One thing became crystal clear Tuesday night during Westland John Glenn’s season-opening 82-54 triumph over Livonia Stevenson: The backboards and rims in the Rockets’ gym are well-constructed, otherwise they wouldn’t have survived the dunking assault delivered by 6-foot-10 senior high-riser Mike Edwards.
With a few Division 1 college basketball coaches in the stands, including one gentleman representing Texas Christian University and another from Boston College, Edwards put on a show, throwing down four first-half slams on the way to a 14-point night.
John Glenn senior guard Mychael Bradley also had a lot to do with the dazzling debut of new Rockets head coach Rodd Watts as he contributed 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
Edwards didn’t block a ton of shots, but that’s only because the Spartans wisely didn’t venture too close to his 747-esque wingspan.
“I like how we came out tonight and prepared ourselves during warm-ups, then played all the way through once the game started,” said Edwards, who also generated six rebounds and three steals. “I love coach Watts’ style. I have more options on the court; more chances to score the ball.”
Edwards’ first of three first-quarter jams came under two minutes in when he threw down a feed from Bradley, who he’s been playing with since the two were in sixth grade.
“I think it hypes everybody up when I can do that,” said Edwards. “It seems to give everybody more energy to play harder.”
The Spartans did a better job of containing Edwards in the second quarter when he was held scoreless, due in part to time spent on the bench with three fouls.
“First of all, when you play somebody who’s that tall, you have to have a guy who is willing to contend with him,” said Stevenson head coach Kareem Smartt. “He had a couple dunks on their first few possessions, but I told our guys that might happen. You have to keep competing. I thought Nick Hitchcock and Sam Davidek did a nice job of at least moving him further from the basket in the second quarter.”
John Glenn raced to a 21-8 lead after one quarter. Stevenson earned a moral victory, if nothing else, in the second stanza when it was outscored just 19-18, but the Rockets blew up for 42 points over the final 16 minutes and were never seriously threatened.
“One of our goals tonight was to get 20 points in a quarter, and we did that,” said Watts. “Another goal was to see if we could hold them to eight points or fewer in a quarter, and we did that. We got a little sloppy in the second quarter; I think we got a little too comfortable, but after halftime we got the jitters out and just played.”
Watts said his team has fully embraced his fast-paced style.
“We have athletes, so they need to get up and down the floor and express themselves,” he said. “It’s the style of basketball kids like to play. It’s an up-and-down style, but it’s controlled at the same time.”
Senior guard Noah Campbell had a strong night for the Spartans, netting a game-high 20 points with an array of fearless drives and pull-up triples, in addition to swiping three steals. Sophomore guard Ian Knoph also played well, scoring six points.
Sophomore Daijon Parker’s first varsity game was stellar as he yanked down a team-high nine boards. Senior forward Jamie Melchor also excelled for the winners, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first half.