Vikings capture coveted title

By: Christian Davis | Madison - Park News | Published March 7, 2016

 Hazel Park won the OAA Gold title, beating Birmingham Groves 64-60 March 1 at home. The championship was the first for the program since 1996. Pictured, Cameron Boatman glides to the hoop.

Hazel Park won the OAA Gold title, beating Birmingham Groves 64-60 March 1 at home. The championship was the first for the program since 1996. Pictured, Cameron Boatman glides to the hoop.

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HAZEL PARK — For the first time in two decades, the Hazel Park High boys basketball program has laid claim to a league championship.

The Vikings beat Birmingham Groves 64-60 March 1 at home to clinch the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division. The Falcons entered the contest one game behind Hazel Park and looking for a share of the title.

“Since this summer, we set out to make history,” Hazel Park sophomore Carl Bow Jr. said. “That was the goal. I’m just happy we did it.”
Bow scored 19 points, including eight in the final quarter.

“Words can’t even describe it; just credit to my guys,” Hazel Park coach Brandon Barrett said. “Every day they come to work, put their hard hats on, buckle up their shoes and say, ‘Coach, let’s just go for it.’ That was kind of our mindset the whole year — come to every game with our hard hats on and lay it on the line. They did that, so I’m so proud of them.”

The Vikings never trailed in the March 1 game and built a 17-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Groves methodically chipped away at the advantage for the rest of the game. The Falcons cut it to one-point heading into the fourth quarter and trailed by two with 26 seconds left before three free throws by Bow Jr. helped seal the game.

“We knew coming in that Groves was a second-half team,” Barrett said. “We were prepared for that, but preparing for it and doing it is sometimes hard. Credit Groves, I think they should do well in the districts.”
Groves’ Marcus Pittman led all scorers with 24.

The Vikings finish the Gold at 9-1 and moved to 13-6 overall at press time.

The Vikings are also a young squad with two seniors on the roster and only one, James Jenkins, starting. He finished with a team-high 20 points, with 16 coming in the second half.

“To send him out in his final home game like this, you couldn’t ask for a better ending,” Barrett said.

Hazel Park played Hamtramck Frontier in a Class B district opener after press time. The winner takes on either Detroit Collegiate Prep or Detroit Central Collegiate at 7 p.m. March 9 at Prep. For more on basketball, visit www.candgnews.com.

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