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Led by record-breaking 6-10 post player, Tractors outlast Northville

 Led by record-breaking 6-10 post player, Tractors outlast Northville

Fordson’s Hassan Alzubaidi releases a shot over Northville’s Chad Carney.

Mohammad Habhab is the first Dearborn Fordson boys basketball player to earn a Division 1 college scholarship in close to 30 years — and he showed why Thursday night in Northville.

The 6-foot-10 Central Michigan University-bound senior triggered fast-breaks with on-point length-of-the-court passes, delivered dimes to open teammates when double-teamed, confidently knocked down a corner three and drained nine of 11 free throws to lead the Tractors to a 58-46 victory over the Mustangs in a KLAA fourth-place-teams crossover encounter.

Defying technically-sound box-outs with effort and sheer size to grab 11 rebounds, Habhab scored a game-high 26 points against a Northville team whose tallest player is 6-6 Brody Grezak.

“I love my group of players as a whole,” said Fordson’s first-year head coach Moe Baiz, “but Mo is a special player. He’s one of the best to ever come out of this school.

“He scores a lot of points, but he also set the school single-season record for blocked shots tonight and he’s the school’s all-time leader in free-throw percentage for a season. He’s a special kid.”

To check out video highlights of Thursday’s game, click here.

Props to coach, team

When told he was his school’s first D1 college commit in three decades, Habhab was slightly surprised.

Fordson big man Mohammad Habhab brings the ball up the court with the agility of a point guard
Fordson big man Mohammad Habhab brings the ball up the court with the agility of a point guard

“I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t know it was that long,” he said. “The big reason is I have a great coach and teammates who are always there for me.

“Getting the blocks record feels good because I take a lot of pride in my defense.”

Northville surged to a 13-9 lead after the first quarter thanks to a balanced attack that saw four of its five starters score. Kaden Kuban and Chad Carney both netted four early points to lead the early onslaught.

Fordson never trailed after pouring in 22 second-quarter points — 11 by Habhab and eight by 5-9 guard Ali Gooba to secure a 31-24 halftime lead.

Mustangs never quit

The visitors stretched their advantage to 36-24 at one point in the third quarter when Habhab grabbed a rebound and heaved a length-of-the-court pass Patrick Mahomes would have been proud of to Gooba, who had gotten behind the Mustang defense for an uncontested layup.

Northville sophomore Nate Imbuzeiro drives to the basket against Hassan Alzubaidi.
Northville sophomore Nate Imbuzeiro drives to the basket against Hassan Alzubaidi

The feisty Mustangs galloped back to within 45-40 with six minutes to play on a Carney layup; however, Fordson rarely missed down the stretch to improved its record to 14-8.

Baiz said playing in the ultra-talented KLAA East Division — and taking on a couple state-ranked heavyweights — has diminished his team’s record, but the string of strong opponents should have it ready for the MHSAA post-season tournament that begins next week.

“Of our eight losses, two came to Wayne Memorial, which started the season as a top-10 team according to the Free Press, we lost two to state-ranked Belleville — one at the buzzer — two to Dearborn, which is undefeated and fourth in the state, and one in overtime at Cadillac, which is 17-2 and ranked,” Baiz said.

Brutally-tough schedule

Ali Gooba lays in two of his 15 points
Ali Gooba lays in two of his 15 points

“We started 7-0, which was the best record to start a season at Fordson in 14 years, so I’m incredibly proud of my team and the way they play as a team. We usually have the best player on the floor (Habhab) and we play through him a lot. He gets his but everybody moves the ball, we push the ball well in transition and we defend the heck out of the basketball.”

Gooba finished with 15 points and Adam Darwish contributed 10, including two long threes.

Northville was paced by sixth-man Grezak, who tallied 11 points. Carney added 10 and Sonny Rentz chipped in with eight points and several effort-fueled rebounds.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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Ed Wright

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