Maple Heights, OH- The #3 Garfield Heights Bulldogs (11-1) traveled to Maple Heights Friday night to take on their Lake Erie League rival #19 Mustangs (10-4) in a matchup that has been anticipated for a few weeks since Maple's dominant win over Brush.
The Bulldogs recognized as the early on favorites to take home the LEL title, would be greatly tested by head coach Anthony Burns team from the tip-off to the final whistle. Maple jumped out to an early 7-0 lead behind the physicality inside from 6'8" freshman big man Dav'an Aniton and senior guard Darion Hill, while senior wing Jayvion Moore hit a three from the top of the arc.
Garfield bounced back with a 6-0 run of their own to end the quarter behind guards Stephen Cromwell, Jyles Brandon and CJ Little.
The Bulldogs carried that run over the second quarter, extending it by 4 for a 10-0 run before Mustangs star point guard Darius Davis put up his first basketball of the game. The Bulldogs outscored the Mustangs 11-6 taking a 17-13 halftime lead.
This game was the true definition of the tale of two halves. Most in attendance would agree that the first half was a bit slow but the second half kept fans both teams on the edge of their seats.
6'2" junior Mustang guard Michael Lewandowski opened the second half with a breakaway dunk, only for Bulldog big man DeAndre Jones to follow up with a dunk of his own. The Mustangs clawed back, trumping the once four point deficit to one. Bulldog freshman Marcus Johnson struggled significantly through three quarters. Lewandowski and Davis each made a layup back-to-back possessions to put the Mustangs up 3 with 2:49 in the third.
The duo combined for 14 of the Mustangs 20 total quarter points. The team outscored Garfield by 10 taking a 33-26 lead entering the final quarter.
In the final quarter, both teams emptied the tank and gave it their all. Lewandowski opened the quarter with a three pointer to put Maple up nine. Johnson started to heat up, scoring 9 of his team high 11 points in the fourth. He and Wilberforce commit Germaine Marshall made back-to-back layups to cut the deficit down to three.
With 4:41 left, Johnson caught his way to the rim for a tough contested layup, tying the game at 40. Guard Xavier Peterson of Maple and Brandon for Garfield would next knock down a three for their team, keeping the game tied at 46 with the clock under three minutes.
Johnson and Little each made a layup to push the Bulldogs up four, but the scrappy tough Mustangs would not go away, receiving two crucial free throws from Peterson. Garfield had a chance to put the game away, but Brandon missed the one and one free giving Maple one last chance to win down 47-46.
Coach Burns drew up the perfect playing have the ball inbounded to Lewandowski, splitting the defense of Marshall and Brandon to make the game winning layup knocking off the Bulldogs 48-47.
Lewandowski led all scorers with 13 points.
"When you miss 14 free throws, you not gone win a game on the road."
said Bulldogs head coach Sonny Johnson in post game interview when asked what he thought was the reason Maple won.
When asked if the Bulldogs were over looking the Mustangs and ahead to their tough matchups against St. Ed's and Cleveland Heights, Johnson said,
"We weren't prepared. Maple was I try to keep them humble and not disrespect Maple by looking ahead. The want St. Ed's, they got 'em on Sunday."
The steaming hot Mustangs continue their streak, winning their 10th straight game, improving to 11-4. The Bulldogs drop to 11-2 with a quick turnaround before facing Ed's on Sunday at the Chet Mason Inivitational.
Post-game interview with Maple Heights coach Anthony Burns
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