By “The Big D” Derek Wark
I credit both our Port Huron High Big Reds and the visiting Marysville Vikings as they sure gave us one awesome basketball game on Friday Night, Jan. 17th. This one was an absolute pleasure for The Big D to announce for PH Schools TV! Neither team could seemingly pull away from the other. Marysville had the best chance to do so, as they even had an 11 point lead (40-29) in the second half. Despite the fact that they couldn’t hold onto it, somehow, the Vikings stormed out of Big Red Country with the 54-52 victory as this game was everything a local rivalry certainly should be and more.
The raucous crowd at the Port Huron High School Gymnasium (especially the Marysville student section) saw a true blue Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde act from both teams. The Vikings opened up a huge lead throughout, only to see Port Huron keep on chipping away at it all game long…until a huge 3-pointer by Big Red Guard – De’Ovion Price eventually put PH ahead. Not only did Price pop the last Big Red field goal, but it marked the first time the Big Reds had the lead in this game since Price threw in their first field goal at 2-0. Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as Marysville Guard – D’Marco Singleton had the winning hoop with just 8 seconds left. Sometimes it’s the little things that most lead to victories. Clutch free throws down the stretch can sometimes be the difference. Marysville had the advantage in team fouls and it ended up being perhaps the most important key of all. With a 1-and-1 foul still to give in the dying seconds, Marysville took advantage of putting Port Huron to the foul line as the Big Reds missed their first free throw of the 1-and-1, the Vikings ended up with the rebound, PH was forced to foul and Marysville ended up with the victory, shooting winning free throws of their own with just 2.2 seconds left on the clock. Port Huron eventually got the ball back for one last shot from full court but with just 2.2 left on the clock, Big Red Guard – Nijere Finney simply ran out of time and couldn’t get an accurate shot off from too far out.
Both Port Huron Head Coach – Marion Stewart and Marysville Head Coach – Eric Schunk were visibly not very happy with the officiating either. I’m not usually one to mention it but there were a lot of calls that seemed to go against The Big Reds, especially in the second half. I believe little Port Huron Guard – Treshaun Lee had a right to be more then just a little upset as he just couldn’t seem to get a call to go his way at all. At one point, three or four straight calls went against Lee, and with the Big Reds trying desperately to battle back in this game, frustrations were starting to mount for the boys in red. As great a game as PH Guard – De’Ovion Price had, I thought he too had some rough calls go against him. At one point, he was even served with a technical foul. Although it temporarily halted the comeback efforts by the Big Reds, to their credit they never quit fighting back and the fact that they did eventually get the lead back in this game certainly says something about their heart and never quit attitude and it’s certainly something Coach Stewart can be proud of. That being said, both teams can certainly take both the good and the bad from this night. On one hand, it was impressive that Marysville had a huge lead on Port Huron but on the other hand, they couldn’t hold it. It was equally impressive that the Big Reds battled back all night long and they eventually took the lead, only to also end up losing both the lead and the game in the end. In my opinion, the Big Reds also seemed to panic a bit when they did, in fact, go ahead in the game, attempting to force passes whereas it would have served them better to play a bit calmer and force Marysville to come right after them as at that point, Marysville was trailing and were the desperate team…not PH.
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The Marysville Vikings came into the game with a 2-5 record but to their credit, they certainly didn’t look like a losing team. They were aggressive, they took it right to Port Huron all night long and their outside shooting was impressive from the perimeter. Standout players in this one were Guards – Evan Woodard, D’Marco Singleton and Logan Wright meanwhile, Forward – Lawrence Smafield was also a strong force, especially early on. Woodard, Singleton and Wright especially, play a very aggressive style where they fight hard for everything they get. In my opinion, it was this tough mentality that won Marysville the game. On the other hand, our Port Huron Big Reds certainly had stand out performances from both Foward – Ethan Balon and in my opinion, the star of the game – De’Ovion Price. To me, Price is just a raw, athletic talent who has a complete game with a flair for both the exciting and the dramatic. Not only is he a threat to put points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks on the scoreboard on any given night but he also tends to make big plays at the most important times. Basically, Price will do anything to win! Balon, on the other hand certainly provides a nice 1-2 punch with Price. Like Price, Balon provides a complete game and is excellent off the dribble and taking the ball to the lane as he proved many times in this game. The rest of the Big Reds seem to provide a supporting role when needed. It was also a nice game for Forward – Jace Mullins as many of his points came from down low battles where he seemingly just out-wrestled Marysville for the ball on a number of occasions.
In my opinion, the Big Reds are a lot more talented then what they showed in this game. If frustration didn’t take it’s toll, along with excellent outside shooting from Marysville that obviously shocked them, this could have been a much different game for the boys in red. Something can clearly be said though for any team that battles back and never gives up when being down by so much in the second half of any basketball game. The key is for the Big Reds to continue to play smart and just keep their cool as the season continues. Getting the lead is one thing. Maintaining that lead is completely another. Coach Stewart preaches playing hard for four quarters. Although the Big Reds clearly didn’t do that in this game, they still almost won which makes me wonder what the Big Reds would look like if they did, in fact, play their best basketball for all 32 minutes. Nonetheless, Congratulations, Marysville on a hard-fought victory in hostile Big Red territory. WOW! Barn-Burner rivalry basketball games sure are fun, aren’t they?