player on Northern’s bench would dominate in the metro. Why? Toughness. Simple.

      • Jared Field says:

        Marcellus:

        I’m going to respectfully disagree with that for a few reasons:

        1.) The last player on Northern’s bench might not have the opportunity to dominate anything if he’s not eligible.
        2.) Some city players are still living off the reputation made by so many before them. City players are nowhere near as tough as they used to be. That being said, the point is made: it is much tougher basketball. Many of those kids have no choice but to be tough, mentally and physically.
        3.) There isn’t a Cody Campbell or Thomas Lovachis on the end of any bench, at any high school, anywhere in this state.

        This is a tough season to make arguments for the city. It’s bad man. Buctown lost its two best players to transfers and they still beat the city’s best team. That should never happen. Typically when a high school is closed, and there is more of a consolidation of talent, there arises a really good team. That didn’t happen for Flint.

      • It Ain't Right says:

        Well you would think that school would be northern because they got all the kids…

      • That would make sense, except they weren’t good at Central…

      • That includes Williams-Taylor who only now is everyone saying is a good player. So he seemed to have gotten better…at Northern. But maybe he was already good, and Central’s coach was bad as well which is why they never did anything. It can’t be both.

      • Except for when the high school that closed was bad to begin with and lost its best player as it closed. Further, I said the last player would dominate, not be the best player in the conference. Oh yeah, that city team also lost its two best players from last year. On top of that, we saw a city team beat who many said was the best in the area. Oh yeah, that team lost all but 2 of their players from the previous season, while the team they beat, Powers, retained 3 of their top 5 while gaining one of Beecher’s best.

        Point is, on any given day a team can win a single game. It means little until it happens in the playoffs for both the teams that won and the ones that lost. This season is the best one to make arguments for the city in my eyes. No one had Magee and Parks ranked at the top and many thought they would struggle this year. 11-4 show that hasn’t been the case. Many thought SWA would struggle and that is true, but they were depleted by losing their best all around player and their best athlete to transfers. Not many thought Graham would be a top scorer in the area, but he is. Many thought Northern would be great through osmosis I suppose, yet they had to assimilate 10 new guys to the mix, including 2 freshmen. The win versus Powers showed the replinishment process has begin to sink in. We are talking about programs that play elite level schedules every year versus a league where a freshman guard can average double figures and lead his Lapeer team when he couldn’t even crack the lineup when he played with the players from the city.

        This is the best year for comparison because it speaks to the depth of talent in the city. Yes, Cody and Thomas could play and do well in the city, there is no doubt. But how well would the Josh Young, Chuck McLaurin, Richie Lewis, Dewrell Tisdale, Darrell Williams, Don Lewis, Cam Lefear, Marquez Poole, Willis Arrington, Charles Morgan, Ahaseurus McDonald, etc. do in the Metro? And that’s not mentioning any of those teams best players.

        On ANY given day a team can win a single game. Over the course of a season will a player dominate. Beecher lost there best two, but gained one of the best freshmen in the area as well.

      • play the game says:

        Wow, for a school (Holly) that plays dirty in football and basketball there sure is a lot of whinning going on about a foul that was totally necessary. I have seen many kids get taken down with fouls and if you can’t take it and are worried about getting hurt DON’T PLAY. There was no intention on hurting anyone with that foul but sometimes it happens. Talk about no class,the Holly coach is one of the most classless coaches I have ever seen. I have a feeling he is probably not well liked among other coaches also. Swartz Creek out played Holly so get over it.

  3. John Doe says:

    Seriously? A flagrant foul as the play of the game?? I don’t think “Anonymous” is questioning the play so much as your pathetic support of it. Get a clue man & stop rewarding kids for playing like the thugs their coach appears to be.

    You clearly weren’t at the game otherwise you wouldn’t have been in any awe of the “goal tending” call made on Lovachis, known that the whole pre-game festivities weren’t due to it being a big game (something the Swartz Creek players gracefully interrupted), and there wouldn’t be any discussion going on here about whether the foul was intentional or not.

    Or maybe that is that your thing… you try and stir the pot to get someone to try and read your little articles. Grow up.

    • Jared Field says:

      I’m not impressed by your veiled boldness, John Doe.

      The difference between your opinion and mine is simple: I don’t have a horse in the race.

      I picked Holly to win the conference each of the last two seasons. I picked Swartz Creek to lose to Fenton last week. I picked Thomas Lovachis to be the FML’s best player. Heck, I’m the guy who introduced Lovachis to the Flint Area: http://greatlakeshoops.com/2009/12/07/lowdown-holly-impact-transfer-thomas-lovachis/

      In other words, I’m not a homer. Further, I know both coaches very well and have a great deal of respect for both. Calling Coach Trent a thug is childish and disrespectful. Here’s a guy who learned the game under two of the most respected coaches ever in Genesee County: Steve Schmidt and Rory Mattar. If he’s a thug, where do I sign up?

      Again, I wasn’t offended by the pre-game stuff, like I said. That Homecoming (or Snowcoming or whatever) stuff is done at a lot of schools. The big production after that was unique, and that’s one of the reasons I liked it.

      And again, stop calling it a flagrant foul. There was an unbiased observer (called a referee) right there and he didn’t think it was flagrant. So yeah, the play of the game. I don’t know the kid, never met him, but somehow I don’t think a kid that might weigh 150 pounds would intentionally try to injure Thomas Lovachis. He was trying to prevent and easy basket. There are a lot of players who would have stood and watched for fear of getting posterized. He didn’t. I admire that.

      • Jared Field says:

        And one more thing, John Doe:

        I don’t need to stir any pot to get people to read my “little” articles. Does GLH have an audience? Yes. Do I need GLH to have an audience? No.

        I actually have full-time job and I have published this site for five years. I’ve never made a cent off of it. I do it because I’m a fan, like you, and have the desire to showcase some talented and hard-working students in the area.

        And since I’m not beholden to anyone, I can tell the truth. I’ve worked at a newspaper before, for years in fact, and I know what they can and can’t write. I’m not limited by the interests they’re limited by.

        The things you read here, you’ll never read in the newspaper. And that’s why some people, including you, read my “little” articles.

        And maybe I’m too harsh on the Metro League, but that probably won’t change until the right people stop being stumbling blocks to the best interest of the whole county — which, of course, is a consolidated mega league like they have almost everywhere else.

        For too long the FML has been content with mediocrity. That, to be honest, is why I’ve been all too excited about Coach Baylis and Coach Trent. I think they’re going to change that.

    • SC Fan says:

      In regards to your comment on coach Trent as being a thug. We are proud that this coach is at SC and is teaching his team to play with the same passion as he has in coaching the game. Think about it, when was the last time SC had two wins within a week over the defending conference champions. This would not have resulted under our prior coach. Coach Trent has brought a new sense of pride to our SC basketball program and is a “great” teacher of young men. We are grateful to have him on board.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The main thing about your article that truly bothered me was your promotion of a play that should have been called ‘flagrant’ as your “play of the game.”

    You asked the question: “and did he really get hurt?” Obviously Lovachis played the rest of the game and ended up being just fine, but that’s not the point. Lovachis’ head hit the floor hard, very hard. Were you there? At a slightly different angle he could have just as easily been leaving the gym on a strecher, and there is no denying that. He got up without an aggressive response, walked to the free-throw line with composure, knocked two down and played hard for the remainder of the game. How about that for your infamous “play of the game?” Though the acrobatic first-half layup was pretty sweet too.

    I was obviously there routing for Holly. Good job.

    You must not have read my previous post very closely. I have absolutely nothing against city basketball, you were the one insinuating it was dirty by saying “you see that kind of play every game in the city.” Also, if city basketball is “real basketball” and the FML is not (which is pretty much what you’re saying) what are you doing covering the Metro League?

    I never said the Swartz Creek player should not have fouled Lovachis, and let the momentum swing. I simply said he should have went about fouling him in a different manner.

    I’d like you to show me where in my previous post I said the officiating in this game was biased. I simply suggested the refereeing in this particular game was very poor, and I would have a hard time believing if you felt otherwise. Nor did I say the officiating affected the outcome of the game. Way to put your words in my mouth.

    In your original article under your “play of the game” section you wrote: “the foul was not flagrant or intentional, only decisive.” In your response to Unknown you wrote “Yeah, he INTENTIONALLY tried to prevent a dunk.” That’s a little contradictory, don’t you think?

    I, like you, am a fan of hustle and pride as well as physicality. I appreciate players who play the game passionately. I truly doubt you enjoy seeing players get hurt, but I do strongly disagree with your over promotion of a flagrant foul, that could have caused a serious injury.

    p.s. I like violins

    • SC Fan says:

      Writing from an SC perspective. The foul being referred to as “flagrant” could have been and would have been had the SC player grabbed the player from behind and yanked him down. However, the player made a play for the ball, actually had his hand on the ball and the only place to foul him from would be from behind on a break away.

      What you had on that play was SC’s most athletic player fouling probably the most athletic player on the court. Lovachis promptly responded, got up made the two free throws and played hard the remainder of the way. As an SC fan, you can see he is a tremendous talent and we wish him well, obviously unless he is playing against us and we’ll defend hard again.

      I’m not sure it was the play of the game, but it was a huge momentum saver.

  5. A Coggins says:

    Jared –

    Good article my friend. It was good to have you at HHS last night. As for the previous comments from Holly and Creek fans (both written here and spoken last night) I have just a couple things to say…

    If you think you can do better, pick up a whistle and take the classes. The MHSAA needs officials. Let’s see what you have to offer.

    If you think coaches/players/administration are not acting “sportsmanlike” then volunteer your time and try to change things.

    If you don’t want to do either of those things, you have one other choice – stay home. You are an annoyance to those of us who appreciate high school sports can be fun, but is not life and death.

    Jared – see you at Mott on Wednesday.

  6. greg johnson says:

    Gotta chip my two cents worth in. Jared….couldn’t agree with you more. Mr. Doe and Anonymous get a clue. The FML is grueling to watch because the ignorant fans and most coaches want EVERY brush of contact on the floor called a foul. They love it when they shoot double bonus both halves and the games take 2 hours. There is no athleticism being displayed and no flow to the game. I know both coach Lance and Jeremy, they want the league to be different….it has to be different before a FML team ever makes it past a regional game and most of the time out of the district.
    Since when is denying a dunk or easy layup automatically “intentional”? Of course they are vulnerable to injury, they are both in the air and anything can happen should they land awkwardly. That doesn’t make it dirty basketball. You two are content watching your non-athletic foul induced stupor brand of basketball that has been known as FML begin to change right before your eyes. If that is what you want switch to the GAC where 90% of the teams play that way too. Kudos to the coaches bringing excitement, athleticism and toughness to Flint area basketball. It’s good for everybody.

  7. [...] took seven different kinds of smoke from Holly fans (go read the comments attached to the story) for supposedly praising an attempt to hurt another player. They said the foul was flagrant, [...]

  8. greg johnson says:

    Cam,
    You lose! The pictures are sufficient enough to show the effort and clean act of the play. Your post is embelished beyond the point of belief. Even the worst referee in Genesee County would call what you describe as an intentional if not a flagrant. Don’t be such a homer and sore loser all in the same post. Get over it, you lost….to a better team. Now go beat Fenton if your so good.

  9. Skunk says:

    Holly is all about fake toughness and complains about everything. You want to talk about something, how bout Baylis celebrating like a five year old when they were still losing? Maybe he should get some more just for men.

  10. John Doe [with Objective X-ray specs] says:

    This conversation got started regarding the “Play of the Game” and not the toughness of the league or definition of a foul or anything else.

    The fact of the matter is: You chose a questionable call, of which you even described as “running down Lovachis” as your “Play of the Game”. And that is tasteless.

    I don’t want to hear another comment about getting a clue, or toughness… I HATE weak contact fouls, and they do destroy the game.

    So stop dancing around the subject Jared, picking apart other people’s posts and making counter arguments about other things to change the subject, and admit that your “Play of the Game” was poor “Journalism”.

    • Jared Field says:

      Last summer at an AAU event in Grand Rapids, I watched a kid in my program run down a player from the King James All Stars near the end of a game (one that wasn’t close) to stop a dunk.

      He didn’t go for his head, but he fouled him hard and put him on the line.

      After the game, the first thing out of the coach’s mouth was about that play. “That’s how players with pride play the game,” he said.

      What’s worse? Assuming a kid is a dirty player and a coach is a thug? Or assuming that a kid was playing hard and actually going for the ball (which the picture shows)?

      To be honest, I’m sure you do hate weak fouls when they go against your team. Just like you hate hard fouls when they go against your team. Be consistent and stop being a homer.

      I don’t know Aaron Wascha, but I do know Jeremy Trent. He’s probably the hardest-working coach I know, and I know my fair share.

      • John Doe [with Objective X-ray specs] says:

        Case in point.

      • This idea of questioning Coach Trent as a dirty coach is much ado about nothing. I have played against him (when he was at Mott and I was a high schooler scrimmaging them with my CANUSA teammates and rec league), played with him, coached with him, and had numerous basketball conversations with him. The LAST words I would use to describe him would be “dirty” or “thug” or anything like that. He just flat out gets it, and subsequently gets it done.

        Having said that, let’s leave this discussion at this…it was a foul. It was a hard foul. It was a hard foul that demonstrated both a kid’s hustle/determination, and a kid’s toughness to play through it (likely a kid who has played higer echelon competition as a norm). It was a hard foul that demonstrated all that which looked worse by the awkwardness of the fall. Most fouls do. I have seen absolutely clean plays (stronger defensive player stops a shot in its track while still in offensive player’s hand, thus causing that player to be thrown off balance and hit the floor hard). I have seen a defender backing up run into a leaper trying to catch an alley oop (definitely not in the Metro) and upend a guy. I have seen dirty plays (elbows toward the face, two-hand pushes out of the air, blatant undercuts) that don’t look as bad to the untrained eye beacuse the offensive player was athletic enough or had just a good enough angle to not land awkwardly.

        People, let it lay…it was good hustle followed by good sportsmanship on the Holly player’s part. Let’s move forward and especially keep the coach’s integrity out of it.

      • John Doe [with Objective X-ray specs] says:

        But was it the play of the game?

      • I wasn’t at the game, so I may have picked and may have not. But if it was the chief swing in momentum, then it very well may have been.

  11. Nice work Jared bringing attention to the Metro.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Some people really think that was a flargent or intentional? wow! It was a good play by Wascha he was going for the ball look at the picture.

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