Hazel Park High boys basketball may be one of the best teams in the state

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published February 2, 2018

 Hazel Park High senior Khari Adams takes a shot Jan. 30 against Clarkston High. At press time, the Vikings were 11-1 overall and 5-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Hazel Park High senior Khari Adams takes a shot Jan. 30 against Clarkston High. At press time, the Vikings were 11-1 overall and 5-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Photo by Sean Work

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HAZEL PARK — When Hazel Park High’s boys basketball team played Clarkston High Jan. 30, it did so in front of a sold-out crowd on a cold Tuesday night in Hazel Park.

The crowd was boisterous and the atmosphere was lively.

Hazel Park coach Brandon Barrett said “the atmosphere here tonight was probably the (best)since I’ve been here.”

Barrett is in his fifth season leading the Vikings. When he took over as Hazel Park’s coach, he inherited a program that had won just two games in the season prior to his arrival.

Since then, the Vikings have won two Oakland Activities Association division championships, with one coming in the Gold in their 2015-16 campaign and the other in the White last season, which was a title that was shared with Troy High.

Last season, Hazel Park also came away with the program’s first district championship since 1965, according to the school’s athletic director, David Muylaert.

Despite how good things have been since Barrett’s arrival, this may be the program’s best season yet.

At press time, Hazel Park was 11-1 overall (with the team’s only loss coming against Clarkston) and 5-1 in the OAA Red Division.

Barrett discussed some keys to the program’s transformation.

“Overall, the preparation, the guys’ dedication,” he said. “We’ve really hunkered down and wanted to be competitive, so we put in the work to be competitive, and it pays off. … They’ve been doing a fantastic job.”

The crowd that came out to see the Vikings take on Clarkston is perhaps the best indication of just how far the program has come.

“I thought it was really rewarding for the boys to see that, because a lot of what they’ve been doing has gone unnoticed,” Barrett said. “People don’t see us in here late at night, the three- and four-hour practices. … So, for them to come out and have support like that, that goes a long way. … I think they really deserve to be in the position that they’re in right now.”

Barrett believes his team still has plenty of potential left in it.

“I really think we haven’t hit our ceiling yet,” Barrett said. “We’re still a work in progress. We’re not finished by any means at all.”

With the exception of freshman De’Andre Gillette, Hazel Park’s roster is made up entirely of seniors. Those seniors are Carl Bow, David Hearns, Kyle Washington, Devin Pettus, Khari Adams, Andrew Mendoza, Malik Allen-Johnson, Julian Jones and Maurice Jones.

Although Barrett has been enthusiastic about his teams before, there is something different about this season.

“It’s more exciting this year,” he said. “It has a little bit more of a presence because all my freshmen are seniors now. I’ve watched these kids grow up right (in) front of my eyes. Very sentimental and emotional with them because we have spent so much time together. I want them to end on a high note.”

Coming up, Hazel Park plays at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at North Farmington before returning home to take on Bloomfield Hills High at 7 p.m. Feb. 16.

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