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.
— 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.