Detroit Allen’s Danny Pippen had a sore hand and Jason Williams had an injured quad muscle.
As for DreQuan Bell, well, nothing was wrong with him — and it showed.
“I’m the X-factor,” Bell said, smiling.
The X-factor scored a season-high 21 points Friday night, enabling Allen to defeat River Rouge, 58-47.
With the 6-foot-8 Pippen, who signed with Kent State, having difficulty getting the ball inside and with Williams, who signed with East Tennessee, hobbling a bit, Bell took over the third quarter against the No. 2 team in Class B.
Rouge (6-1) trailed by eight at halftime, but climbed within four early in the third quarter, before Bell drilled a three-pointer. On Allen’s next possession, Bell canned two free throws, then followed by hitting another three.
Delantae Petterson (18 points) made two free throws for Rouge to halt Bell’s assault, but the cease fire didn’t last long. Bell answered by rifling his third trey of the quarter, and Allen (6-2, No. 5 in Class C) had a 13-point lead it was never in danger of losing.
It took Bell some time to get comfortable against the Rouge zone defense.
“I just had to get my shot going,” Bell said. “I was just letting my teammates get me the ball and I was just letting it go.”
It was a strange game for Pippen, who can dominate inside but didn’t see the ball much against the zone. He didn’t force any shots and did an excellent job of passing the ball back to Bell on the perimeter.
“Pippen is really a wing,” said Allen coach Craig Covington. “That’s what Kent State is recruiting him as, a combo where he plays on the wing. He’s probably one of our better three-point shooters, it’s just that sometimes he gets caught up with being out there and I have to tell him: ‘Once you get to Kent State you can do that, but while you’re with us, we need you to be that force on the inside.’ ”
Although he played mainly inside, Pippen did hit a three-pointer and looked smooth doing it. But he finished with just nine points and seven rebounds, while Williams scored 13 points and added six assists.
That is why Bell truly had to come through as Allen’s X-factor.
“He really is that,” Covington said. “He is a junior, and last year with Pippen being hurt, Bell was our second-leading scorer for the season. He struggled a little bit early in the season because he’s finding his rhythm. He’s starting to score, he’s a good ball handler. Once he gets a little strength on him he’s going to be tough to stop.”
Bell has been tough to stop lately, and Covington wouldn’t mind seeing it continue.
“He got 19 points last game and he had 21 points tonight,” Covington said. “I’m hoping he gets 22 tomorrow when we play Saginaw Arthur Hill.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.