By Matthew Bartow / WLAA
Up double-digits over Monroe late in the third quarter on Thursday, Huron head coach Waleed Samaha looked down and shook his head after a Huron turnover resulted in Monroe points. Why did one turnover make Samaha shake his head? After all, the River Rats throttled its Southeastern Conference foe to the tune of a 63-33 win.
“You might look up and go, they’re up by 30, what’s coach upset about? We’re on them about the little things,” Samaha said following the win. “It might have been that we missed a defensive assignment, we didn’t see a guy open, or we poorly executed a bounce pass. It might be something that simple, because we’re still trying to chase perfect execution.”
Samaha said this chase begins long before the opening tip.
“We get after them pretty hard in practice about giving a championship effort. That’s hard, but I think that is something we’re going to try and chase all year.”
Huron coming into the season had the makings of a championship caliber team. The River Rats returned four of five starters from its spectacular 2019-20 season that saw it finish 21-1, including a signature win over Emoni Bates and defending state champion Ypsilanti Lincoln. The River Rats had qualified for the district final before the postseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Huron certainly has lived up to expectations to start this season, knocking off 11 straight wins, with 10 of them coming by a margin of at least nine points. In perhaps its best game of the season, Huron crushed Lincoln 70-36, outscoring the Railsplitters 30-0 in the game’s third quarter.
Despite losing Bates, the nation’s top high school basketball prospect, Lincoln is no shabby team this season. The Railsplitters sit at 6-2, with its only losses coming to University of Detroit Jesuit (No. 2 in Division 1) and Huron.
Huron’s strong start has garnered attention from the Associated Press. The Rats currently sit at No. 3 in Division 1 in the latest rankings.
Samaha said this team, unlike ones he’s had in the past, frequently discusses long-term goals, but knows that winning is not guaranteed.
“This team is pretty mature, so we know who we are and where we stand among the elite teams in the state. Yet that doesn’t really matter. If you don’t come out and perform, it doesn’t matter what your ranking is or if you’re favored to win anything.”