BOYS BASKETBALL: Defensive pressure allows Adams to pull away from Rochester

| February 5, 2022 | Comments (0)



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ROCHESTER HILLS    Rochester Adams is starting to hit its stride.

After some bouts with inconsistency, the Highlanders are becoming a team no one wants to face as the second half of the season rolls around.

Rochester found that out Friday in the annual Crosstown Showdown at Oakland University’s O’Rena.

The Highlanders put together one of their best games to date and looked more like a well-oiled machine during its 61-41 victory over the Falcons, who have now lost three straight.

“I think our defensive pressure created a lot for us and we have a very special point guard that leads us,” noted Adams coach Jaret Thomas. “We started to force some turnovers and make some shots and gained some momentum.”

Adams switched to a three-quarter-court defensive pressure and frustrated the Falcons over the final three quarters. The Highlanders forced Rochester into a season-worst 19 turnovers.

Senior point guard Gunner Walters — who played for Adams as a freshman before stints in North Carolina and Louisiana — has returned to Adams and has inserted himself into the lineup as one of Oakland County’s top ball handlers.

Against Rochester, the crafty playmaker had a fine floor game with 12 points, seven steals, five assists and three rebounds and was the catalyst in a 49-24 scoring edge over the final three frames.

“We were a little cold shooting to start. We were 0-for-9 from three-point range in the first half, but we were able to ratchet up our defense, get some turnovers and see if we could get some momentum that way. We were able to take the lead at halftime,” added Thomas. “We continued playing that (style) in the third quarter and built a comfortable lead.”

Adams finished the night 40 percent from the floor (22-for-55) and 80 percent from the foul line (12-for-15). But its ability to force turnovers and get the open looks in transition enabled the Highlanders to pull away in the second half.

Senior guard Justice Mims recorded a game-high 21 points — many off dishes from Walters — with five rebounds to lead the way for Adams. Junior forward Brady Prieskorn added seven points, six rebounds and two blocked shots for the Highlanders.

Rochester (8-4) came out on fire, attacking the basket and finding open shots. That led to a 17-12 advantage after the first quarter.

There appeared to be a preverbal lid on the basket after that point, as Rochester routinely had shots rattle in and out of the cylinder and scored only 24 points over the final three quarters.

Rochester was able to trim the down to 11 points at 46-35 with 3:30 to play, but near-misses after that point hurt the Falcons’ chances of a comeback. Adams closed with a 15-6 run to put the game away.

Rochester finished the night shooting just 35 percent from the floor (14-for-40) including just 17.7 percent from three-point range (3-for-17).

“We would make a shot or two, but we just couldn’t get a lot of shots to go down in the second half to get the momentum back and make a run. We had it down to 11 points a few times in the fourth quarter,” said Rochester coach Nick Evola. “Then Adams hit a bunch of late shots to pull away.”

After Rochester started the season with an 8-1 record, the Falcons have sputtered as of late and hit some bumps in the road. Rochester had now lost three straight games including a 55-54 overtime loss to Berkley and 48-44 setback to Oxford to go along to the with the loss to Adams.

“We just have to keep working and trust the process,” continued Evola. “We’ve had some injuries with guys being out, guys coming back and other guys going out with injuries. Hopefully we’ll have everyone from here on out and we can get back into a rhythm. We’ll keep working hard. There’s a lot of basketball to go. Even though we’ve been in a little bit of a rut we can work our way out of it.”

Senior guard Matt Stone, the Falcons’ leading scorer who recently came back from a sprained ankle, was held to eight points and six rebounds and was never able to find his shooting stroke. Senior point guard Armaan Hussaini scored 12 points with six rebounds and four assists, but no other Falcons scored more than five points on the night.

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