The Pioneer boys’ basketball team defeated visiting Walled Lake Northern on Tuesday behind Koebe Moore’s team-high 15 points. The Pioneers (1-1 on the young season) rebounded from a season-opening defeat to Canton last week.
“I was just taking my open shots and my teammates were getting me the ball. I was just scoring as best I could. We have great chemistry together,” said Moore. “In practice, we always work really well together. Every time I see my teammates open, I trust them to make the wide open shots or I trust them that I’ll always get the ball back if I’m open.”
Despite the victory, Pioneer didn’t exactly get off to a quick start. Kevyn Robertson scored the first six points of the game, getting the Knights up 6-0, less than 2 minutes into the first quarter. Walled Lake Northern led 9-2 and 13-8 after the first quarter, but the Pioneers battled back.
Moore scored 10 second-quarter points, including a three-point play to tie the game at 13 with 4:26 remaining until halftime. Moore later knocked down a mid-range jumper with less than 5 seconds left, giving the Pioneers a 22-17 lead at the break. He had 14 points at halftime, while Robertson led the Knights with nine points.
“He (Robertson) was scoring but we just had a different approach in the second half. My coach wanted me to guard him sometimes or Rasheed (Sampson) would, or someone else would have to,” said Moore. “We would just switch up and we tried to give him different looks and it was enough to get the win.”
Sampson, a junior center, played nearly the entire third quarter as he helped Pioneer take a 27-23 lead with a three-point play. Bobby McGuire responded with an and-one of his own and the Knights went on a 7-0 run, taking a 30-27 lead with 3:51 left in the third quarter. Sampson’s assist on the final possession of the quarter cut Pioneer’s deficit to just one point.
Moore discussed how Sampson impacted the game off the bench: “He brought us a lot of energy. We need him and he brings us energy off the bench. He’s a big role player for us and a really good player. When he got in, he brought the energy up for everyone and we stayed at that level ever since.”
Macail Fly, a senior guard, hit a corner 3-pointer to put Pioneer up 39-38 and the Pioneers didn’t trail for the remainder of the game. With 57 seconds left, Aidan Lee found Sampson underneath the hoop for a two-handed dunk to give Pioneer a 49-46 lead. Moore threw a perfect pass on the following possession to put his team up 51-38 with 13 seconds left.
Moore touched on Sampson’s dunk and his no-look pass to William Fichera: “That was wild. That turned me up. That turned up the whole team. The whole gym. It kept us going. On the next play, I saw him cutting to the rim on a three-on-two. I hit him with a no-look and I knew he was going to make it. I trust my teammates and I know that they’re going to score.”
Sampson sealed the win with a free throw, giving Pioneer a 52-48 victory.
The Pioneers will return to action on Saturday, Dec. 21 at Pioneer against Old Redford Academy. The game is the final of three that afternoon as part of the Ann Arbor Classic. Huron plays at noon and Skyline tips off at 2 p.m. The Pioneer-Redford game is at 4 p.m.
Pioneer’s next game will be against Glenn on Saturday, Dec. 28 at Eastern Michigan’s Convocation Center.
“We play again this Saturday and we’re going to try and build off this win and keep it going. We have to keep practicing hard every day and we can just never look back,” Moore said. ”It’s my senior year, we’re trying to win every game we can. We want that championship baby.”