The emotions were running quite high after the last encounter between these two teams. The refs attempted to quell any residual tension from their prior meeting by speaking with both coaches before the tip and holding a pre-game handshake between the teams. If that wasn’t enough to extinguish any “non-basketball” drama, the play of the Phoenix certainly was. Crockett scored the opening points on a basket by senior Isaac Knight, but three straight 3-pointers by the Phoenix, including one by Malik Hairston, forced Rocket head coach RaReading Murray to call a timeout to regroup his team. His players picked up the pace offensively, but Hairston went 3/3 from behind the arc and 4/5 overall in the first quarter for 11 points to help propel his team to a 19-10 lead at the end of 1.
Malik nails the jumper over two Crockett players, including Knight (#23)
The second quarter was much the same for Renaissance. Hairston drained yet another 3-pointer and added a total of 8 more points to his stat line. It was obvious he was feeling it as he nailed jumpers and runners over the outstretched arms of Knight or any other defender in his path. He went into the locker room with 19 first half points. Knight attempted to help the Rockets keep pace with 14 points of his own, but Crockett still entered the break down 39-23.
In a game where Joe Crawford wasn’t able to get off offensively, Hairston took over. He did it all… both inside and out. He nailed a few pull-up jumpers, drove all the way to the hole a few times, and also stuck a few put-backs. On this night, however, it was his long-range marksmanship that was the story of the game. “He has been doing that all year," Renaissance Coach Mark White told the Detroit News. “He's an excellent shooter. When he gets a rhythm, he's unstoppable.”
Malik on the dribble drive
Renaissance continued their defensive dominance, outscoring Crockett 37-21 in the 2nd half on their way to the 76-44 victory. While Knight went off for 14 points in the first half, the combination of Malik Hairston and Carson Butler held him to only 4 points in the 2nd. On the game Hairston led the visitors with 32 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. Crawford chipped in with 10 points (all in the second half) and 5 rebounds, Korey Johnson with 12 points, and Marcus Stout (who had an excellent floor game) with 8 points and 8 assists. Knight led the Rockets with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks.
In Carson Butler’s second game with Renaissance, the 6-5 big man (who will be a football recruit) added 4 points and 5 rebounds as he continues to feel his way through. He’s especially nimble for his size and can’t be outmuscled down low. Butler is a valuable enforcer off the bench and should help Mark White’s squad to their second PSL title in a few weeks (especially if they meet up with Detroit Redford and their two big men down low).
Renaissance (#1 in the state of Michigan and #3 nationally according to USA
Today) is now 14-0 overall and 12-0 in the PSL. Their next game will be at home
versus Detroit CMA on Tuesday.