Posted On: 12/18/17 7:30 AM
Detroit Country Day was the spot for an intriguing matchup between two teams with a ton of question marks in Detroit Catholic Central and the DCD Yellowjackets.
Catholic Central came out on fire, draining five triples against the Country Day 2-3 zone in the first eight minutes on the way to a 23-10 edge after one quarter. CC wing Davis Lukomski was key, hitting multiple jumpers with 8 points in the opening stanza. The Yellowjackets switched things up in the second quarter, switching to a full court zone press to speed the game up and use superior athleticism to their advantage. Country Day was able to generate several turnovers and transition buckets were the result. DCD Freshman Julian Roper was slicing up the Shamrock defense, getting to the paint at will and finding teammates on dumpoffs or drawing fouls and converting. Country Day held a slim 41-39 advantage at the half. The third quarter was the turning point, as Julian Roper would pick up his third foul and head to the bench. With Roper strapped to the sideline, the DCD offense stalled out and Catholic Central big man Justin Rukat took full advantage. The 6’7 junior forward would hit multiple jumpers, finish through contact on the block and crash the offensive glass in a dominant stretch that would effectively end the game as CC held a 67-53 lead to open up the fourth quarter. DCD would rally late to make the game respectable at the end, but the Shamrocks were able to earn a tough win on the road.
MVP: Justin Rukat (Catholic Central)
Justin finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds and a block in a breakout performance. At 6’7, Rukat has a nice perimeter stroke, knocking down a triple and multiple midrange jumpers. He did a great job of keeping the ball in the paint and finishing with soft touch with either hand. Justin was solid on the glass and was superb as an outlet passer after obtaining defensive rebounds. Small schools at the Division III/NAIA level should be all over Rukat as a stretch 4 prospect.
Best Offensive Performance: Julian Roper (Country Day)
Julian was the most talented scorer on the floor for either team………..as a freshman. The 6’2 guard was great at creating his own shot, breaking his defender down in isolation before raising up and burying midrange jumpers over and over. Roper also thrived penetrating the defense and finding teammates on dumpoffs for easy layups once the helpside big committed. His vision was excellent for a 2 guard. Julian also posted up smaller guards and finished at the rim and provided some rim protection with a helpside block. The super frosh would finish with 20 points and 4 assists.
Best Defensive Performance: AJ Abdelnour (Catholic Central)
The CC point guard was tremendous all game long with his on-ball defense versus the talented Country Day point guard, Wendell Green. AJ was generally able to stay in front of Green and force him to pass the ball or take semi-contested jumpshots. He was great as an off-ball defender as well, jumping passing lanes for steals and deflections that translated to transition baskets for the Shamrocks. Abdelnour was also Catholic Central’s second leading scorer, finishing with 21 points while burying multiple triples and a few floaters. Huge two-way game for AJ.
Best Intangibles: Demetriess Champion (Country Day)
Champion played with a ton of energy and aggression on both ends of the court. The 6’6 forward was outstanding on the offensive glass, rebounding outside his frame before finishing with putbacks. Defensively he blocked two shots, altered more and did a good job protecting the rim. In the half-court offense, Demetriess showed some skill hitting a nice jump hook over his left shoulder and using his superior athletic abilities to face up and beat his man off the dribble before finishing with great body control.
Coming Out Party: Davis Lukomski (Catholic Central)
The 6’6 wing showed a lot of flashes last year as a sophomore, but the development and confidence in his game has taken a noticeable step forward. Lukomski knocked down three triples on his way to 15 points and his shot looked superb when his feet were set. Davis looked more fluid than last year and showed some explosiveness in transition when he took it coast to coast before raising up for a two-hand dunk with authority. Lukmoski was already a very skilled player, with improved athleticism and more aggression, he looks ready to have a monster year.
Best Glue Guy: Mike Harding (Catholic Central)
Really love what Harding brought to the table, as he filled the stat sheet with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Mike was able to finish through contact a few times on the block before converting the old fashioned three point play. He was tough on the glass, where he was physical with his box outs and had good ball pursuit. Harding’s most impressive attribute this game was his passing, as he was able to deliver the ball to teammates in scoring positions in high-low sets in the half-court multiple times. The junior does a multitude of things well for Catholic Central from the 4/5 spot.
Best Shooter: Dylan Sandhu (Country Day)
Dylan buried four triples on the day and was excellent when his feet were set. While the results were great, his mechanics are approaching picture-esque. Sandhu has a high release point, good rotation, beautiful arch and no extra movement on his jumper………its a textbook shot that is just as effective as it is aesthetically pleasing. He’s likely one of the better shooters in the state that receives little attention, but man can this kid shoot. If he can learn to attack closeouts to diversify his game a bit he’s going to be a dangerous scorer.
Best Guy Off the Bench: Mikkos Stewart (Country Day)
You want instant offense, the talented freshman is your guy. Stewart is oozing with talent as shot creating combo-guard, as he was able to break the defense down on several occasions with change of direction and speed dribbles to get separation before burying jumpers from distance and midrange. Mikkos seemingly can get off a quality shot at nearly any time in the game, his ballhandling and shotmaking ability is that good. He finished with 18 points and is one of the best freshman we’ve viewed this year and will be one to watch moving forward.
Catholic Central Takeaway: Depth Will Carry the Team
While the Shamrocks don’t have a team full of Division I stars, or even a bonafide isolation threat, they have tons of players that are interchangeable and compete at a high level. Coach Bill Dyer goes a legit 10 deep with Catholic Central, with little to no drop-off when he goes to his bench. All of his rotation players are fundamentally sound, play hard, are physical and make very few mistakes. The Shamrocks have plenty of shooting to space the floor, at least 3 players that are 6’5 and up, and solid point guard play. We think CC is headed for a solid season, with Davis Lukomski being their most potent offensive threat and surrounded by tons of solid pieces at each spot.
Country Day Takeaway: Youth Movement Will Lead to Better Days
The Yellowjackets are very young and they’re going to take some lumps this year due to inexperience, but change is coming. Three of their core pieces in guards Wendell Green, Julian Roper and Mikkos Stewart are extremely talented, but all 3 are underclassmen. That trio along with their teammates are going to show glimpses of just how good they can be in spurts over the next few months, but they aren’t even close to scratching the surface of their potential as a team. The backcourt along with Demetriess Champion will all return next year, with one more year of development and chemistry under coach Mark Bray, and it should be a significantly better team with potential to do some damage in Class B.