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Posted on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

Ypsilanti completes Ann Arbor sweep, tops Huron for district title

By Freelance Journalist


Ypsilanti's Jaylen Johnson gets a rebound Friday against Huron.

Daniel Brenner |

Rich Rezler | for

After the way the Huron and Ypsilanti boys basketball teams hounded each other for 31 minutes, it was only fitting that a strong defensive play decided their Class A district final Friday night.

Ypsilanti junior guard Janeau Joubert broke up a Huron handoff attempt near midcourt and darted away with the ball. As his uncontested finger-roll layup fell through the net with 50 seconds remaining, Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks took two giants steps onto the court and pumped his fist.


The Phoenix (18-4) added a couple free throws before celebrating their 66-58 win in front of an estimated crowd of 1,400 at Skyline High School.


Huron sophomore Brian Walker jumps for a loose ball and fouls Ypsilanti junior Janeau Joubert in a Class A district final on Friday.

Daniel Brenner |

More Coverage: Photo gallery | Boxscore | Class A bracket

“We practice against handoffs in practice … and I saw I had the opportunity to stick my hand in and get my hand on the ball and steal it,” Joubert said. “From there I just told myself to take my time and make the layup. (A dunk) never crossed my mind. I just wanted the two points.”

Those two points put the brakes on Huron’s furious attempt to rally from a 16-point second-half deficit. The River Rats (15-7) got within 61-58 after a Brian Walker 3-pointer with 1:58 to play.

Instead, Ypsilanti completed its Ann Arbor trifecta by beating Pioneer, Skyline and Huron in consecutive games to win its second district title in three years.

“I’m glad we’re back over here. These are rivalries rekindled,” Brooks said of being back in a district with the Ann Arbor schools after a long hiatus. “This is great for the young guys. They can see the old rivalries that some of the old-timers talk about.”

The Phoenix will play Canton (17-6) in a regional semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Huron High School. South Lyon (16-7) and North Farmington (17-5) play in the other semifinal.

After a back-and-forth first half that featured four ties and eight lead changes, Ypsilanti looked like it might pull away early in the third quarter. The Phoenix scored the first nine points of the second half -- four of them on offensive putbacks by 6-foot-7 junior Jaylen Johnson -- to lead 43-30, and built that advantage to 55-39 with 1:19 left in the third quarter.

Johnson finished with 25 points, 10 of them on offensive rebounds, while the Phoenix capitalized on a considerable size advantage. Lavonte Davis, Ypsilanti’s other 6-7 starter, scored five points.

“Davis has really been carrying us for most of the season, but I’m really glad to see Jaylen start playing up to his potential that we all knew he had,” Brooks said. “He’s been playing like an All-American.”

Huron wasn’t ready to give up its quest for a fifth straight district title. The River Rats ramped up their defensive effort and fought back behind a pair of Chris Mosely 3-pointers some strong drives to the basket by sophomore Xavier Cochran.

Cochran, who scored a team-high 25 points, completed a traditional three-point play to close the lead to 59-55 with 2:22 left to play.

In the end, defense won the day.

“We had guys defending for their lives. I thought our defensive effort tonight was as good as it’s been all year,” Huron coach Waleed Samaha said. “We had some open looks that we didn’t knock down, but (Ypsilanti) makes it so hard. They just disrupt everything you’re trying to do.

“I’m proud of our kids and I have a great deal of respect for their kids and how hard and clean they play.”

The loss was Huron’s first in district tournament play since 2008. The River Rats had won 12 straight district games by an average of 19 points, including five by 23 or more points. The only teams to be within 10 points were Skyline (61-58 in 2012) and Pioneer (56-52 in 2011).

But Samaha, who led Huron to a state runner-up finish in 2010, isn’t willing to call this an end of an era.

“We aren’t going anywhere. We’ll be right back preparing on Monday,” Samaha said. “These guys will be in the weight room, we’ll be watching film. We aren’t going anywhere. We’re disappointed, but we’re not broken at all.”

Rich Rezler is a freelance reporter.



Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Good job, Ypsi. Hard work, pride, determination. One would have to have been there to know what these kids have gone through. It's a far different life than the one next door in Shangrila. Great coaching.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Ooo, Ongowah. Ypsi got the power. Yeah!


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

YHS, class of 1971. That chant got us to state finals in '68 and '69.

harry b

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.



Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Congratulations to Ypsilanti. That was a great game! Both teams play so hard! Glad to see the "Braves" back in the area again. Just saw the bracket for the regional and quarterfinal. It looks like Ypsilanti could be headed to the Final Four!

dading dont delete me bro

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

go braves!


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Two great teams lead by two great coaches. Good luck to Ypsilanti. I'll be there to watch you win regionals!


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Indeed coach Brooks, the rivalry IS back! Ann Arbor high schools now smaller with Skyline in the picture, equity is more prevalent. Guys and Girls: Keep it clean, competitive, and the whole region will benefit. Ypsi... enjoy your run this year.... enjoy future seasons too! Thanks for the good times!

Kyle Austin

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

I'm with coach Brooks -- I love that Ypsilanti is back in this district. Seeing Ypsilanti play three Ann Arbor schools in a row to win a district is a best case scenario from a fan's perspective, in my view.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 6:01 a.m.

Go Braves! Err" Phoenix's" I meant to say! Anyway, it is All Good. You boys stand ready to Win the State Championship in Class A! Mix it up in the Finals. Bring the State Championship Home to Ypsilanti! Yins can do it! Yer a Great Team, of that it is Certain and you have Proven it Tonight. All of Eastern Washtenaw County will be rooting for ya in the State Championship Finals! Love ya! Yins all are the Greatist!!!


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 5:22 a.m.

Great game tonight!!! BOTH teams gave it their all!!! I really like how the Ypsi team is so patient, not forcing up any shots. They are well coached!!! The coaches let their players work through their droughts, thats what makes a great team. When you can communicate with each other and make the necessary adjustments, that shows that they trust each other. No ball hoggin on that team, just great play and teamwork. They understand, that to make it to the top you have to work as a unit. I'm sure that the coaches made it perfectly clear that we are a team and we will play as a team. When coaches put out the expectations early on and let players know that you will be benched if you get to pretty, this is the result. CHAMPIONS!!!! I have watched all these teams play for years now and Ypsi gets better and better. I was really surprised at the lack of rebounding effort Huron did tonight. Way to many BIG BOYS on the team to not have any of them go in and grab some off the boards. Use your team, thats what they are there for. NOT REBOUNDING, killed the Riverrats tonight!!! Huron coach said, that they will watch film and start again on Monday. Well hopefully he watches closly and he can see that utilizing his team would have made a difference in the game. I have seen some of these boys play and have been watching them since middle school, I know what they can do. Well, hopefully a REMATCH will take place next year. I'm glad that Ypsi is back in this area, we need some excitment in this area again.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

Go, Ypsi!