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 protected] 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.
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023