In Play with Tom Markowski

Class C power Southfield Christian muscles past Pioneer, 56-49

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

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Southfield – The state tournament is less than four weeks away and two teams looking to make a long run met Tuesday at Southfield Christian.

Christian, ranked No. 3 in Class C, dominates the teams in its conference (Michigan Independent Athletic Conference) so coach Josh Baker does his best to schedule his eight non-conference games against teams that will challenge his Eagles.

And Ann Arbor Pioneer proved to be a worthy opponent as the Pioneers would eventually fall to the Eagles, 56-49.

Christian (15-1) led 41-27 after Marlo Brown’s basket ended a 7-0 run with 2:29 left in the third quarter.

Pioneer (13-3), a Class A school, scored the next 10 points before Bryce Washington made a 3-pointer with 6:09 left in the fourth. The Pioneers pulled within 49-47 on Jordan Currie’s 3-point play with 1:16 remaining. Eleven seconds later Washington’s brother, Brock, made a 3-pointer and Christian was able to hang on.

“This is why we scheduled this game,” Pioneer coach Rex Stanczak said. “We kind of replaced the Detroit Country Day game on our schedule with these guys. You throw that Class C stuff out of the window. They can play with anybody.

“They’re hard to guard. We did a decent job defending. They can put it on the floor plus they get out in transition. We missed too many layups and we normally shoot well from the three. What was huge was they scored seven points on inbound passes. We lose by seven.”

Pioneer shot poorly for three quarters and had a difficult time keeping the Eagles from getting second and third shots. The Pioneers were 11-of-44 (25 percent) from the field in the first 24 minutes and Christian held a 51-32 edge in rebounds.

Chris McGough led Pioneer with 11 points and Currie had 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks before fouling out with 21 seconds left.

“No question this prepares us,” Baker said. “We got a lot of the toughness plays. I love the way Marlo rebounds.”

Brown scored but eight points but he doesn’t have to score for his team to be successful. One of two seniors in the starting lineup, Brown, a 6-5 wing, is the floor leader. He had 11 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. Trenton Temple had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Bryce Washington added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Brown remains unsigned. He’s being recruited by a number of schools including the University of Detroit. Detroit coach Ray McCallum was in the stands to watch Brown and others.

Temple made one of the biggest plays down the stretch. Christian’s lead was five and both teams failed to convert excellent scoring opportunities. The play went end to end for over a minute until Temple picked up a loose ball and converted a 3-point play to give the Eagles a 47-39 lead with 3:54 left.

“This tests how good we are,” Brown said. “Going against good competition and winning. It’s fun playing with guys who can all score. I believe all of the starters could go to another team and score in double figures every night.”

A team with this type of balance will be a huge test for any team in the tournament.