February 3, 2009

VIDEO: Keith Appling vs. Isaiah Sykes

EAST LANSING - When Keith Appling, Derrick Nix and their Pershing teammates faced Detroit Finney in the two school's first meeting of the 2008-2009 season, the Doughboys rallied from a 30-18 halftime deficit on the road to knock off the Highlanders 66-61.

At that time, Finney was without the services of talented 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing Isaiah Sykes, who was forced to sit out the first semester of his junior year after transferring to Finney from Detroit Chadsey. As a sophomore at Chadsey, Sykes averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists per game.

With Sykes in the starting line-up for rematch with Pershing and the Doughboys coming off their first loss of the season, the Highlanders traveled to Pershing with the belief that they could upend their opponent to put themselves into a first-place tie with Pershing and Southeastern in the Detroit Public School League's East Division.

But even with Sykes on the roster, Finney did not have the firepower to knock off powerful Pershing, which pulled away late in the third quarter to turn a close game into a blowout, 89-68.

Sykes finished with 18 points. Six of those points came when Sykes was matched up against Appling, who led all scorers with 29 points. Appling also forced the Finney standout into a handful of turnovers, registering three steals against the rising 2010 prospect and forcing a pair of 5-second violations.

The Spartan commitment was the best player on the floor for either team. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Appling scored in a variety of ways including a transition dunk that brought the home crowd to their feet in the first quarter. The future Spartan also had his silky-smooth perimeter jumper working for him. He was also able to slice through the Finney defensive and get to the basket where he finished with either hand or found his way to the free-throw line. Appling also recorded 6 assists for Pershing.

Appling's future teammate at Michigan State, Derrick Nix, rebounded from a tough outing at Southeastern with a good performance against Finney. Nix finished with 14 points and added 12 rebounds.

Sykes, who resembles Manny Harris in build when the Michigan standout was at Southeastern High School, showed a good handle and managed to drive to the basket for easy baskets on a number of occasions.

The Finney junior did not attempt many perimeter jump shots. He missed a pair of mid-range shots as well as his lone 3-point attempt.

Spartan assistant Dwayne Stephens was at the game to watch Appling and Nix and to evaluate Sykes, who lists offers from Tennessee, Syracuse, and Dayton.

Assistant coaches from Syracuse and Tennessee have been to recent games to watch Sykes play.

SpartanMag.com staffer Rico Beard shot the footage embedded in this story.

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