Huron boys hoops embrace ‘being hunted’ after OT victory over rival Skyline

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ANN ARBOR – Even the best teams have tough times.

Add in a rival who is hungry to beat you, besides not having played a game in 11 months, and you should expect the first game to be naturally rocky.

The Ann Arbor Huron boys’ basketball team experienced this Saturday firsthand as they had to eliminate a 57-51 win over crosstown rival Ann Arbor Skyline in overtime.

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It was as ugly a victory as it gets for the River Rats, who are considered one of the best teams in the state and a contender for the Division 1 State title, but who haven’t quite played that way on Saturday.

Part of it was Skyline’s fiery play, but the River Rats did each other a disservice.

Huron missed 20 free throws, returned the ball several times and left the door open for Skyline’s Jack Williams to score a 3-runner with 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into extra period.

But just like championship-caliber teams, the River Rats went into overtime, made eight free throws and allowed a basket to beat the Eagles.

“We got away,” Huron coach Waleed Samaha said. “To have a performance like that and still come out with a victory; you’d rather come out of there with a win after playing like that than lose and have all these (questions) like, “Wow, how did we lose so many points on the free throw line?” How have we returned the ball so many times? How many offensive rebounds have we given up? ‘

“There are a lot of things we didn’t do well, but we competed. When you compete, you have a chance every time.

Skyline was playing its third game in as many days and chose Huron for Saturday as a non-conference game after Huron struggled to find an opponent this week.

The Eagles could have missed out on a team of Huron’s caliber after back-to-back games, but Skyline coach Mike Lovelace wanted to assess where his team was compared to their rival and wanted to give the River Rats a shot. to finally enter the field. .

“Our players and their players love to compete on the side,” said Lovelace. “They know each other growing up. They have good respect for each other and just love to compete and they want to play.

“As soon as we got the OK Tuesday (from Ann Arbor Public Schools), I wanted to play. We were happy to help Huron, these guys have been sitting for so long and they wanted to play.

Skyline controlled the momentum for most of the game after resisting Huron’s opening push when the River Rats took an 18-6 lead, then led 23-11 after the first quarter.

The Eagles took a 38-35 lead in the fourth quarter and the two teams traded punches before tying themselves at the end of settlement.

Skyline only managed one field goal in the extra period and saw a significant late turnaround that helped Huron escape with the win.

Although Lovelace is happy with the effort, he said his team left some points on the ground that could have resulted in a different result.

“I feel like we had a lot of opportunities,” said Lovelace. “There were opportunities there to strengthen our lead, but some of our shots on the home stretch didn’t do us a favor. We tried to keep attacking because we had them on the ropes, and we took a few bad shots that they capitalized on.

Williams paced Skyline with 13 points and Will Gardner finished with 11 points for the Eagles, who have fallen to 2-1 this season.

It is clear that Skyline does not fear Huron. The Eagles were the only team to beat the River Rats last season and still play them tough.

With the hype surrounding the Huron team this season, the River Rats know they don’t have much room for error as they will have a target on their backs all season.

“We’re being hunted, so we just have to take that and train hard every day and keep going,” said Huron senior forward Kinsgley Perkins, who led the team with 19 points.

Senior Julian Lewis was next with 17 points and senior guard Devin Womack hit the double with 10 points.

Skyline and Huron will meet again next Friday for a Southeastern Conference Red game and Lewis knows the game – and the rest of their games – will be anything but easy.

“We want to stay humble until the end,” Lewis said. “We want to act like we are the worst and we have to be the best. We never accept to be the best because we have a goal on our back all year round and we know we have to work and keep working because if we don’t we can end up losing so we must remain humble and continue to work.

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