As Roles Change, Hardy Continues to Shine
By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
February 2, 2017
FARMINGTON HILLS – No matter the role or circumstances, Amauri Hardy finds a way to fit in.
Hardy, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from North Farmington, has been a starter since his freshman year and is one of the state’s top players. But his journey has not always been smooth.
He averaged 10 points per game his freshman season at Southfield High, then missed all but four games his sophomore season after suffering a strained knee ligament. The injury sidelined Hardy for four months, and in October of his junior year he transferred to North Farmington.
Known as a shoot first, pass second type of player, Hardy would have to change his style to fit into an experienced team that was not short on talent and players who could score.
“I didn’t have to score,” Hardy said. “We had more talent than when I played at Southfield. I had to swallow my ego. It’s something I had to do. (The North Farmington players) knew my game. I knew theirs.
“I was a combo guard last year. I tried to do what was needed. I shared things with Billy (Thomas).”
Hardy and Thomas, a senior last season, teamed to form one of the state’s top backcourts. And their ability to mesh didn’t happen by accident. The two had been friends since elementary school. When they entered high school each went his separate way, but reunited last winter their play (Hardy averaged 22 points ppg; Thomas 18) was instrumental in the Raiders’ run to the school’s first Class A Final appearance.
“We had a great talk when he came to us,” North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian said. “We talked about his goals, where he wanted to get. He didn’t want special treatment. To this day he’s always asking questions. He’s not questioning what we do. He just wants to get better. He really listened, watched and learned.”
Hardy said every day he thinks about what he and his teammates accomplished last season. Their 55-48 victory over host Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in a District Final was a big hurdle on their way to the Breslin Center.
As talented and balanced a team as North Farmington was last season, this season’s has little experience. Hardy is the lone starter returning and the Raiders have been inconsistent, a trait many young teams confront.
Once again Hardy had to switch gears. In order for his team to be competitive, and as successful as possible, he’s had to assert himself more offensively and be the leader. Hardy is averaging 28.5 points and seven assists per game from the point guard spot, but in most games it hasn’t been enough. What makes those numbers even more impressive is that North Farmington averages just 55 points per game.
North Farmington (4-7) did defeat Southfield Arts & Technology, 76-70, on Jan. 26 for its first victory in the Oakland Activities Association Red. Hardy scored 35 points and had help this time as the other starting senior, Karl Patrick, had 19.
Overall, the Raiders have had a difficult time competing for 32 minutes. In some games they play well for three quarters, then run out of steam leaving Hardy to do much of the heavy lifting. He scored his team’s first 15 points in a 63-58 overtime loss to West Bloomfield on Jan. 20. Hardy finished with a career-high 46.
“I give him credit, the way he leads our guys,” Negoshian said. “He’s toughed through it.
“That’s what I like about him. He’s become a leader. Jacob Joubert and Alex Darden were our leaders last year. He watched and learned.”
Hardy does more than watch. He dedicated himself to the weight room in the offseason and has become a much stronger player, particularly when he goes to the basket. He’s able to ward off defenders more effectively and exhibits great body control.
And it doesn’t hurt that he’s left-handed and gives opponents a less familiar look as they try to lock him down.
Hardy was one of two players from Michigan (along with Jamal Cain of Detroit Cornerstone Health & Technology) and 64 finalists nationally for the McDonald’s All America team (no Michigan players were among 24 eventually chosen). Hardy also has signed with Oklahoma State University and is a possible candidate for the 2017 Mr. Basketball Award.
But on the way to those future opportunities, he’s filling the necessary roles as North Farmington works to elevate from its slow start.
“He’s a great teammate,” Negoshian said. “He cares about the team and the program.”
Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at email@example.com with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTO: North Farmington's Amauri Hardy (10) pushes the ball upcourt during last season's Class A Semifinal victory over Lansing Everett.
Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
March 25, 2023
EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.
Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.
And now it is no longer.
The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.
Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.
“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”
Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.
“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.
“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”
Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead.
Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.
The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.
“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”
An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.
“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”
South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.
“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.
“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”
Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.