HASLETT – Craig Fields has seen several jaw-dropping performances in his 22 years with the Waverly boys basketball program.
He was an assistant on the staff that won the 2000 Class A state championship, which was spearheaded by former Michigan Mr. Basketball and Michigan State and NBA point guard Marcus Taylor.
Taylor left Fields with memories that he can still depict to this day. But none amounted to the showing senior Jaden Sutton put on Friday night.
The 5-foot-9 point guard willed the Warriors to victory with a 45-point performance in their 79-71 win over Haslett in a CAAC Red showdown at Haslett High School.
“I’ve not seen that performance at Waverly, and that includes back in the day when Marcus was lighting it up,” said Fields, who has been the head coach for the past 13 seasons and was an assistant for nine years before that. “Great job by Jaden. As he goes, we go. I think that was pretty evident tonight.”
Sutton was efficient – as he went 15-for-23 from the field and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line – and his buckets came when Waverly needed him most.
The Warriors (6-3, 3-1) quickly found their nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter fizzle down to one after Vikings senior guard Evan Block, who scored a team-high 29 points, opened the second quarter with a solo 11-3 run. Sutton, who hit three 3s in the first eight minutes, rattled off an 8-3 run of his own and helped Waverly take a seven-point lead into halftime.
Haslett cut its lead down to two less than two minutes into the third, but Sutton and junior forward Tevin Ali, who added 18 points, combined to go on an 11-6 run to push their team’s lead back out to seven.
“These last few games I’ve been in a slump,” Sutton said. “I felt like I had to come out here and redeem myself. I felt like I let the team down. I needed to come out here with the fire and do whatever they needed.”
A barrage of 3-pointers from Block and junior guard Patrick Hintz, who scored 12 points, allowed the Vikings (5-4, 3-2) to stay within striking distance much of the night. But Sutton and Ali carried their hot touch deep into the fourth quarter, allowing Waverly to pull away.
Block said 3-point shooting has been his squad’s strength in the post-Brandon Allen era, and the sweet shooting from downtown allowed Haslett to hang around. But Block cites Sutton’s hot hand and his team’s inability to limit second-chance opportunities as the reason the Vikings weren’t able to put together a strong enough run to take control of the ball game.
“Credit to (Sutton). He was knocking down all of his shots, hitting shots with hands in his face like there was no tomorrow,” said Block, who nailed seven 3-pointers in the game. “It came down to defensive rebounds and Sutton hitting contested shots.
“We’re going to shoot better than most teams we play against.”
Haslett’s Mitchell Mowid scored 12 points and Avery McKinney added 10 points.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.