BY ED WRIGHT
Jan. 30, 2010, 12:20 a.m.
Environmentalists would love the Plymouth Christian Academy boys basketball team's fast-break.
The Eagles' high-octane form of offense is fueled by a mixture of two natural components: aggressiveness and physicality.
Blend the two together like the Eagles did Friday night against Southfield Christian and stand back.
Sparked by strong performances from a series of high-energy players, the Eagles stampeded Southfield Christian, 67-44, for their seventh consecutive victory.
PCA's three-game, season-opening losing streak is now but a distant memory, blanketed by a win streak that has lifted coach Mike Doyle's team to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Red Division.
"Win or lose, we're fun to watch," said Doyle. "I was impressed with our toughness tonight. We've been working on defensive rebounding and positioning.
"The guys really played physical tonight because they had guys on their backs all night long. When we can rebound like we did tonight, it triggers our fast-break, and when we run, we're effective."
Playing before a vocal, into-the-game crowd that packed every square inch of the gym's bleachers. the Eagles posted 16's in each of the first two quarters to take a 32-22 advantage. They then ran the visiting Eagles off the court in the third quarter, outscoring SC 19-11 to secure a 51-33 lead with eight minutes to play.
While the catalyst of the Eagles' offense is quick-as-the-wind senior guard Donald Mullett (18 points, nine steals and five rebounds), the center piece is sophomore center Eric Jipping. Unlike most 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore post players, Jipping is much more than a space-eater.
He's a net filler.
The 10th-grader tallied 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also hauled down 12 rebounds.
"Eric is a load to handle in the paint," said Doyle. "If he gets the ball anywhere within five feet of the basket, it's either going in the basket or he's going to get fouled."
Jipping can't quite dunk yet, but spring-loaded freshman Mitchell Noel can. None of Noel's 10 points came on dunks Friday night, but the anticipation of a potential slam sent a rise through the crowd mid-way through the first quarter when he broke ahead of the SC defense, only to get slowed down by a defender five feet from the basket.
Much of the Eagles' toughness that Doyle referred to came from Ethan Walker, who like Mullett transferred this past fall from Canton Agape Christian, which closed its doors over the summer. Walker racked up 10 points and 12 rugged rebounds. His point total would have been significantly higher if not for a rough night at the line (3 for 13).
A good chunk of the aggressiveness Doyle admires comes from senior Riley Groenewoud, who hits the floor more than the broom that sweeps the court during halftime.
PCA's division-title hopes face a pivotal assignment Tuesday when Franklin Road, which is also 5-1, visits the Eagles' gym.
Based on Friday's game against Southfield Christian, the Lancers had better be ready to run.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or email@example.com