The Pistons Academy Rookie League in Southfield completed regular season play on Thursday evening. The teams were geared up for their final regular season games, as they jostled for playoff position and looked to gain some momentum heading into the postseason. Thursday night featured a guest appearance from Detroit Pistons Director of Fan Development, Geo Thomas, who was impressed by the play of the Southfield Rookies. “These Rookies played very hard, showed great sportsmanship, and made some amazing plays tonight,” he said. “It was a great night of Pistons Academy basketball, and I can’t wait to watch them play the rest of the season!” said Thomas.
Game 1: Hawks 22 – Spurs 17
Thursday’s opening game was a thrilling back and forth affair. Each team went toe to toe, trading baskets for the entire game and playing smart, unselfish basketball. In the first half, both the Hawks and Spurs settled into a good rhythm. Alen Peysahkov and Josiah Robinson would set the tone early for the Hawks, as Peysahkov was able to knock down some tough baseline jumpers and Robinson showed off his dribbling skills as he pushed the ball up the floor and converted two nice layups in transition. However, the Spurs’ Ty Thomson kept his team in the game as he showed off a wide range of skills. Thomson’s ability to handle the basketball allowed him to penetrate the Hawk’s defense, providing himself with some clean looks in front of the basket, which he would convert for 6 first half points. The teams were all tied up 10-10 at halftime. In the second half, several other players contributed big plays for their respective teams. Langston Howard provided great defense for the Spurs, showcasing a picture-perfect defensive stance and technique while guarding the ball. Kobin Kothari played an excellent all-around game for the Spurs, as well. As he has done all season long, Kothari played an unselfish brand of basketball, doing whatever it took to help his team. Whether it was securing rebounds, handling the basketball, or finding the open man, Kobin delivered. Ezra Sobol and George Witte kept plays alive and finished defensive possessions with their tenacity on the glass, securing many offensive and defensive rebounds. For the Hawks, Alex Ashare would provide a spark in the second half. He turned a couple of nice steals into opportunities on the other end, while also chipping in 4 big second half points. In this hard-fought game, the Hawks were able to distance themselves by a slim 12-7 margin in the second half. The Hawks remianed unbeaten as they outlasted the Spurs by a score of 22-17. Alen Peysahkov and Josiah Robinson led the Hawks (3-0) with 6 points apiece. Also for the Hawks, Alex Ashare added 4 points, and Henry Kole and Jordan Scott each scored 2 points. For the Spurs (0-3), Ty Thomson led all scorers with a season-high 10 points. Zachary Kozouz added 4 points, George Witte 2 points, and Langston Howard 1 point. Both teams received a standing ovation from their supporters, in what was one of the best games of the season. The Spurs improvement was on full display Thursday night, and although they are still searching for their first victory, they look poised to play the role of spoiler come playoff time.
Game 2: Celtics 27 – Lakers 12
In Game #2, Caleb Starr got the Celtics on the board early with a nice layup from the right side. The Lakers would tie the game shortly after at 2-2 on a pull-up jump shot from Josh Sigmon, but the Celtics would put their foot on the gas pedal en route to a commanding 15-2 halftime lead. Jaden Ryke found some success in the first half, knocking down a couple of nice mid-range jumpers. The Celtics were also aided by the strong play of Jermon Johnson, who showed a great ability to turn steals into fast break opportunities. The Celtics hounded the Lakers into many first half turnovers and were able to convert those takeaways into points on the offensive end. Following some halftime adjustments, the Lakers were able to turn things around in the second half. They increased their defensive effort and energy, leading to a run of their own. Jonathan Fletcher and Eugene Conley provided the second half spark for the Lakers. Fletcher was able to gather some big rebounds and added a nice basket underneath. Conley snatched a few nice steals and was able to push the ball down the floor and put pressure on the Celtics. His effort gained him multiple trips to the free throw line, as well as a beautiful layup in transition late in the second half. However, the Lakers bid for a comeback was put to rest by the Celtics and Jackson Mansfield. Mansfield showed off a nice all-around game as he handled the ball with poise, played excellent defense, and knocked down three big shots. The Celtics outscored the Lakers by a slim 12-10 margin in the second half, but their halftime deficit was too much to overcome. Caleb Starr scored 8 points for the Celtics (2-1), Jaden Ryke and Jackson Mansfield each added 6 points. Jermon Johnson netted 5 points, and Harry Narens rounded out the scoring for the Celtics with 2 points. The Lakers (1-2) were led by Josh Sigmon’s 6 points. Eugene Conley, Aaren Sigmon, and Jonathan Fletcher each added 2 points for the Lakers.
The Southfield Rookie League will be OFF next Thursday (Nov. 24th) for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Rookie League will resume on Thursday, December 1st with each team’s final practice of the season. The playoffs will begin the following week on Thursday, December 8th.