The Pistons Academy Rookie League, presented by Kroger, began game action on Thursday night inside the gymnasium at Franklin Athletic Club in Southfield. Four of the six teams were in action, with the remaining two teams holding an additional practice before they get the chance to play their first games next week. “Overall, it was a great first night of game action in our Southfield Rookie League,” said League Director Bryan Bollin. “We had two well-played games, great attendance and a supportive crowd, and each team improved as the night went on … We are excited for next week to see the improvements these teams are able to make,” said Bollin. For a complete recap of Thursday night’s action, as well as the full season schedule, please continue reading below:
Heat 20, Rockets 3: The Heat jumped out to an early lead behind strong play from Jace Bernard, as he was able to get behind the defense and knock down a couple of open shots. Kayla Hairston came off the bench to give the Heat a nice spark in the second quarter. She did a great job of pushing the ball in transition and finding the open teammate while also hitting two shots of her own. The Rockets (0-1) struggled to get anything going offensively, as the Heat (1-0) played some very solid defense. Damon Richmond did a nice job of setting up the Rockets offense, but they were unable to find many open shots. Benjamin Smith scored 2 points for the Rockets and Hayden Schwartzenfeld split a pair of free throws. For the Heat, Hairston, Chase Rozenzweig, and Davis Langwell each contributed 4 points, Bernard led the Heat with 6 points, and Langston Johnson added a nice put back on the offensive glass for 2 points. The Heat were the better team on Thursday night, but Coach Banks and the Rockets are a good team that will build chemistry and improve as the season unfolds.
Lakers 14, Wizards 12: In the second game of our Thursday night doubleheader, the Lakers squeaked out a narrow two-point win in the first game for both teams. In a back-and-forth affair, the Lakers and Wizards traded baskets throughout the game. Outscoring the Wizards 7-6 in both the first and second half, the Lakers were able to escape with the victory. In a heart breaker for the Wizards, a game in which they played very tough defense, Drew Richmond led the way with 4 points. Jaden Ryke, Max Freedman, Xan Scheinfield, and David Moulder Jr. each added 2 points for the Wizards in a very balanced scoring effort, a result of their unselfish play and trust in their teammates to make plays. For as well as the Wizards (0-1) played, they came up just a little bit short. The Lakers (1-0) proved too much to handle as they made big plays down the stretch. With just under two minutes remaining and the Wizards leading 10-9, Jonah Zekman hit a three-pointer from the right wing to put the Lakers up 12-10. On the next trip down the floor, Zekman would add a baseline jumper to cap his personal 5-0 run, lifting the Lakers to a 14-12 victory. Zekman led the way for the Lakers with 9 points, with Caleb Starr adding 5 points.