Ypsilanti boys basketball team opens its season with dominating win over Pioneer
Jeff Sainlar | AnnArbor.com
Because of a change to the Southeastern Conference's scheduling, the Ypsilanti and Pioneer boys basketball team weren't suppose to play each other this year.
Pioneer coach Rex Stanczak made sure to schedule the Phoenix in non-conference play because, he said, they're probably the best team in the league.
He'd better hope so. If there are any teams better, the Pioneers will be in for a long season.
Ypsilanti dominated every aspect of the game Friday night, defeating Pioneer 70-38.
Tristan Simmons led all scorers with 21 points for Ypsilanti, including five in the first quarter as the Phoenix (1-0) jumped out to a 15-6 lead.
Pioneer had 12 turnovers in that quarter and with a lack of height creating a disadvantage on the boards, turnovers were the last thing the Pioneers could afford.
"My guess is that will be our worst turnover game of the year. I’d be shocked if we turned the ball over more than we did tonight," Stanczak said.
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Many of those turnovers were created by one-on-one pressure from Ypsilanti's Derrick Richardson, who would harass whoever brought the ball up the court for Pioneer.
“He’s by far our best defender; he can guard 5-8 to 6-8,” Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks said of Richardson's play.
But Richardson's minutes were limited due to illness and Pioneer briefly got back in the game in the second quarter.
Ypsilanti held a 15-6 lead after the first quarter, but Pioneer (1-1) committed 10 fewer turnovers as the teams played pretty even in the second quarter. Ypsilanti led by as much as 12 in the half, but led just 26-19 at the break after Nick Bertoia hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring the deficit to single digits.
Ypsilanti started the second half on a 9-0 run, with Daryl Tipton scoring his only points of the game on a 3-pointer to give Ypsilanti a 35-19 lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
"We got into a stretch where we utilized our backdoor cuts and we tightened the game up then for some reason we came out in the second half and we let them dictate again," Stanczak said. "We allowed them to impose their will on the game."
Pioneer didn't score its first points of the second half until the 4:30 mark of the third quarter, but started to create a little momentum as Jimmy Holman scored seven straight Pioneer points to bring the score to 40-30 at the 1:50 mark. Holman finished with a team-high 12 points.
Ypsilanti would score the next 20 points as more than five minutes of game clock would elapse before Ypsilanti allowed the Pioneers another point.
"They settled it down and made a lot better decisions and then we started looking inside," Brooks said.
"We just had to slow it down, control the tempo," Simmons said.
The Phoenix scored 12 of their points during the run from the free-throw line as they were often fouled underneath the hoop by undersized Pioneers going for rebounds.
Phoenix center Mamadou Ba finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds on the night and Marcus Palmer had eight points and six rebounds.