The London boys boys basketball team loves to get up and down the floor, shoot threes and drive to the basket.
The Red Raiders (3-2, 1-1) have shown they’ve got the players and the ability to have big scoring nights this season. But if the team really wants to get somewhere it’s going to have show that same enthusiasm on the defensive end of the floor.
The squad struggled at times to stop visiting Grandview on Friday, Dec. 13, but when it mattered most in the closing seconds, the Red Raiders came up with a big defense stop to secure a hard-fought 62-59 Mid-State League Ohio Division victory.
“Yes we lost a 10-point lead,” London coach Darren Long said. “But the bottom line is in the past I could see us giving in, but this group didn’t give in. They stuck with it and forced their way through.”
London had no problem scoring in the first half as senior point guard Brok Bennett scored 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter. The problem was, when Grandview wasn’t beating the Red Raiders back down the court even after made baskets, they were finding the soft spots in their 2-3 zone and stuck around.
“At the beginning we weren’t getting into our tempo press,” Long said. “We would make buckets and jog back instead of backpedaling, so that was the first mistake we weren’t getting back on defense. Then once we were in 2-3 we weren’t rotating and were out of position, we scrapped both of those and went man-to-man after that.”
The game was tied 35-35 at the half. In the third London was able to use its man defense to force turnovers and senior guard Zac Carey was the main beneficiary. He had three breakaway layups and a putback basket to go along with a three-point basket, scoring 11 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter. London opened up a 51-38 advantage late in that third stanza.
Grandview rallied in the fourth and actually took a 57-55 lead with 2:50 to play. But the Bobcats missed some key free throws down the stretch and London found a way to score. The Red Raiders final tally came when Zach Anderson found a wide open Carey under the basket with :30 seconds to play for a layup.
“This is a big win for us,” Long said. “It makes us 3-2 instead of 2-3 and that’s our first MSL win so that’s something we’re going to remember for a while. It’s big because we found a way to get it done.”