By: Daniel Stickradt
BOYS BASKETBALL: Avondale’s fast start builds confidence for a league title run
BY DAN STICKRADT
AUBURN HILLS — If there’s one thing Tim Morton has learned over the years about boys basketball in Oakland County, it’s parity.
There’s a lot of very good programs and teams need to show up on a consistent basis.
“In our league alone, the OAA White (Division), anyone can beat anyone,” said veteran coach Tim Morton. “You have to come ready to play every night or you’ll get beat. There’s a lot of other good teams around the OAA and Oakland County in general. That hasn’t changed much over the years.”
Morton prepped at Auburn Hills Avondale in the early 1980s, when the Yellowjackets were a top 10 team in Class B. He took over the boys basketball program in 1996-97 and coached for through the 2004-05 campaign. Included in that stint was the school’s 2002 Class B state championship.
Avondale moved up to Class A the next season.
Morton returned to the Avondale sidelines in 2012-13 and has a quality team this season — a significant jump up from last season’s 7-14 team that finished just 2-8 in the OAA White Division.
“Last season we were competitive, but we lost a lot of tight games,” said Morton. “This season we seam to be playing much better all around. We’re playing an up-tempo game, so we use 9-10 guys regularly. When you play that kind of style, you have to play a lot of guys or guys will start getting tired in the fourth quarter. I like our depth a lot. We’re getting a lot of production off the bench.”
Senior guard Dre Allen has taken the reigns as the Yellowjackets’ leading scorer, averaging around 18 points a game. Senior guard Dominic Kejbou has added around 13 points a game and 6-foot-3 lefty Martone Cole has thrived with 12 points a game and is the team’s leading rebounder at around 7.0 a contest.
Versatile senior Vyshonn Musson plays with a 4:1 assist-to-turnover-ratio, while senior Derrick Johnson has been a steadying force in the backcourt for a team that began the season 5-1.
Through six games, Avondale averaged 72.7 points a game while allowing 54.7 points against, signaling some quality defense. Only Walled Lake Central defeated the Yellowjackets in the first third of the campaign.
Off the pine, sophomore forward Kobe Anthony has a 3:1 assist-to-turnover-ratio as a back-up point guard. Junior guard Nick Whiteside can supply three-pointers with some instant offense, the same as senior guard Ty Bland, who is averaging around 9.0 points a game. Donovan Hammond, the team’s tallest player at 6-6, did not play as a junior but had provided some rebounding in the post with his physicality.
Junior guard Will Fahoome has also gained some minutes in a deep rotation of guards in this guard-oriented offense.
“We’re averaging around 65 percent from the (foul) line, 35 percent from three and 55 from the floor,” said Morton. “If we can average those or improve on those, and play solid defense, then I think we can be in the hunt for a league title this season. But again, there are no weak teams in our division, its very balanced. I think it’s going to be a war.
“I don't think we’ve seen our best basketball yet because the scheduling hasn't allowed us to get into any type of flow,” added Morton. “We didn’t play any games the first week, then we played something like four games in 10 days. Then we had the long layoff for the holidays. Now we play two games a week right up to the districts. We’ll see what we’re made of during league play.”