By Gavin Raath
SWARTZ CREEK, Michigan — Someone asked me at the start of the Holly/Swartz Creek game on Friday night, “why did you come to this game?” I chuckled in response, but wanted to say to that Holly fan, “because I think Creek wins this one.”
Holly is without two key transfers in Thomas Lovachis and Josh Fugate, but should have been the favorite in this game. But at home, and with its new coach Jeremy Trent looking to send a message against the conference’s best, I had hunch it would go another way.
After a low scoring game that saw Creek outscore Holly the last three quarters to secure the win, I would say Coach Trent’s message was received — and the Metro had better serve notice.
Creek looked rough to start, relying on three-pointers to keep them in the game in the first half, but there was no denying the excellent ball movement on offense, and the stingy 2-3 zone on defense, which was perfect since Holly couldn’t establish a three-point threat all night. The Xs and Os were there for Creek, but the players were too….
Trevor Black, a 6’0″ senior, [who reminds me of another Creek player about four years ago in Ben Cummmings] had likely his best career game hitting seemingly every shot he took.
Another senior that came up big was Aaron Wascha. The 6’0″ guard was a stabilizing factor throughout the game and hit some clutch free throws toward the end of regulation.
Ethan Brouwer is another Dragon worth noting. The 6’5″ senior, who has started since he was a freshman, made great defensive adjustments at halftime, shutting down Holly’s inside game.
But of course, player of the game goes to a guy that has been applauded early and often on this site: Cody Campbell.
Campbell protected the ball against those long and athletic traps of Holly and drilled a ton of threes to always keep Creek in the game. Campbell didn’t take a single easy three. Each one involved a head fake, a pump, NBA range, a hand in the face — you get the picture, yet he drilled them at an insane clip. He even came up with a huge steal against Kevin Wilson in the fourth that sealed the game in my mind. Great game from a kid playing with a cast on his left wrist. Maybe he should keep that cast on.
Creek played a great game, but also everything went wrong that could go wrong for Holly. Guys were mishandling the ball, their top shooters were cold; really the only good fortune Holly had was the poor free throw shooting of Creek down the stretch — if Creek hits those free throws, then this game would have been a blowout.
Justin Fowler does a fine job running the point. His three-ball is off though and he doesn’t do much penetrating. He makes a lot of fakes up top that seemingly free him up, yet he doesn’t take advantage. He’ll get better since he’s essentially a new starter for Holly.
Lance Hopkin didn’t have his best game. He was still the top post on the floor, but struggled with Brouwer once the big man made some halftime defensive adjustments. Lance will always struggle inside if a big man just stays on his feet instead of going for the swat, since the forward stands at only 6’3″ or so.
Evan Young is another Holly post that I like, and I can’t figure why he’s not starting, but he’s a guy that sells out to the dirty work.
Coach Baylis has some nice luxuries on the wing in that he has length. Seniors Kevin Wilson and Kyle Sherwin both stand somewhere between 6’3″ or 6’4″ and possess good athleticism and skill. Wilson probably needs to play a little more disciplined, while Sherwin probably needs to be more aggressive, but what a great luxury with those guys.
Sherwin in particular was Holly’s best player tonight. That kid could be really special — he’s a match-up nightmare.
Holly sophomore Austin Hopkin, Lance’s little brother, will be a nice player, but he’s not the inside warrior that his brother is.
I was hoping to see another sophomore Nick Stoll last night. The 6’5″+ center has some nice ability, but must not be ready for this level.
Creek plays a new Holly team later this season. Expect a different outcome then.