Royal Oak High boys basketball finding formula for success

By: Christian Davis | Royal Oak Review | Published January 19, 2011

 Royal Oak High senior Terrell Nickerson goes up for a shot in traffic in a game earlier this season.

Royal Oak High senior Terrell Nickerson goes up for a shot in traffic in a game earlier this season.

Photo by Adam Sparkes

ROYAL OAK — Following the game with Hazel Park High Jan. 7, Royal Oak High boys basketball coach Gary Sharpe said he saw exactly what he was looking for — a spent team.

It was a team that had expended every ounce of energy in the game just played.

“That’s the way it should be,” Sharpe said during practice Jan. 12. “Hopefully, they learn how hard you have to play to win.”

The Ravens’ effort helped them to a victory against a team opposing coaches felt were the odds-on favorite to win the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

“After we beat them, our confidence was up, and we feel like we can beat any team,” senior Shane Carmen said.

The Ravens learned their lesson the hard way regarding playing with intensity.

“If we put forth that effort at the beginning, our record could be remarkably different,” said Sharpe, whose team was 2-4 overall, 1-1 in the Blue at press time.

“Playing hard leads to better defensive rebounding, better offensive rebounding and all those little things that you have to do to win.”

One of the division losses came against Birmingham Groves, a team it beat three times last season.

“It made us real mad and hit us real hard,” senior Terrell Nickerson said of the loss. “When Groves beat us, we realized we have to work harder than the other teams in the league.”

“We need to stay positive, but also work hard at the same time,” Carmen added. “We did that (against Hazel Park) and the result showed.”

Sharpe said the message seems to have stuck with his squad.

“From a coaching standpoint, you try to get them to play hard all the time. It’s a learned habit, just like making foul shots,” he said. “It’s a battle every day to consistently play hard. Then, once it becomes ingrained, it becomes a habit.”

The Ravens are also doing better defensively and offensively, whether it’s pressuring opponents into a mistake or handling themselves with poise when they get pressured.

“Everyone likes to shoot it, but can you take care of it?” Sharpe said.

Even with the win against Hazel Park, the Ravens realize nothing can be taken for granted.
“We can’t be satisfied,” Nickerson said. “We’re not done yet.”

Catch the Ravens against Oxford High at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at Oxford.