Posted On: 01/14/18 8:05 PM

The 8th annual Horatio Williams Freedom Classic was like the previous seven, it did not disappoint. Like every other basketball event organized by Horatio Williams it was filled with the state’s top talent. For the first time since 2012, this event also featured a girls matchup with Detroit Edison against Wayne Memorial, arguably the two top teams in the state. Despite that game not being covered in this article, that matchup did not disappoint. It even drew a larger crowd than some of the boys games.

The first contest of the 8th annual Horatio Williams Freedom Classic was between Detroit Northwestern and Chandler Park. Both teams had strong guards with Chandler Park’s senior, Andre Bradford, and Northwestern’s high flying sophomore, Steve Pearson. Both teams started off in a full court man press. Chandler Park’s 6’6 big man, Camel Henderson, made a big impact in the paint grabbing boards and blocking shots which presented his team with early transition buckets and an early 13-3 lead. Marquez Steele also contributed early on for Chandler Park. The 6’5 junior used his size on defense keeping his hand in the passing lane. On the offensive end, he showed his sweet stroke as well as his strong rebounding skills. The quarter ended with great play by Pearson. He contributed with strong defense and scoring down low with the contact. The comeback prompted by Pearson brought the Northwestern deficit to one to end the quarter with a score of 17-16. Leading scorers were Pearson with 11 for Northwestern and 13 for senior guard, Marlon Crawford of Chandler Park.

The second quarter continued the strong play of Steele and Pearson, both carrying the load for their team. The teams traded baskets for the quarter. Crawford and junior, Josh Diggs contributed with the scoring for Chandler Park. At the break Chandler Park held a 32-29 lead. Bradford contributed 8 points and Diggs added 7 points in the first half. Pearson was still his team’s leading scorer with 13.

Throughout the ball game, I was very impressed with the play of Steele. He showed his strong IQ and good defense against Northwestern. He possesses many attributes that college coaches look for. Crawford got the first bucket of the second half and it was a DEEP three. Steele continued his scoring and Bradford contributed as well with his strong defense presenting himself and his teammates with transition buckets. Chandler Park continued their strong play and Northwestern could not get a bucket. A late third quarter run by Northwestern’s junior guard, Dorian Weis kept his program alive. A 13 point deficit was brought down to 8 as Chandler Park went up 48-40.

With Weiss on the bench, Pearson had to take over and he did. He ran the floor and rebounded extremely well, going coast to coast two possessions in a row. The times that he didn’t finish down low, he got fouled and finished at the charity stripe. With the body of a defensive back, Pearson had back to back steals and even gave his team their first lead since early in the second quarter. After regaining that lead, Northwestern decided to play stall during the final minutes. A made free throw from Chandler Park in the final minute tied up the ball game. With the game knotted up, Weis got fouled driving to the basket. He went 1-2, however, that one point lead was quickly erased by a Steele bucket for Chandler Park. With multiple missed opportunities including two missed free throws. Chandler Park won the contest 57-56. Chandler Park was led by Marlon Crawford with 16 points, Marquez Steele with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Josh Diggs with 13 points, and Andre Bradford with 10 points. Steve Pearson led Northwestern with 23 points and 9 rebounds and Dorian Weiss added 14 points.

Ann Arbor Huron’s Avery Lewis

The second matchup of the day was Detroit Western and Ann Arbor Huron. Within this game would have been a highly anticipated matchup between two of the top unsigned bigs in the state. Western’s 6’8 Tray Jackson against Huron’s 6’6 Avery Lewis. However, Western was without Jackson due to back issues. Ann Arbor Huron also has two other skilled senior guards with LJ DeWolf and Lewis Willis. Both were very impressive in the spring and summer with Commom Bond.

As expected, Ann Arbor Huron dominated early on. Their high pressure defense was too much for the shirt handed Detroit Western. Dewolf and Willis dominated on the defensive end and found Lewis for multiple transition slams. Lewis and Dewolf also showed that they are lethal from beyond the arc and have strong court vision. The trio plays a very tough schedule consisting of Ann Arbor Pioneer and Ann Arbor Skyline twice. For Western, Tre Richards, Bret Swan, and Ahmad Curry carried the load. But it wasn’t enough, Huron was in control the whole ball game and never let up. Huron ended up winning the ball game 75-50. Lewis Willis and Avery Lewis both added 15 and LJ DeWolf added 12. For Detroit Western, Brent Swan scored 15 while Ahmad Curry and Tre Richards each added 11.