Ypsilanti forward Jalen Harmon provides a boost in return from injury
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
To Pioneer, he was the mystery man, number 44.
But soon, that anonymity will likely be gone.
Ypsilanti forward Jalen Harmon came off the bench and scored all eight of his points in the second half, helping the Phoenix avenge a regular-season loss to Pioneer in its district opener last week.
“I don’t even know his name, and he was a monster tonight,” Pioneer coach Rex Stanczak said of Harmon. “He absolutely killed us in the second half.”
Harmon, a junior, has been a boost providing solid minutes off the bench for the Phoenix team that will go for a regional title Wednesday night against South Lyon, 7 p.m. at Huron High School.
And for teams that have studied Ypsilanti's regular season, he’s been a surprise. After a tailbone injury in the first half of the season, Harmon played only five regular-season games, missing nearly the entire second half as well.
But now, he’s starting to round into form, with eight points against Pioneer and his first double-digit effort with 10 points against Canton.
“He’s probably our most skilled player, because he can go from the one through the five,” Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks said.
On a team with one Division 2-bound forward in LaVonte Davis and a talented 6-foot-9 junior in Jaylen Johnson who is drawing college interest, that’s saying something.
But Harmon is the beneficiary of some fortunate bloodlines. His uncle, 7-footer Mike Harmon, played college basketball at the University of Detroit.
“He’s got some natural stuff going on,” Brooks said.
The Phoenix nearly had another family connection on their regional final matchup. North Farmington’s Jacob Joubert is the cousin of Ypsilanti guard Janeau Joubert. Jacob is also the son of Antoine Joubert, the former Michigan guard. North Farmington lost to South Lyon in a Monday regional semifinal at Huron.