The Pistons Academy Rookie League, presented by Kroger, continued league play on Thursday evening at Franklin Athletic Club in Southfield. Four teams were in action under the bright lights, with two others holding practice as the regular season marched on. For the Celtics and Suns, it was their first game and a chance to take what they’ve learned in practice over the past few weeks and put it to the test in a game situation. The Heat, coming off a big win last week, and the Wizards, looking to rebound from a close defeat last week, aimed to improve this week and use their game experience to their advantage.
Wizards 21, Celtics 11: The Wizards rebounded from a loss last week with a nice all-around effort in their 21-11 victory on Thursday night. David Moulder Jr. and Jaden Ryke got things going in the first half and provided a nice spark. Moulder Jr. was able to gather several offensive rebounds and convert them into easy layups, while Ryke put pressure on the defense with his driving ability. The Celtics (0-1) got off to a slow start, but were able to find a better rhythm late in the game. Early on, it was evident that it was the team’s first outing of the season, but they were able to create some nice plays in the second half and surely have many positives to build on moving forward. George Witte led the Celtics with 5 points, and was key in getting things going on the offensive end in the second half. His aggressive play and willingness to be a playmaker surely rubbed off on the rest of the team. Tarek Agha contributed 4 points and some nice defense for the Celtics. Noah Katzman rounded out the scoring for the Celtics with 2 points. The Wizards (1-1) were led by Player of the Game Xan Scheinfield’s 8 points, Jayen Bastani and Jaden Ryke each added 4 points, Max Freedman and David Moulder Jr. netted 2 points, and Donovan Cheek knocked down a free throw for 1 point.
Heat 19, Suns 13: The Heat continued their winning ways with an impressive performance against the Suns on Thursday night. With the victory, the Heat (2-0) remain in the top spot of the Rookie League Standings. The Suns (0-1) jumped out to 10-8 halftime lead behind the strong play of Alex Ashare. He was key in running the offense, anchoring the defense, and providing great hustle and effort. Following the halftime break, the Heat made some nice adjustments. It was clear they wanted to amp up the energy on defense, as they forced the Suns into many turnovers and were able to turn steals into fast break points. The Heat outscored the Suns 11-3 in the second half, resulting in a 19-13 victory. Asher Langwell and Langston Johnson led the Heat with 6 points each, Zachary Kraft added 4 points including one very nice mid-range jump shot, Matthew Sherman scored 2 points, and Jace Bernard netted a free throw for 1 point. The Suns played a nice game, but were unable to withstand the second half flurry from the Heat. They will look to improve on what was a very solid first outing of the season against arguably the strongest team to this point. The Suns were led by Ashare’s 6 points, Brody Nagaj’s 3 points, and Jermon Johnson and Zion Mwanjabala’s 2 points.