Rochester Adams coach Isaiah Novak coaches his team during their game against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North.

Rochester Adams coach Isaiah Novak coaches his team during their game against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Rochester Adams retools, readies for OAA Red gauntlet

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Rochester Post | Published December 6, 2023

 Rochester Adams senior Peter Kardasis attempts a three-pointer during Adams’ 74-59 win over Macomb L’Anse Creuse North Dec. 1 at Adams High School.

Rochester Adams senior Peter Kardasis attempts a three-pointer during Adams’ 74-59 win over Macomb L’Anse Creuse North Dec. 1 at Adams High School.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

 Rochester Adams junior Trent LaGarde prepares to shoot a free throw.

Rochester Adams junior Trent LaGarde prepares to shoot a free throw.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


ROCHESTER HILLS — Following a historic season for the Rochester Adams boys basketball program, the Highlanders are sporting a new-look squad heading into this season.

With new players transferring in, key players graduating, veteran leaders stepping up, and even a new head coach at the helm, it’s your average college basketball headline, but it’s quite the change for a Highlanders team that won the school’s first-ever regional championship last season.

Last season was all about replacing leadership from a 2022 Adams team that brought home back-to-back district titles. Now, without five seniors and Oakland Activities Association-Red honoree Brady Prieskorn, who is committed to play football at Michigan, Adams will lean on its returning duo of senior leaders in Will Dee and Peter Kardasis.

“Our five seniors all know what it takes to be successful day in and day out, but there is no doubt that the team is led by Will Dee and Peter Kardasis,” Adams coach Isaiah Novak said. “They played huge roles in the playoff push last year, so they know what it takes to win big games, and they hold themselves and their teammates to that standard each and every day.”

Novak, who coached Madison Heights Lamphere the past two seasons, took over the Adams job following former Adams coach Jaret Thomas’ departure for Auburn Hills Avondale in April.

Novak is a coach who prides his team’s identity on culture and doing things the right way, and Novak said his team has taken that to heart going into the season.

“I tell the team often, ‘Culture is our strength,’” Novak said. “We have a community of people who work hard, are resilient, and have high expectations, and that has been instilled in our athletes. We have an entire team of leaders who do things right on and off the court. I have always said, ‘Do things right, good things will happen,’ and this team embodies that mantra.”

Good things are happening for the Highlanders right now as they sit 2-0 on the season, including a 52-48 road win over Milford, who went 20-5 last year, Nov. 28 to open the season.

Kardasis averaged 19 points and six rebounds while Dee added 15.5 and four assists per game during Adams’ opening week of play.

Kardasis, an OAA Red all-league honoree, and Dee, an OAA Red all-league honorable mention, have molded into the leaders Adams needs them to be this season, and they’re doing it on and off the court.

“We learned a lot last year on how to lead a team,” Kardasis said. “We weren’t really as vocal and we didn’t really know how to lead, but our coach last year (Jaret Thomas) and coach Novak have really helped us become better leaders and given us the confidence to lead this team. It’s hard to lead a team if your teammates around you don’t have trust in you, so our teammates trust us, and that helps us lead the team.”

Trust goes both ways, and with a healthy number of new faces, Adams’ returning playmakers are trusting in the new ones to help rebuild the team chemistry to where it was for their state tournament run last season.

Juniors Trent LaGarde and Luke Marcial are both returning players who are looking to make a substantial impact after playing quality minutes for the Highlanders last season. Both are playmakers in their own right, and both will help continue the chemistry from last season’s squad.

“I just feel like we got four guys that played pretty good minutes coming back,” Dee said. “They just know what it takes to be in that position, and we got a lot of guys that are close and are like a close-knit family. I think our chemistry will help us get back to where we were.”

The Adams second unit has the potential to be one of its X-factors this season as senior Aaron Troxell and Jake Andrzejak are both expected to be the senior leaders off the bench, while juniors Joey Klott and Lachlan Tillotson will be Adams’ spark plugs for the second unit this season. Freshman Cannon Flynn, who will be leaned on as a role player this year, will be a name to keep an eye on for Adams.

For Adams, there was no bigger surprise than the additions of freshman Clark, a 6-foot-4 big, and sophomore Colin Langdon, a 6-foot-7 big.

The Langdon brothers transferred from Texas this season, and Colin has already asserted himself into the starting lineup as a threat on the boards and behind the perimeter.

“He can do just about everything for us,” Kardasis said. “That’s going to be a big piece in filling Brady’s role that we’re going to miss.”

If Adams’ first two wins have shown anything, it’s that the Highlanders are going to be a force to be reckoned with behind the perimeter.

Tallying double-digit 3-pointers made in each win so far, Adams has an offensive approach most Michigan fans are accustomed to seeing from John Beilein’s time with the Michigan Wolverines.

In the OAA Red with offensively strong teams such as Oak Park, North Farmington, Ferndale, Clarkston and Birmingham Groves, Adams plans to get their competitive edge behind the arch.

“One of our biggest strengths and weaknesses is that we’re going to live and die by shooting a lot of threes,” Dee said. “That’s one thing we need to work on, but at the same time I think when we get hot, we can compete with anyone.”

Adams was scheduled to host Oxford Dec. 5, after press time, before facing Rochester Dec. 8 at Oakland University.

Adams will open up OAA Red league play against Clarkston Dec. 19 at Clarkston High School.

Finishing second-to-last in the league last season, Adams will look to compete in a league where every team finished above .500 last season.

“I remember going into North Farmington and Ferndale our first time and we lost by, like, 50 both games, and it prepared us for the next time we played them at home,” Kardasis said. “It was actually two close games that we could’ve won. That really prepared us for the tournament, and I’m excited to play those teams again.”