Furious Fourth Quarter Propels Everett to District Victory over Trojans

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Thursday, February 28, 2019, 7:50 am
Mark Meyer

Sophomore guard Andrel Anthony (above) led East Lansing with 15 points Wednesday night in a 62-53 district loss to Everett. Photo by Jim Pivarnik.

Two out of three ain’t bad, especially when it’s that one-and-done time of the year.

The Everett boys basketball team ended East Lansing’s season much sooner than the Trojans had hoped in the Class A district semifinals Wednesday night at Okemos. The victorious Vikings, behind 18 points from junior guard Shamar Howard and 15 points from senior guard Albert Mask, prevailed 62-53 . . . just five days after having spoiled the Trojans’ Senior Night in the last regular season game of the year at East Lansing.

In order to win the rubber match between the two teams, Everett had to overcome an eight-point deficit (47-39) with six minutes to play. In doing so, the Vikings advanced to the district final Friday night against Okemos, which defeated Jackson 46-36 in the second district semifinal game.

Ja’Lon Payne sparked the fourth-quarter comeback for the Vikings with three treys while Aaron Davis made seven of eight free throws in the closing minutes.

“We talked about matching up defensively when we went to our zone [defense], but we missed a couple of assignments and they hit some open threes,” said East Lansing coach Ray Mitchell, whose team closed its season with a record of 10-11. “The first thing on our keys [to the game] was to be the aggressor. We have to understand that because of our tradition, there’s a target on our back – and most nights we’re going to get the other team’s best. It’s up to us to match that intensity.”

East Lansing sophomore guard Andrel Anthony helped turn a 25-23 halftime deficit into a 38-30 Trojan lead when he scored his ninth point of the third quarter with just over a minute to play. But the next two minutes would be critical for East Lansing, as junior forward Malakai Matthews picked up his third, fourth, and fifth fouls with the Trojans clinging to a four-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Nick Beekman – Matthews’ replacement -- gave East Lansing a quick lift off the bench by converting two field goals from close range to put the Trojans ahead 47-39 with six minutes to play.

At that point Everett coach K.C. Keyton confronted his team during a timeout.

“We challenged our players in the timeout and said, ‘This could be it, guys. We’ve got to play. It’s time to wake up,” Keyton said. “And I said it about five times.”

The Vikings responded immediately by reeling off 11 straight points to take a 50-47 lead with 3:43 remaining. Davis’ steal and layup followed two treys by Davis and one by Mask to put the Trojans back on their heels, and they never recovered.

“Matthews played a tremendous game,” Mitchell said. “His athleticism really helped us – unfortunately he picked up a couple of chippy fouls, and with him out of the lineup it definitely changed the rotation.”

Sophomore guard Marcus Wourman contributed 12 points while senior guard Jack Morse dropped in 11 for the Trojans, who will graduate six seniors from this year’s team.

“My thing was, let’s lay down the foundation of defense. I think we were able to do that,” Mitchell said. “We’re young and we’re learning, and we still have a ways to go.”



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