In Play with Tom Markowski

Allen Academy shows balance offensively, runs past Arthur Hill, 76-56, in Freedom Classic

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

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Warren – There’s nothing complicated about Detroit Allen Academy. The Wildcats play as fast as they can, try to make their opponents play fast and simply try to score as many points as possible.

Coach Craig Covington, Jr., has his Wildcats on the move this season and they took another step forward on Saturday as they dismantled perennial Class A power Saginaw Arthur Hill 76-56 as part of a six-game extravaganza, a.k.a., the 6th annual Horatio Williams Freedom Classic games at Warren Fitzgerald.

“We try to get up as many shots up as we can,” Covington said. “Defensively we come off of ball screens and try to get our hands in the way of the passes. We didn’t press today because we thought that Arthur Hill might press so we didn’t want to get into that.”

Allen (7-2), ranked No. 3 in Class C, trailed once, 2-0. It led 21-16 at the end of the first quarter thanks to its third 3-pointer, that by Jawan Snoddy with two seconds left.

The Wildcats ended the first half on a 10-4 run to take a comfortable 40-26 lead.

Wirery center Daniel Pippen provided much of the offense in the first 16 minutes as he scored 15 of his 21 points. The 6-8 Kent State signee made three 3-pointers, was 4-of-4 from the free throw line, had three tip-ins, 10 rebounds and six blocks.

Pippen is just the tip of the iceberg on this young and talented squad. Despite a nagging leg injury, Allen’s other senior, 6-foot guard Jason Williams, scored 13 consecutive points during a six-minute stretch of the second half. That scoring spree increased Allen’s lead from 48-28 to 61-38. Oddly, Williams didn’t score before or after.

Again, with this team, the scoring comes from a variety of players. Mark Watts, a freshman guard, had 12 points and Snoddy added nine on three 3-pointers.

Even though Covington encourages an up-tempo style his players, for the most part, play under control. The Wildcats committed just 13 turnovers, a low number for this type of team, and they forced 16.

Williams is the catalyst. He signed with East Tennessee State and is clearly the leader in the backcourt, running the offense and taking the open shot when called upon.

“With us, being a small school,” Covington said. “These guys are close. They all take classes together. Pippen missed 12 games last year because of an injury and we pretty much have everyone back, except for our freshman (Watts) who’s in the mix.

“We really came together during the summer. We played in a lot of team camps and we played as much as we could together. Half of our players played football so we really didn’t get much playing time in the fall.”

The Wildcats are playing with a chip on their shoulder, too. Two seasons ago they made it to the regional finals. Last season they couldn’t get past the first game of the districts.

On Friday they beat River Rouge, 58-47, at River Rouge. The Panthers entered the game ranked No. 1 in Class B.

The head-scratcher on Saturday was the play of Arthur Hill (7-2). The Lumberjacks, once a state title contender, are now a pretender. In less than 24 hours they were blown out by Saginaw (78-46) and now Allen.

Bill Burton had 25 points against Allen but even the 6-2 senior appeared off his game.

“Right now we’re not playing together,” coach Greg McMath said. “We need to play mentally strong. We need to change our rotation. We need to communicate better.”