Monday, February 28, 2011
A lesson to be learned from Oxford wrestling
Congratulations to the Oxford wrestling team for an amazing win over defending state champion Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the Division 1 state wrestling final on Saturday. Such an occurrence is the perfect high school sports story of a team that's never won any state title before rallying to oust a perennial athletic powerhouse.
Speaking of which, Kosmo was intrigued to see a quote from Oxford head coach Brad Keeney when he said "We have 14 Oxford kids. We have no recruits. 14 Oxford kids. We won the state title."
Ah yes, the whole lament about how private schools can recruit and it's not fair.
Kosmo doesn't bring this up to fault or blame Keeney, who was understandably so hyped up and in the moment.
His statement was obviously one many associated with athletics at public schools like to take at private school juggernauts such as Catholic Central.
Kosmo never has been a fan of that from public schools. One, public schools with open enrollment have been known to recruit. Two, especially in this down economy, lots of families out there can't afford to send their kids to private schools anyway.
Gee, here's a concept. Instead of griping and moaning about the talent at private schools, how about ACTUALLY WORKING HARD AND BEING DISCIPLINED TO GET TO THAT LEVEL YOURSELF IN ORDER TO BEAT THEM.
Oxford didn't need to gripe and complain, and they never did. They beat Catholic Central fair and square through lots of work, developing youth wrestlers within the community and seizing the moment when it came.
Wow! What a concept. Hard work, discipline, good youth programs and not pouting.
All are traits Oxford showed and why they are deserving champions. The Wildcats provided the formula every other jealous parent or coach of a public school should heed. Nothing is ever impossible, except for those who cry "Woe is me" all the time and expect that to improve their situation.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Basketball finals staying at Breslin
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has announced that the state girls and boys basketball finals, both of which are currently held at Michigan State University's Breslin Center, will remain at Breslin Center until 2017.
The organization announced the six-year contract extension early on Thursday.
In Kosmo's view, this is a good move. The central location and facility is ideal for the event, and it's good to have continuity. It's hurt the girls a little bit in recent years moving the event every couple of years from Mt. Pleasant to East Lansing, then to Ypsilanti and then back to East Lansing.
Now, this takes any uncertainty out of the equation.
- All eyes this weekend will be on Battle Creek when the state team wrestling finals take place at Kellogg Arena. As for Kosmo's prediction, he'd be stunned if No. 1 and defending state champion Novi Detroit Catholic Central and No. 2 Oxford didn't meet in the state final late Saturday afternoon.
The Shamrocks and Wildcats have been the two best teams and on a collision course all season, and it would only be fitting for them to decide the state title.
Given the way each has wrestled this season, it'd be an upset if the matchup didn't take place.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Great move by Oak Park
The last few years have not been good for Oak Park athletics, with struggling teams, transfer after transfer going in and out and coaching turnover that can best be described as a revolving door.
But Oak Park might have pulled off the best coaching hire Kosmo has EVER seen in the county recently when it hired legendary head coach Greg Carter to lead its football program.
It's a simply brilliant move by Oak Park. There aren't better coaches than Carter, who built powerhouses at Detroit DePorres and Inkster.
Not only will Carter bring a winning brand of football, but he'll make sure his kids have character and discipline, something Oak Park desperately needs.
It may be February, but Kosmo is already looking forward to checking out Oak Park football this Fall.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
West Bloomfield no fluke now
At the start of the season, not much was expected out of the West Bloomfield boys basketball team, but the Lakers proved naysayers wrong by getting off to a tremendous start and beating Southfield and Pontiac in January. But by then, many probably thought the Lakers would start to struggle since teams would take more notice of them, which would lead to a second-half swoon.
Well, forget that.
West Bloomfield backed up its home win against Southfield by winning at Southfield on Tuesday. The Lakers are now tied for first in the OAA Red with Clarkston, although West Bloomfield still has to play at Clarkston this year.
Still, the win over the Bluejays shows that West Bloomfield is indeed for real and that no second-half swoon is forthcoming.
- Milford hasn't had much success in boys basketball over the years, but the Mavericks had a long-overdue moment in the sun by winning at Walled Lake Central in the first round of the KLAA tournament on Thursday. The Vikings entered with only one loss all year in the KLAA North, but Milford went on the road and earned a surprising route of Central in a 51-34 victory. The Mavericks effort should be applauded and we'll see if the momentum carries over to next week
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Regionals in name only
It's the regional round of the state wrestling tournament, both for teams and individuals, which obviously means it's time for teams to gas up their buses given some of the sites area teams have to drive to.
Oxford had to drive to Saginaw Heritage for its team regional on Wednesday, and then the 12 individuals who qualified for regionals will have to drive to East Kentwood for that individual regional on Saturday.
Birmingham Brother Rice had to travel to Roseville for its team regional on Wednesday, so Oxford wasn't the only one with a regional site about a million miles from its school.
Such a thing tends to happen lots of high school sports, which doesn't make sense in the bigger sports. Kosmo can understand in the sports where there aren't as many teams such as hockey, skiing, lacrosse or gymnastics, but for wrestling or soccer teams to have over 2-hour drives to regionals is simply bizarre.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Big week for Pontiac
This is about as challenging of a week as can be for the Pontiac boys basketball team, which is tied for first in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division with West Bloomfield, Southfield and Clarkston.
After this week, we should know whether Pontiac will be in the hunt for a league title until the end since the Phoenix have road games at Southfield on Tuesday and at Clarkston on Friday.
The interesting dynamic here though is that Pontiac head coach Robert Rogers has never made winning a league title a top priority.
Rogers has always been quoted as saying his team builds itself for 28 games, essentially meaning the team turns on a switch once the playoffs arrive following the 20 regular season games.
Turning on a switch is extremely difficult to do, but somehow Rogers' teams at Pontiac Northern and Pontiac over the past 10 years or so have been able to do it with all their playoff success.
It's a sure bet that Pontiac will be ready for the playoffs, but Kosmo hopes the Phoenix also have full intensity for this week. Winning a state title is rare, so any chance players have at winning some kind of championship should be one that's pursued hard.
A league title may not be like a deep run in the state tournament, but it's still something players can carry the rest of their lives, so here's hoping Pontiac keeps that in mind this week.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Great honor for Country Day's Williams
As if this season wasn't going good enough for Birmingham Detroit Country Day senior boys basketball player Amir Williams, given he's putting up monster numbers and is playing for the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Class B, Williams has earned another prestigious honor.
Williams has been named to the West roster for this year's McDonald's All-American High School basketball game, which will take place in Chicago next month.
The selection comes months after Williams was named to the U.S. under-18 national team last summer.
It'll be the second year in a row a player from Country Day has been selected for the game.
Guard Ray McCallum, Jr. participated in last year's game.
- Those affiliated with the Oxford wrestling team are definitely breathing a sigh of relief after the Wildcats passed a major test by outlasting Davison on Wednesday in a district-final matchup of the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams in the state.
It appears as if Oxford is a good bet to return to Battle Creek, sight of the state quarterfinals/semifinals and finals. The Wildcats will be heavily favored in their regional at Saginaw Heritage.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
A great night for Waterford Mott and Kettering hockey
Last Saturday night was another installment in what has become a wonderful annual tradition put on by the Waterford Mott and Waterford Kettering boys hockey teams.
The Captains and Corsairs played a "Two Teams One Cause" cancer fundraiser game at Lakeland Ice Arena, with proceeds from the game being donated to the American Cancer Society and local player Kyle Brown, who is currently battling Lymphoma.
The numbers are still coming in, but as of this moment, nearly $7,500 has been raised from the game via T-Shirt sales, back sales and jersey sponsorships.
Mott ended up winning the game on the ice, 9-1, but both teams came away winners for the cause they promoted and the money that was raised.
- The first sign that the playoffs for winter sports are almost here is the fact that the state wrestling tournament is actually here now. Team district action started on Wednesday and will continue on Thursday, while individual districts will be held on Saturday. Team regionals will be held next Wednesday.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
As good as it gets for girls hoops
Technically, regular season non-league games that are played in February don't mean anything.
There are no league titles at stake and teams are just gearing up for the state tournament that is just around the corner.
But there's a game on Wednesday that'll be as meaningful as a non-league regular season game in February can be.
The state's No. 1 team in Class B, Birmingham Detroit Country Day, will travel to Inkster to play what's the No. 1 team in Class A.
Both teams are unbeaten.
Neither will meet each other in the state tournament, so this will be a great matchup to possibly see who is the de facto best team in the state. It should be a fantastic battle.
- Following a win over Lakeland on Monday, the Waterford Kettering girls basketball team is still undefeated at 14-0. The Captains probably don't want to here this, but Kosmo hopes for their sake they don't finish 20-0 in the regular season. It's awfully hard for a team to make a successful run in the postseason having not lost, given such a team rarely learns to respond to the adversity that usually occurs during the one-and-done format of the state tournament. The only exception is if a team is an absolute powerhouse loaded with Division I college players, which Kettering is not.
The Captains are a fantastic team that plays well together, but it might help them in the long run if a team like Canton beats them in the KLAA tournament.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Small school, but blue-chip football factory
Signing Day has come and gone, and Kosmo the other day was glancing at the list of Oakland County athletes who signed on to play a sport in college.
Once again, the K-Man is amazed by what's taking place with the Southfield Christian football program.
Despite being a small school that has about 25 kids on the roster and a practice field that can best be described as cramped, the Eagles produced two more Division I football players.
Shafer Johnson signed with Central Michigan, while Bryan Ford signed with Ball State.
Both are big lineman who excelled with the Eagles.
This makes it four Division I players the Eagles have produced in the last two years.
Former linebacker/defensive end Taylor Calero is at Michigan State, while running back Devon Bailey is at Northern Illinois.
Not even a lot of the big-time programs across the state have produced four Division I players in two years, that's definitely a tremendous achievement for a small Christian school that has only had football for five years.
- Looks like Seaholm senior Shawn Conway is back in the fold for his team. After an absence, Conway returned to the lineup and scored 26 points for the Maples in a win at Berkley on Friday night.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Two of Kosmo's favorites going into MHSSCA Hall of Fame
This Friday, two of Kosmo's favorite people of all-time will receive a nice honor by the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association.
Rochester Adams softball/basketball coach Fran Scislowicz and longtime Royal Oak Daily Tribune writer Jim Evans will be inducted in the MHSCCA Hall of Fame.
Scislowicz is obviously going in for his 20-plus years of coaching at Adams, while Evans is going in as a special contributor.
It's an honor well-deserved for both.
Scislowicz has been one the county's most reknown coaches for years, helping build lots of successful teams and more importantly, successful kids.
Evans simply is one of the best in the journalism business. He's not only great at what he does, but is as classy a human being as you'll find.
- Further congratulations should also go out to the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep girls basketball team, which clinched the outright title in the Catholic League A-West Division last week. The Fighting Irish shared the title last year, so technically that's back-to-back titles for Pat Battani and his crew.
- Southfield and Clarkston will play a much-anticipated rematch on Friday, and if the Wolves win, it will launch Clarkston into a tie for first in the OAA Red and probably further Dan Fife's legend.
Despite not having a go-to scorer and suffering some unexpected losses already, Clarkston contending for a league title is once again a tribute to the brilliance of Fife.