Michigan signee Chris Hunter had a good holiday weekend. The 6-11 senior power forward/center was held to nine points and four rebounds in his Gary (Ind.) West Side team's season-opening loss to Chicago Farragut. Since then, though, Hunter and his team have fared considerably better.
The Cougars once again traveled to Illinois last weekend, where they competed in the Champaign News-Gazette Thanksgiving Tournament. West Side won a nail-biter in the opener, eking out a 63-62 overtime victory over Mahomet-Seymour. Hunter contributed 25 points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
In its next game, West Side faced Gary Wirt, and again rode a strong performance by Hunter to a narrow victory. The future U-M big man scored 23 and grabbed nine boards in the 57-51 win. The win moved the Cougars into the Tournament finale, where it would meet Thornton Fractional North.
In keeping with its first two victories in Champaign, West Side went down to the wire in the championship game, but once again held on to win, 50-46. Hunter was limited to nine field goal attempts, but managed to get to the line as well, and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds helping his team to take home top honors from the News-Gazette Tournament.
The Cougars will finally get to play on Indiana soil in the Munster (Ind.) Times Region Roundball Rumble, which opens play on Saturday in the Hammond Civic Center. West Side's opening-round opponent will be Lafayette Central Catholic, the No. 1 team in Indiana's Class A, which is led by 6-8 Ball State signee Tyler Best.
"Playing at the Civic Center gives you that big-game 'arena' feeling," Hunter told the Times. "We're gonna have a lot of people, friends, family and alumni from West Side at the game. I'm very excited."
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BridgtonAcademy.org, the web site of Bridgton (Me.) Academy, recently added reports on the first three basketball games of the season.
Bridgton center Amadou Ba (right), who has signed with Michigan, made an immediate impact in his first game with the Wolverines (the name of his prep team, as well as his future college team). Ba scored nine second-half points and 13 points total to help Bridgton to a 76-67 win over Redemption Christian Academy in the season opener.
Bridgton next traveled to Quebec City to play CEGEP Ste. Foy, cruising to an easy 102-65 win. The next day, the Wolverines -- composed exclusively of post-graduate prep school students -- played Canada's Laval University. The result was the team's first loss, by a 77-65 margin.
The site gave no statistics for Ba from the two most recent games. Bridgton's next game is Friday at Navy Prep.
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Michigan point guard signee Daniel Horton (right) found his playing time limited by foul trouble in the Cedar Hill (Tex.) Longhorns' game against Flower Mound on Tuesday, and ultimately fouled out. Nonetheless, Horton managed to knock down a couple of three-pointers en route to 12 points as Cedar Hill won, 55-50, moving to 4-0 on the year.
School Sports is among the publications that regard the Longhorns as one of the nation's top teams entering the season. In its recently released Preseason Top 25, the web site ranks Cedar Hill No. 15 nationally.
"The Longhorns are 65-8 over the past two years, thanks in large part to 6-foot-3 Michigan-bound senior shooting guard Daniel Horton, a Top 20 recruit this year," School Sports wrote. "Horton averaged better than 24 points per game as a junior. His younger brother, sophomore point guard Jason Horton, is one of the nation's top prospects in the Class of 2004."
Pontiac (Mich.) Northern is No. 11 in the same rankings. "The Huskies have four regulars returning this year, led by 6-foot-5 Michigan-bound Lester Abram, who averaged 20 points and almost 10 boards per game last year," said School Sports' "Outlook" for the team. "Other key players are Derrick Ponders, Dominique Hardaman and David Stephens."
Northern is the only Michigan team in School Sports' rankings. Likewise, the Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the state in preseason rankings by the Detroit Free Press and Prep Spotlight.
"Last years champs are back again and they are hungry for another title," wrote Prep Spotlight's Vince Baldwin. "All State Forward Lester Abram is the leader of this talented bunch. . . . Can it be Back-to-Back for Pontiac?"
The Free Press believes so. "The defending Class A state champs return three starters, led by 6-foot-6 Lester Abram (Michigan), who averaged 21.3 points and 10.5 rebounds as a junior," the paper said.
The Free Press also recognized Abram (right) individually as the No. 3 player in the state, regardless of class, behind only Michigan State-bound post player Paul Davis of Rochester and Florida point guard signee Anthony Roberson of Saginaw. "He'll be more aggressive in looking for his shot and attacking the basket," the article stated. "He may even play a little point guard." Furthermore, Abram was the subject of a feature article in the Free Press; to read that, click here.
Another Michigan signee, 6-9 power forward/center Graham Brown of Mio, ranked No. 7 among seniors and No. 8 overall in the player rankings. "He came on strong last season," The Free Press wrote, "averaging 20 ppg, 14 rpg over the first 10 games and an incredible 28 ppg, 24 rpg the last 10. He has tremendous hands and is sound in the low post. If he gets the ball down low, he scores."
Brown was immediately preceded by one of the Wolverines' top targets in the junior class, 6-4 guard Dion Harris of Detroit Redford. "He is coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 21.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg and carried the Huskies to the PSL championship," the article stated. "He will be a bit more active around the basket and won't rely so much on his perimeter shooting. His jumper should be more consistent now."
At No. 10 on the list was the player most observers regard as Harris's top competition for the 2003 Mr. Basketball award, 6-6 wing Olu Famutimi of Flint Northwestern. "When he became eligible in the second semester following his transfer, he played in the shadow of Mr. Basketball Kelvin Torbert," the Free Press wrote. "This season the shadow will be his. Prep people think of him as a post player because he is so powerful, but he has a fine perimeter game and attitude."
Other U-M recruiting targets on the list included 6-9 junior center Walter Waters of Detroit Southeastern (No. 15) and his teammate 6-3 junior point guard Brandon Jenkins (No. 17), 6-1 junior point guard Brandon Jenkins of Detroit DePorres (No. 19), 6-6 sophomore forward Ronald Coleman of Romulus (No. 22), 6-7 sophomore post Jamaal Lock of Redford (No. 35), 6-10 junior center Drew Naymick of North Muskegon (No. 40) and 6-7 junior power forward Ije Nwankwo of Detroit Country Day (No. 46).
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