Stoney Creek tops Utica, spoils Hinkle's coaching debut

The Cougars used a 23-7 third quarter to claim the season opener

By: Timothy Pontzer | C&G Newspapers | Published December 5, 2016

UTICA — Rochester Hills Stoney Creek started the 2016-17 campaign on the right note, utilizing a strong second half to take down Utica High 59-42 Dec. 5.

"This was a great way to start the season," said SC coach Steve Norgrove. "It was a good team win on the road. The nice thing is we get to go back to practice and clean some things up, but this gives us confidence out of the gate."

In the season opener for both clubs, the Cougars outpaced the Chieftains 23-7 in the third quarter to pull away. The run melted away a 25-20 halftime lead for the home side.

"I call this a tale of two halves," said Utica coach Dave Hinkle. "In the first half, we had high intensity, and we were controlling things. Mental lapses in the third quarter led to easy buckets for them, which frazzled us and got things out of sync, which led to even more buckets."

Junior guard Nate Davis led all scorers, pushing the Stoney Creek attack with 18 points. Fellow junior Michael Melaragni added 14 for the Cougars, a dozen of which came in the second half.

"In the first half, we were a little bit out of sync," Norgrove said. "Our passes weren't crisp, but it was the first game of the year, so you can expect a little of that. At halftime we made a lot of adjustments and were very unselfish in the second half, and that led to great opportunities."

Stoney Creek notched eight steals, collecting four in the third quarter alone. The turnovers led to transition points and a comeback victory.

"We adjusted our defense and really got in the passing lanes," Norgrove said. "Those steals ignite our offense, gives us energy and really deflates them on their end. (Utica) worked hard tonight, but when you get some steals and start running, it makes it very hard to come back against us."

The contest marked Hinkle's head coaching debut, but it was far from his first time on the Utica sidelines. Hinkle has been with the program for 14 years, previously helming the JV team and serving as a varsity assistant. Despite the loss, the new Chieftain leader took some positives from the night.

"The energy and intensity was there, the mistakes were just above the shoulders," Hinkle said. "We played a great 16 minutes, but the one thing we have to learn is how to play a full 32. They'll learn, and we will watch tape and get better."

Utica junior guard Kavon Higdon topped his squad with 12 points. Senior captains Zack Arafat and Omaure Miller each chipped in seven.