The boys’ basketball game on Friday night between host Skyline and Huron had all the makings for drama, excitement and some outstanding basketball between two excellent programs. Let’s go through the checklist.
City rivalry – check.
Undefeated team – check.
No. 1 team in the state – check.
Packed and loud gym – check.
Senior night – check.
At least one of the items on the checklist had to be updated after Skyline scored a 53-40 victory over the previously undefeated River Rats, who entered the game as the No. 1 team in the state. The Eagles weren’t perfect but played a solid game for four quarters, took care of the basketball for the most part and knocked down key shots whenever the River Rats started to get things rolling.
With 6 minutes left in the game, Huron’s Devin Womack knocked down a pair of free throws to cut Skyline’s lead to 42-34. Huron’s coach Waleed Samaha called time out with plenty of time for the River Rats to make a comeback and pull this game out.
But it was Skyline that responded.
Skyline senior Kabir Bergin scored inside to make it 44-34.
And then Ashay Arora hit two shots heard around the world – well, at least around Ann Arbor. The junior knocked down a triple from the corner to make it 47-34. Next time down the floor, Arora hit a triple from the wing – right in front of the huge Skyline student section – to push the Eagles ahead 50-35.
If there was a dagger in this game, that second triple was it as the Eagles played strong defense the rest of the way to keep the River Rats away from the win column for the first time this season.
“I thought defensively we were OK,” said Samaha. “We can be better defensively. We missed some assignments and the shots just weren’t falling. We had some turnovers, too.
“But credit them. That’s a very good basketball team. Their press was really good and they did some good things with their press and with their zone. Against that type of pressure you have to make some plays and tonight we didn’t make enough plays.”
Huron (14-1) is still in first place in the SEC Red with a 7-1 record. Skyline is 5-3 in the SEC Red. The River Rats play Tuesday at Saline. The Eagles play at Bedford.
The Eagles had balanced scoring as five players scored seven or more points.
Bergin (six rebounds) scored seven of his team-high 12 points in the first half to get the Eagles flying in the right direction. Jack Williams hit some big shots and finished with 11 points. The junior guard also had five rebounds, three steals and three assists. Arora hit the two huge triples in the fourth quarter and finished with eight points. Dinalli DeLoach (four rebounds, three steals and two blocks) and Jermaine Davis each scored seven points. Chris Cayton (four points, five assists) played a solid game at the point for the Eagles.
Womack was the only Huron player to reach double-digits. The junior had 10 points. Senior Mike Robinson scored nine points. Tyson Edmondson knocked down two triples in the fourth quarter and finished with six points.
The game started with plenty of intensity and strong defense. A triple by Williams tied the game at 8-8 and layup by Arora pushed the Eagles into a 10-8 lead. A triple by DeLoach sent Skyline into the second quarter with a 15-10 lead.
Womack scored inside to cut Skyline’s lead to 18-14. But Davis answered at the other end. Bergin scored inside to push the lead to 22-14.
A triple by Huron’s Dylan Studstill cut the lead to 22-17.
With 2:15 left in the first half, Bergin made two free throws to give Skyline a 24-17 lead. A steal and slam dunk by DeLoach sent the Skyline crowd into a frenzy and the Eagles into a 26-17 lead with 2 minutes left in the half.
Mike Davis answered right away at the other end to cut the deficit to 26-19.
But Skyline led 28-20 at halftime.
Williams hit a triple and turned a steal into a layup to give Skyline a 33-20 lead early in the third quarter. Bergin hit a tough shot to advance the Eagles lead to 35-23.
Davis had a nice drive to the hoop and basket to make it 37-23 with 3:15 left in the quarter. Robinson hit a triple and Jake Watkins scored inside to make it 37-28.
Skyline led 38-28 after three quarters.