The ‘EPIC NIGHT!’ series is a first-person account of some of the greatest, craziest, most unforgettable high school basketball games that we’ve witnessed firsthand. I have a few guest writers lined up who will contribute to this series over the coming weeks, but please, if you have a game that you watched that has stuck with you over the years that you’d like to write about, e-mail patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com. We’d love to have as many people contribute to this series as possible, especially from outside of the Flint area — most of my experience is in this area and I’d really like to get some feedback on great games over the years from other regions of the state.
By Jared Field
Stupidity: It’s one of the by-products of being single. For many years before I got married and settled down (sort of), I had absolutely no care for my own safety. I was a basketball junkie who never thought twice about going here, there and everywhere to watch a game.
I remember many years ago taking a friend from out of state to see Anthony “Peeper” Roberson (Saginaw High) play for the first time. The game got testy on the floor, and in the stands, and it wasn’t long before I noticed the “what the hell were you thinking bringing me here” look on my friend’s face.
I’d seen that one before, but mostly from girls I was dating.
People didn’t simply question me about the quantity of games I’d take in during any given season, but the quality (I’m not above watching terrible basketball) and the proximity to high-crime areas.
Why couldn’t I get my fix, say, in the OAA or the Metro League?
I had cursory bouts with self-doubt, often wondering why exactly my comfort zone extended into areas where I’d never want my car to break down. Saginaw, Flint, Pontiac and Detroit are hotbeds of basketball in this state (truly, those cities are respected nationally for basketball talent) and I frequented those cities for games a couple times a week. These days, I pretty much stay in my lane.
I’d felt uncomfortable a time or two during my single days as a basketball junkie — Highland Park and East Detroit come to mind — but nothing close to how I felt on March 10, 2009.
The ‘Alternative’ Ending
To this day, I may be the only reporter in the history of the Flint Journal to have reported on an Alternative High School basketball game; I had good reason to be there, though.
The team from Mt. Morris (north of Flint) Alternative Education had several really talented players, guys I’d seen on numerous occasions — Michael Martin and D’Chawn Glover formerly of Flint Northern, DeAndre Upchurch former standout from Flint Northwestern and Marquavis Edwards from Flint Hamady.
If I’m honest, though, the real reason I was there was to see an athletic 6-5 kid out of Detroit named K’allante Miller, only weeks removed from losing a scholarship offer from Central Michigan after allegedly robbing a few classmates at gunpoint.
Even though he was on the roster for the away team from Detroit Westside, he was not there. There went my story.
The rub on Alternative Education basketball is pretty simple. Many people think it’s full of misfits and, in most cases, they’re right. In Upchurch’s case, it provided an outlet for a young man who made a huge mistake in his life (he was in a vehicle with a shooter during a drive-by in Flint that injured a mother) and actually learned from it.
For others, it’s an outlet of another kind.
I arrived at the old Jordan College on Jennings Road just north of Flint just after tip-off, but right on time for an on-court skirmish that cleared both benches. The coach from Detroit thought it appropriate to talk trash to opposing players and the opposing coach, a local Flint pastor — without a doubt a man who cared more about mentoring than machismo.
Minutes later, another fight on the floor.
Shortly after that, one player from Detroit screamed at his coach, ripped off his jersey and quit — but enough about the first half.
In the second, one player from Westside was ejected after another skirmish and the third technical foul in the game (unless, of course, any had been called before I arrived). Another technical came quickly, this time for Glover who left the floor after another fight in the stands had to be broken up by police and a couple rentals.
The game itself was memorable at all. Mt. Morris, one of the best alternative ed teams in the state at the time (for what it was worth), won by seven.
After the game, fists rather than hands were shaking in the handshake line and then came the brawl. At least 40 people, including parents of players, were embroiled in the brawl. Players from the Westside squad were pepper sprayed before the melee was brought under control.
What stuck with me that night was not the score, nor the post-game brawl — I’d seen those before. As I think back to that day, I’m left with the memory of why some young men achieve and others fail — how some young men run to trouble and others run away.
D’Chawn Glover is one of the most naturally talented high school guards I’ve ever seen in Flint. One time, when he just happened to be in the gym while I was holding an AAU tryout, he walked up to me and asked if he could get in. I said he could, since it was his age group. In less than one minute, he had completely shredded my best defensive player (he made it look easy). He was the most talented player on the court and it wasn’t close. In my article in 2009, I called him “unguardable and uncoachable.”
Like so many talented athletes in Flint, he could have been great. At the time, he was the player that Northern fans would always shake their heads about. “What if?” What if he were born somewhere else, or ran with a different crew? What if someone had been able to convince him early on in life that an education (and that crossover) was his ticket out? What if anger were ambition?
Glover ran to the fight that night, and every chance he got. He was living up to the reputation everyone said he owned, and had pride in owning. Upchurch, a talented shooting guard whose mistake changed the course of his life forever, didn’t.
Today, Upchurch is a college graduate (Highland Community College in Kansas) and currently a student-athlete at Tarleton State University in Texas.
- Flint Northern vs. Powers Catholic, Feb. 2, 2010
- Powers Catholic vs. Carman-Ainsworth, March 5, 2009