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To be first in January doesn't necessarily mean a prep basketball team is going to be first in March. In other words, the first Gazette area and Associated Press state ratings are out and a few teams have bigger targets on their backs than usual. Both ratings are based on the regular season, however, and they do give a good indication of where the power lies -- at least in the eyes of the pollsters -- heading into tournament play.
Two teams who have yet to suffer their first loss are first in the Gazette's area ratings -- Battle Creek Central (7-0) in Class A and Parchment (6-0) in Class B. Joining them at the top of the first ratings are Kalamazoo Christian (6-1) and Lawrence (4-1) in Classes C and D, respectively. There's one other unbeaten among the 56 schools included in the Gazette's ratings. That's Marcellus (4-0), which is running second to Christian in Class C. Benton Harbor in Class A and Climax-Scotts in Class D are close runners-up in the first ratings. Most of the frontrunners will be tested this week. Parchment, for example, hosts an improving Comstock team tonight and then is home for an early season Kalamazoo Valley Association showdown with Kalamazoo Christian.
When an athlete runs into a cheerleader in pregame warmups and slightly injures an ankle, it's a sign that a bad night might be just ahead. Alex Wolf, Parchment's multi-talented guard, had that kind of shooting night, netting only four of 18 shots from the field. But Matt Chappell and sub Denver Baker proved that Parchment was anything but a one-man team by combining on eight 3-pointers and leading the unbeaten Panthers to a tense 52-48 home-court win over a game and athletic Comstock quintet.
Wolf, despite his shooting woes, had a hand in the victory as, with the score tied at 48, he grabbed a rebound and fired a pass to Chappell, who laid in the basket with 12 seconds left that put Parchment ahead for good. ``If I can play that bad and we can still win, it just shows how good of a team we are,'' Wolf said. ``I'm not the team. It doesn't matter how good the game is, as long as it's a `W'.'' Chappell, whose previous high this season as Parchment reeled off six straight wins was 17 points, almost shot Comstock's aggressive 2-3 zone to pieces in the third quarter, scoring 12 points and connecting on three consecutive triples with machine-gun rapidity.
Chappell, who was 8-of-12 from the field and had five of Parchment's 10 3-pointers, finished with a game-high 22 points. ``I came out and I knew we needed a spark to get things going,'' Chappell said. ``I was fortunate to be shooting so well. This was by far my best shooting game of the season. ''Comstock was really focused on Alex and that gave me a lot of open looks. The focus on him really took the pressure off me.''
Baker, a 6-foot-3 junior, had his best game, too. Baker popped in a pair of triples from the corners in the first half when Parchment was struggling, had three for the game and produced 11 points. ``Chappell stepped up and Denver Baker off the bench hit some big shots, and we needed them,'' said Larry Bailey, Parchment's relieved coach. ``Comstock is very athletic and so quick. They're in your face. My hats off to them.''
Comstock, thanks to its quick-handed defensive pressure and backboard control, led 19-17 at halftime. But Parchment poured in 24 points in the third, including knocking down five triples, and built a lead as high as 11 points, 36-25. During a four-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter, it was Comstock's (3-5) turn as the Colts outscored Parchment 10-0 and tied the game at 48 on Rod Helsen's basket with 1:57 left.
Wolf then hit Chappell on a fly pattern and with a second left converted two free throws to finish with 13 points. ``I give our guys a lot of credit,'' Comstock coach Mike McKinley said. ``They came into a hostile environment, fell behind by 11 points and didn't crumble. And we had a chance to tie the game at the end.'' Mike Vargas led the Colts with 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
``This was scary tonight,'' Chappell said. ``And we have another scary one coming up Friday when we play (Kalamazoo) Christian. This gym will be packed.''
Player Pts #11 #13 #15 22***** #21 #23 #25 13** #31 #33 #35 6 #41 11*** #43 #45 * = 3-pointer
Coach T ranking comments: Congrats on receiving the #1 ranking in the region and the #9 ranking in the state. Last year Parchment started out 6-0 and got a #3 ranking in the first regional poll before eventually ending up at the #8 spot. Then they went on to have a longer playoff run than all 7 teams that appeared above them in the rankings. The moral of the story is "don't get too caught up in the rankings". Number one is GREAT! It's something to be very proud of. You worked hard to get your number one ranking but guess what? The second you quit working hard it will be reflected in your next ranking. As I always like to say, "you are only as good as your last game". I fully expect you guys to win every time you step on the court but the real question is "What do you expect from yourselves every time you step on the court?". Go P-town!!
Kalamazoo Vally Association Leaders (1/06/2005)
POINTS PER GAME
3-POINT FIELD GOALS
Class B Inital Gazette Hoop Rankings
2 St. Joseph
4 Stevens, Lakeshore
5 Gull Lake
8 Three Rivers
10 Harper Creek
11 South Haven
14 BC Pennfield
15 Paw Paw
Coach T game comments: I've got 3 letters for you. M. C. D. That was the receipe for victory against Comstock. After the Comstock cheerleader took Alex out in pre game warmups (his ankle looked like poop when he got home) I have to admit I had some major concerns. But MC tore up, Denver chipped in with some equally timely buckets, Mitch (the doctor) was a board-a-holic, and the team D was stellar AGAIN. I love a team that wins with D because game in and game out you can always count on D. You are going to have days where the shots aren't falling and the officiating isn't going your way but if you play tough D you will always be in every game. Alex, I've got to give you some love too because I saw you hurting bad in the lockerroom before the game. Heck I tried to get you to save the ankle for Friday. I honestly don't know how you were able to lace em up and tough out 4 high intensity quarters of ball. I'm your pops and every time I think I've seen it all you step up and do something else to amaze me. I'm going to miss it when the bballing is all over. And I'm not just talking about Al. I'm also going to miss all the seniors: Zraz, The Doctor (MD), Bon, Toolshed, and today's hero of the hour MC. So who is going to step up and bring down KC on Friday? We are 7 and 0 baby! 1st in the area! 9th in the state!! That's right, we bad! We P-town! We da Panthers!!! We bring ruckus!!
Class B Inital State Rankings
Rank Team (Record) Points
1. Detroit Country Day (4-0) 75
2. Grand Rapids South Christian (6-0) 64
3. Flint Powers Catholic (5-0) 62
4. Haslett (6-0) 61
5. East Grand Rapids (6-0) 60
6. Flint Southwestern (7-1) 47
7. Frankenmuth (5-1) 38
8. Detroit Renaissance (6-2) 35
9. Parchment (6-0) 32
10. Detroit Crockett (6-2) 31
Also receiving votes: Cass City, Dearborn Heights Robichaud, Fremont, Muskegon
Heights, Ovid-Elsie, Perry, Portland, Redford Thurston, Riverview,
Saginaw Swan Valley, Zeeland West
A Championís Creed...
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