In Play with Tom Markowski

North Famington uses balance scoring, tenacious defense to down Adams, 65-51

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

Farmington Hills – Anonymity. It is what the boys basketball team at North Farmington have experienced this season despite starting 12-0.

And it’s likely to shadow them the rest of the regular season and into the tournament.

And that’s just fine with Jeron Rogers, North Farmington’s senior forward. All he and his teammates can control is what they do on the court.

Rogers had 19 points and 14 rebounds as the Raiders defeated Rochester Adams 65-51 in an Oakland Activities Association Red Division game on Thursday at North Farmington.

North Farmington has never been 12-0 before. Heck, the program’s best start was 8-0. Last season the Raiders started 7-0.

Oh, yes, and North Farmington is alone in first place in the Red, one game ahead of Clarkston (11-0, 1-0), which plays Friday against Southfield-Lathrup.

The notoriety in the OAA is most often poured upon Clarkston, and deservedly so. Coach Dan Fife has one of the state’s top programs. Clarkston is routinely ranked in the top 10 in Class A and the Wolves sit at No. 8.

Maybe, just maybe, this season it’s North Farmington’s turn.

“We like people saying we’re nothing or we’re not going far in the tournament,” Rogers said. “We do play like we have a chip on our shoulder. We’re not worried about being ranked. We worried about March. We have chemistry. We all know how to play with each other.”

Some are beginning to notice. North Farmington was ranked No. 10 in State Champs’ latest poll.

Adams’ coach John Hall is well aware of how good these Raiders are.

North Farmington forced seven turnovers in each of the first two quarters and six more in the third. Coach Todd Negoshian mixed his defenses sometimes inserting a half-court trap, other times a three-quarters court trap and other times falling back into a straight man-to-man.

All of which gave Hall’s team problems.

The sore wa tied at 10-10 ate in the first quarter before North Farmington went on a 12-0 run. The Raiders led 35-23 at halftime and 49-35 at the end of three quarters.

Spencer Littleson, a 6-3 junior, led Adams (7-3, 1-1) with 23 points. 

“We can’t simulate their press in practice,” Hall said. “I won’t say we weren’t ready to play. We were. As soon as they got us on our heels we weren’t aggressive enough. We’re still young. We weren’t ready to win this game.”

You're not alone, John. The way North Farmington plays defense there aren’t a lot of teams in the Detroit area that could handle such pressure.

The Raiders are quick, long and athletic. Negoshian said it’s the most athletic team he’s had.

Rogers is 6-7 and he signed with Cleveland State. Alex Darden is 6-5 and though he’s a junior, he’s committed to Cincinnati for baseball. Darden, who had seven points and seven rebounds, is a pitcher. Anthony Qasawa is 6-5 and the only other senior in the rotation. Negoshian said Qasawa, who had 22 points and four rebounds, is being recruited by small colleges. And then there’s Jacob Joubert, a 6-2 junior point guard. Joubert runs the offense but he can also score. Joubert had 13 points.

Never mind those numbers. What makes North Farmington so formidable is its defense. And it plays a clean defense. There were but a few hand-checking fouls called and not once did Adams get into the bonus.

“We try to limit what people do,” Negoshian said. “We get after it defensively in practice. To our guys credit they really believe in our style. It’s an unselfish team. We try to make teams play faster than they’re used to.

“They don’t care who gets the press or the notoriety. This group wants to win.”