Jason Boswell (3), Orchard Lake St. Mary's, goes up for a shot over John Wright (24), Hartland, during boys varsity basketball action at St. Mary's Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Jalen Watts-Jackson, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, goes up for a dunk during boys varsity basketball action against Hartland at St. Mary's Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
C.J. Wilson, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, looks for an opening in the defense during boys varsity basketball action against Hartland at St. Mary's Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
ORCHARD LAKE - A century of high school hoops was celebrated Friday night at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, a glory team staple in Oakland County dating back to before Prohibition.
Playing with passion and poise, St. Mary's crushed Hartland to tip-off its home schedule, torching its visitors 73-41 in front of a packed house.
Prior to the game, the Eaglets acknowledged some special former players and coaches, including Hartland head coach Denny Butcher, who was on the bench at St. Mary's in the 1990s and navigated the program into the Class C state finals in 1994.
Friday was Butcher's first game back at Dombrowski Field House since he left the school in 1998 and went on to coach at Ortonville Brandon and Walled Lake Central, before landing at Hartland last year.
"I was truly honored to be asked to return and play this game," he said. "When they called this summer to inquire if I'd be interested I jumped at the opportunity. Everyone here at St. Mary's have always been so good to me and it was a tremendous feeling to come back and get to take part in such a great night."
Following the pre-game celebration, the Eaglets took it to Butcher and his club, leaping in front 34-18 at halftime and 59-31 after three quarters.
Three different players hit for double figures in the scoring column for St. Mary's, led by junior swingman Teddy McCree's 22 points.
"One hundred years is a long time, so this win means a lot to the school," he said. "We wanted to come out and put on a show."
Starting in the second quarter, McCree and his teammates did just that, placing the game out of reach.
McCree banged home a 3 from the left corner to open the frame and then drilled a buzzer-beater to end it. His consecutive acrobatic shots in the lane raised St. Mary's advantage to 46-22 midway through the third.
Junior point guard Jason Boswell put in 13 points to go along with his six assists and five steals and senior guard Jalen Watts-Jackson scored 12 points, including a steal and slam dunk towards the end of the half.
Watts-Jackson will be playing football in the Big 10 next year at Michigan State University as a cornerback. Boswell's pass behind his head that set up Lamon Mathison for a lay-up prior to the third-quarter horn was a highlight of the game.
St. Mary's head coach George Porritt was simply happy to get his team it's first victory of the season.
"We needed that," said Porritt after the game in his office. "It was a festive occasion and I think everybody really appreciated the way we honored our tradition. The whole night was very cool."
Porritt's squad lifts its record to 1-1. The Eaglets basketball program is the second- winningest in state history, having hung four state-title banners in their time on the hardwood. The school played its first game in December 1913.
Hartland got a team-high 11 points from senior co-captain John Wright and due to the defeat dropped to 3-2 overall.
OL ST. MARYS 73, HARTLAND 41
OLSM - Lamon Mathison 2 4; Jason Boswell 5 (1) 13; Jalen Watts-Jackson 6 12; Ross Moore (1) 3; Teddy McCree 8 (1) 3-4 22; CJ Wilson 3 1-2 7; Roger Hood 1 2; Luke Bauss 1 1-2 3; Nate Conrad 2 4; Phil Gray 1 2
HARTLAND - John Wright 11 points
SCORE BY QUARTER
H 8 10 13 10 - 41
O 15 19 25 14 - 73
RECORDS - OLSM 1-1; Hartland 3-2