BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — There’s a special chemistry that can help take a quality team and move it into a higher level.
Rochester Adams is proving that on the basketball court this season.
The unbeaten Highlanders showcased another sterling defensive effort Friday night, shutting down one of the nation’s top 10 players in Rochester’s James Young. The end result was a 43-36 victory over the Falcons in the OAA White Division boys basketball opener for both teams.
The game was part of the the sixth installment of the Crosstown Showdown at the Athletics Center O’rena on the campus of Oakland University and played in front of a standing-room only crowd of 3,600. It also put Adams on display as one of the state’s better teams.
“We all get along so great. We all hang out and I think it definitely carries out onto the court,” said Zach Littleson, one of seven seniors on the Adams roster. “We have been playing really well as a team so far.”
The Highlanders held the flu-stricken Young to only 1-of-5 shooting from the floor and 1-of-5 from the charity stripe for a career-low three points. Young also had three rebounds and two steals, both which were far below his averages.
“Our game plan was to stop James Young. You just can’t let a kid that talented who is nationally-ranked play free,” said Adams coach John Hall, whose program is 7-0 for the first time since the early 1990s. “We did a great job defending him. That’s all I’ll say about that.
“I think having seven seniors and great leadership was also a big difference in this game,” added Hall. “We have a lot more experience than they did (overall) and it showed.”
Akhemji Williams was held scoreless but dished out five assists with five rebounds and pair of steals for Adams (7-0, 1-0). Ben Limb nailed all five shots from the floor for 10 points, Sam Gasiorowski followed with 10 points and Littleson added nine points for Adams.
“I think Akhemji is learning that as a point guard, some nights we need him to score and other nights we need him for other things,” said Hall. “He still was a factor in this game. We just had other guys step up and score for us.”
The Highlanders committed a season-high 20 turnovers and finished 17-for-44 from the floor, including 5-of-16 from beyond the three-point arc. Rochester was forced into 22 turnovers and finished 12-for-41 from the floor, making only 2-of-10 three-point attempts — all which were season-worst performances in the physical battle.
Rochester cut the Adams lead down to 37-34 and again 39-36 but could not make the key play to complete the comeback. The Highlanders closed with a 4-0 run over the final two minutes to prevail.
“You have to credit Adams’ defense for shutting down James like that,” noted John Pleasant, Rochester’s head coach. “We did a nice job on Williams and we did a nice job coming back. But we made some mistakes late in the game where we could have tied it up.”
Arben Camaj, Rochester’s 6-8 senior center, led the Falcons with a game-high 17 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots — all game highs.
Adams came out on fire to lead 15-6 after the first quarter. The Highlanders pushed the lead to 25-14 at the half thanks to a 10-8 edge in the second period.
Rochester used a 13-10 run in the third quarter to trim the deficit down to 35-27 entering the fourth.
“We didn’t make the shots when we had to,” reminded Pleasant.
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