Corperryale Harris finished his final regular season game as a prep Saturday when his team squared off with Michigan State signee Kalin Lucas and the Orchard Lake St. Mary's Eaglets in the annual Operation Friendship Games. It was a contest that had a number of sub-plots; city vs. suburb, Michigan vs. Michigan State, and the battle for Mr. Basketball. Harris' bid to write the game's script was hindered by the fact that he had to sit for the entire first half for disciplinary reasons. Despite Lucas' lighting quick exploits, the Eaglets held only a six point advantage at halftime. Harris wanted desperately to help his club, but didn't know when (or if) his number would be called to do so.
"At halftime Coach Flowers told us we missing open shots and that Orchard Lake was getting put backs and easy shots," Harris recalled. "I wanted to get in so bad because I knew I could help. We were only down by six and all I wanted to do is get in the game and get us the win."
Harris came into the game one minute into the third quarter and gave his team an instant charge. Watching the two rivals battle on the hardwood was just what the crowd had been waiting on. Neither Harris nor Lucas disappointed.
Harris scored 25 points in the second half (which included one five minute period of overtime). Most of those came from his frequent trips from the free throw line. The wiry slasher split defenders and got to the basket all afternoon. His aggressiveness was rewarded with the whistle, and he capitalized on those opportunities by nailing a game high 16 freebies. Lucas, meanwhile, was every bit the performer. The future Spartan PG rained in 21 of his game high 37 in the second half. The confident floor general even added a little friendly smack talk for good measure. That is a bit of a change for a youngster that we've been watching since grade school. But as Harris indicated afterward, it was strictly competitive and nothing more.
“That’s just Kalin having fun out there," Harris said. "We were talking during the whole game. It was fun”.
Despite Harris' best efforts, his team fell just short, dropping a back and forth game 81-79. For many observers, the Huskies appeared to simply run out of gas down the stretch, but Harris though otherwise.
“We didn’t run out of gas," he said. "Orchard Lake just stepped up and made shots."
On to Michigan
After the disappointing loss Saturday, Harris made his way over to Ann Arbor to catch his future team in action. Despite the loss, he was extremely impressed by what he saw.
"They lost the game, but I liked the way that they showed toughness and heart," he said. "They stayed with it. The crowd was good too."
"Me and Kelvin talked about our seasons and just got to know each other better," Harris said. "Al wanted updates during the game because he was on his way home. He didn’t get a chance to see the game live. We're going to be getting together when he gets back home."
The best part of the afternoon for Harris was witnessing Tommy Amaker get hit with a technical foul. That rare occurrence excited the future Michigan wing.
“I have never seen that side of Coach before," said Harris. "He really was getting on the referees. That really fired me up. If I was playing, seeing him go after the ref like that would have gotten me amped and hyped even more. Him having my back like that would make me want to play even harder. I do like Coach Amaker's calm side when he's dealing with the players though. He is good at getting his point across that way."
With the busy Saturday behind now behind him, Harris turned his focus to the state playoffs where he still hopes to accomplish a few more goals. "I want to win Mr. Basketball and I want to win a state title," he said matter-factly.
"Manny" continued his march toward that end, scoring 28 points to lead his team to an 84-64 victory over Allen Park in last night's opener.
GoBlueWolverine will have much more on Harris in the weeks to come.