West Bloomfield High boys hoops looking to finish strong

By: Zachary Manning | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 24, 2019

 West Bloomfield High senior Rob Johnson goes up for a layup in a game against North Farmington Jan. 18. At press time, the Lakers were 5-6 overall and 3-3 in the OAA Red Division.

West Bloomfield High senior Rob Johnson goes up for a layup in a game against North Farmington Jan. 18. At press time, the Lakers were 5-6 overall and 3-3 in the OAA Red Division.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 West Bloomfield High junior Shamar Mathews pushes the ball up the floor in a game against North Farmington Jan. 18. The Lakers open district play with Auburn Hills Avondale Feb. 25 at Bloomfield Hills High.

West Bloomfield High junior Shamar Mathews pushes the ball up the floor in a game against North Farmington Jan. 18. The Lakers open district play with Auburn Hills Avondale Feb. 25 at Bloomfield Hills High.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WEST BLOOMFIELD — West Bloomfield High boys basketball coach Jeremy Denha knows his team can compete with the best teams in the state.

He’s seen his team battle the likes of River Rouge High (11-1), Clarkston High (11-2), North Farmington (8-3) and Macomb Dakota (9-4). River Rouge, Clarkston and Dakota won district titles a season ago.

At press time, the Lakers were 5-6 overall and 3-3 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, which put them tied for third in the division with Lake Orion High.

“I think early on, we were on the right track. We had a really competitive schedule. We played some of the top teams in the state before our league season started. Besides our (Detroit) Cass Tech game, I think we were competing pretty well with the other teams,” Denha said.

Denha said that 11 games in, he’s pretty happy with his group, but he wants to see more effort out of his guys. University of Toledo signee Donavan Moore has been battling an ankle injury and that’s hurt the Lakers, but once he returns, Denha believes his team will be in a good spot come playoff time.

A few players who Denha has seen step up have been senior Rob Johnson, junior Shamar Mathews and sophomore Jake Lansaw. However, down the stretch of the season, he wants everyone to prove that they can give the team quality minutes.

With nine games remaining before district play, Denha wants his team to clean some things up on both ends of the court and find an identity.

“At times, we’ve showed that we can be one of those hard-nosed teams that, from a defensive standpoint, can do a lot of different things. The last couple games have been a struggle, so I’m hoping that we can be that team that is really tough to score on,” Denha said.

As the season continues to progress and district play creeps closer, Denha has thought about some teams his group may see. The Lakers open district play with Auburn Hills Avondale. Should they win, Bloomfield Hills High will be waiting. The Lakers lost to the Black Hawks Jan. 11, but the two teams play again Feb. 15 at West Bloomfield. Waterford Mott and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s are on the other side of the bracket.

Denha said Avondale is one of the best-coached teams in the area and admitted that Bloomfield Hills has had the Lakers’ number over the last couple of meetings. However, he added that if his squad is able to get out of that district, his team would gain confidence and make some noise.

“I think this would be an awesome group to do that,” Denha said of making a run in the playoffs. “I think this group is pretty close. I think they like each other. They’re a fun group of boys, and I think this group would just totally have a phenomenal time with that.”