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Posted on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 8:43 a.m.

Huron High School basketball player A.J. Mathew discusses the new student cheering section and other things

By AJ Mathew

Huron High School senior A.J. Mathew shares his experiences in's "High School Hoops Journal." Mathew is a 4.0 student and four-year starting point guard for the River Rats, who reached the Class A state finals last season.

Mathew's third entry comes in the midst of the Huron boys basketball team's 11-game winning streak. Huron will face undefeated Ypsilanti tonight at Ypsilanti High School.


Huron's AJ Mathew scores in a recent game against Skyline. file photo

The season is flying by. It is already the middle of February. It feels like just yesterday we were on the track doing our conditioning (except for all this snow)! But I am not complaining because I am happy with where we are at - happy ... but not satisfied yet.

All basketball players know that the month of February is important. Everyone wants to be playing their best basketball heading into March because once the regular season is over, it is win or go home. The energy that is being created as March Madness approaches is crazy (in a good way)! Basketball fans are more tuned in than they have ever been. Everyone is getting fired up every time we hear that ball bounce, whether it be live on our home court or on national television. Our team is always talking basketball to each other or watching games together or playing NBA 2K11 together!

Every day as we enter Huron ready to practice, we walk through the cold and darkened athletic lobby and approach the gym doors. We walk into the Dome gym and the atmosphere suddenly changes - this is our house, the Green House. The Dome is lit up and you can almost hear the roar of the fans as you walk through the doors. Speaking of which, I would like to give a shout out to all the River Rat fans that participate in the new Huron student section so named - The Hype-Squad. We see you, we hear you, we know you are there and we love your support! Keep it up!

Back to practice. We go straight to the "Green Room" which is our locker room. Personally, this is my favorite place to be; I get goose bumps every time I go there. As we enter the locker room the first thing we see is our motto, "One team, one goal." We look at that every day before we take the floor because we know what is on the line every time we compete. The Green Room is where all the ups and downs happen, where the emotions are shown, where the team bonds. The most important thing is that it does not happen as individuals, it always happens as a whole, as a team, as a family. Every team hits adversity at different points in the season and being inside that locker room is like being in a place where we can never go wrong. On game day, it is where we strategize and where we regroup at halftime. We talk it out and correct the little things that can make a big difference for our team. The family atmosphere and the way everyone is coming to work day in and day out is phenomenal. The message is always there - we have one goal, and that is a state championship.

As the days go by, the intensity continues to build. We anxiously get the results of all the conference games and other competitors, but they never change our focus. Each game moves us one step closer. Our team is rather unique. We are a pretty humble group of guys, all loving the game of basketball. We have different ethnic backgrounds, religions, and long-term goals, but inside that locker room, we are all one. The excitement of March Madness is within each of us but looking at us, it is hard to see the excitement or intensity we feel. It is all on the inside. We do share camaraderie on the court, a belief in our coaches, a trust in each other and on occasion a few high-fives for things well done!

March Madness is huge, not only for Huron but for every basketball team around the country. Every team lives for March Madness. It will soon be crunch time where we will see everyone's hard work coming together. Our team knows that it is important that we take the proper steps every day and make the right moves because March is a month of upsets. If you take a short cut or do not give it your all every time you take the floor, you are bound to be upset because there is always someone trying to out work you. I am confident where we are going, and I cannot wait to tip off the month of March. But most importantly for Huron, we cannot look too far ahead and forget what is right in front of us. There is still a big chunk of the regular season left to play with great teams on the schedule. We will continue to take it day by day and do what we always do: Play Huron basketball.

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birch creek john

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

What an amazing young man. I hope this sort of exemplary behavior on the part of a student at one of our local high schools receives the amount of attention it deserves. Well done, young man.