Ypsilanti Outlasts Rival Lincoln 60-48

14 Mar

IMG_0239Free-throws count for just one point, but separate the contenders from pretenders in a tournament setting.

Ypsilanti Community shot 22 free-throws in the Grizzlies’ district-final contest against rival Ypsilanti Lincoln, and made 18.  Senior point guard Avery Williams connected on all 11 he took.  So does Williams take pride in his free-throw ability?

“Every day,” said the senior with a smile.

Williams not only scored 11 points from the free-throw line, he also made four three pointers on the night, and led Ypsilanti with a game-high 25 points.  The performance his head coach has been waiting for.

“I’m going to be honest,” Ypsilanti head coach Steve Brooks said, “Avery Williams goes like that we may be undefeated.”  “He’s the guy we’ve really been waiting on to have that kind of game, he’s one of our captains.  I’m glad he chose tonight.”

Lincoln had already lost to SEC White Conference foe Community twice during the regular season, both double-overtime affairs.  The game was close well into the fourth quarter, the largest lead by any team was seven points.  With 2:04 remaining in the contest down four and the Rail Splitters holding the ball, sophomore guard Marlin Talley swiped a Lincoln pass and finished a high-difficulty lay-up.  Then less than five seconds later, Williams stole a Lincoln pass and found Talley for another lay-up, four points in less than 15 seconds.  This key series of events handed Ypsilanti momentum and control of the game.

The fourth quarter steals were a part of Community’s game plan.  Ypsilanti’s tallest player is listed at 6’3″, compared to Lincoln’s starting front-line of 6’5,” 6’6,” and 6’7.”  Ypsilanti’s guards needed to use their speed and quickness to combat a more vertically gifted team, in particularly on the defensive end.  Lincoln committed 18 total turnovers.

“We always understood that we’re a lot quicker than them,” Avery Williams said.  “Even though they always have the size over us, we always have the quickness, we also had the toughness as well.”

Again, free-throws win championships.  When Lincoln decided to foul from 1:17 on down, Ypsilanti went 8-10 from the charity stripe.  Junior guard Corey Allen with four, Williams two, and Talley two.  Lincoln scored just one time on their final five possessions.

Allen contributed 12 points, while Talley added 10 points, two steal, rebounds, and assists respectively.  Lincoln was led by senior forward Devin Haygood with a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds.

Ypsilanti (17-4), wasn’t expected to capture the school’s third straight district championship.  Community lost All-State 6’10” forward Jaylen Johnson to Louisville, as well as three starters from a 21 win team one season ago.

“It’s a down year maybe talent wise, but it’s never a down year character wise,” added Brooks.  “They’re very coachable kids.”

Williams is just one of three seniors on the 15 man roster.  Brooks says he has gained greater confidence in the roles of his underclassman as a result of added playing time.

“You basically got sophomores that’ve played 20 games, so what it does is officially make them juniors, and the juniors seniors,” said Brooks.  “And when they’re a close-knit group, they’re going to grow anyway, because everyone is going to encourage one another.

Ypsilanti’s next opponent is Southgate Anderson (11-12), Monday night in the Gibraltar regional.  Along with Anderson, Romulus and Dearborn Fordson will join Ypsilanti.  Romulus ended the Grizzlies’ season a year ago in the regional final by seven.

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