Rochester Adams and Oakland Christian fall in regional semis

By: Timothy Pontzer | Rochester Post | Published March 13, 2018

 Rochester Adams freshman guard Ethan Emerzian drives past a defender during a Class A regional semifinal contest with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s March 12 at West Bloomfield High. The Highlanders finished the season at 14-9 overall.

Rochester Adams freshman guard Ethan Emerzian drives past a defender during a Class A regional semifinal contest with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s March 12 at West Bloomfield High. The Highlanders finished the season at 14-9 overall.

Photo by Donna Agusti

ROCHESTER — A margin that resembles a high-scoring football game actually represented the end of the road for Rochester Adams on the hardwood.

The Highlanders boys basketball team fell 41-35 to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in a Class A regional semifinal, ending the season in a back-and-forth affair. Adams held multiple leads in the first quarter, before both sides were tied at 20 at halftime.

The Eaglets held a slim 30-26 advantage after the third, converting free throws to maintain the lead and victory as the clock wound down.

“This was a tough one. To come in the first quarter and get a lead, I knew it would be different throughout the game,” Adams coach Brad Crighton said. “I have some really young kids with the freshmen and sophomores, and they showed it at times with the shots they were taking. I’m still very proud of our effort tonight.”

Crighton said his team made good adjustments at halftime and played at a pace and style they wanted. However, the success of St. Mary’s at the charity stripe kept the game out of reach late.

“We had some good looks,” Crighton said. “We missed some in the third and some tight ones in the fourth. They hit their free throws late. We actually had them where we wanted, but you have to give them credit. They knocked them down when they had to. This was a close game, and it just didn’t go our way in the end.”

Despite the loss, Crighton was thrilled with the success his group enjoyed this season. Last year saw the Highlanders go winless. This season, Adams earned its second district crown in three years with a 63-45 win over Utica Eisenhower March 9 at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.

“It’s hard to forsee this exactly, but I did notice a big difference in the way the boys worked in the offseason,” Crighton said after the March 9 victory. “I had a group of guys getting better, and they were always willing to come in and work. It’s kind of amazing to go 0-21 and then win a district, but these kids kept fighting. They’re a great group.”

Crighton said the ability to hang a banner checked off his squad’s chief chore for the season.

“This was our only goal,” Crighton said of the district championship. “I thought we had the team to do it, but we’re a young team, so I wanted us to be playing our best basketball of the year late in the year, and I’m proud that we were able to do that.”

The Highlanders finished the year at 14-9 overall and placed third in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.

“We heard all the talk about being a winless team, and it was really annoying. This kind of makes a statement that Adams is back and we’re ready to start winning some games again as a program,” senior guard Jack Jenkins said of the run.

In Class D action, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian ended its season with a 79-50 loss to Southfield Christian March 12 at Marine City Cardinal Mooney. It marked the third time the Lancers fell to the Eagles this year, with the previous two occurring in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference play.

Despite the loss, OCS coach Dennis Hopkins was proud of his club, which finished at 17-6 overall. The Lancers earned a second straight district title with a 62-46 win over Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes March 9.

“There are a lot of people that would trade with us in a heartbeat,” Hopkins said. “I’m proud of their work and their growth over the years. We pushed them hard, and they responded. They are a great group of kids.”

Hopkins cited his senior group as a backbone for the squad.

“I can’t say enough about these five seniors,” Hopkins said. “They earned two district championships. They have put us back on track with Oakland Christian basketball.”