Boys Basketball: “Blessed” Huron smothers Pioneer in second game back from COVID shutdown

It’s been a wild few weeks for Ann Arbor Huron.

Nine days after a positive COVID-19 test in the program forced the River Rats, along with Ypsilanti and Skyline, into quarantine, Huron won its second game in less than 24 hours, knocking off crosstown rival Pioneer, 51-33, on Saturday afternoon.

The River Rats (5-0 overall), ranked No. 3 in Division 1 by the Associated Press, beat Saline on Friday night, 40-31.

Huron head coach Waleed Samaha said the team is “keeping perspective” on the COVID situation.

“What we’re dealing with is so much different than what a lot of people are dealing with,” Samaha said. “The fact that we get to be out here and do what we love to do is more of a blessing than a struggle. We’re going to take the approach of what we get to do versus what we’re struggling to do.”

Samaha said Huron showed less rust than in Friday’s game at Saline.

“I thought we played better today. I thought we were sharper defensively, and even though the scoreboard doesn’t show it, I really thought offensively we had good flow, good scoring opportunities,” Samaha said.

Defensively, Huron showed why it is a title contender, smothering Pioneer’s offense. Senior center Kingsley Perkins was a one-man wrecking crew, recording four blocks and one steal in the first half alone. He scored six points.

“I was seeing through their moves and beat them at the spot,” Perkins said. “It opened it up for me to block the shots.”

Perkins didn’t take long to make his impact felt. After Pioneer scored the game’s first four points, Perkins drained a jump shot, and then blocked a Pioneer shot which led to a layup for Tyson Edmondson.

Huron was led by seniors Brandon Rawls and Julian Lewis, who each scored a game-high 13 points.

Rawls was dominant for Huron in the first quarter, scoring six points. Huron led 11-6 at the quarter’s end.

Huron continued its hot play in the second quarter, outscoring the Pioneers 28-4 in a run spanning nearly 13 minutes.

Lewis did most of his damage offensively in the second quarter, scoring seven points, with four in the paint and a three-pointer as well.

Huron made three 3’s in the quarter, and outscored Pioneer 17-5. If not for a three-pointer from Will Fichera in the final 10 seconds Huron would have held the Pioneers to a mere two points in the quarter.

Bright spots in defeat for the Pioneers were Rasheed Sampson and Elijah Klein. Sampson led the Pioneers with eight points, and Klein added six.

Pioneer was more competitive with the River Rats in the third quarter, but Huron prevailed in the quarter, 10-6. Sampson scored all six Pioneer points in the quarter.

Still, Huron’s offensive rebounding and transition game reigned supreme in the quarter. Rawls grabbed three offensive rebounds in the quarter, which all led to points for the River Rats.

Huron led 38-17 after three quarters.

Huron played its bench for much of the final quarter, and got solid contributions from seniors Jake Watkins (5 points total) and Ben Den Houter (4 points). Junior Lorenzo Hopkins scored four points in the quarter for the Pioneers.

Huron next hosts Southeastern Conference opponent Temperance Bedford (2-4) on Thursday. The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. Pioneer (1-4) hosts Ypsilanti (0-2) on Tuesday, with the game tipping off at 7 p.m.