Message received: East edges Canfield in overtime

By John Bassetti


A lineup shakeup sent a message from East High School basketball coach Dennis Simmons to his players,

Tuesday, the Golden Bears went into overdrive in overtime to prevail against Canfield, 70-69, in an All-American Conference Red Tier game.

De’Jon Rogers made four of six free throws in the final 37 seconds to seal the win for the Golden Bears (7-10, 5-7), who, after an eight-game losing streak, are enjoying a third win in their last four games.

Simmons didn’t insert Rogers or Kemon’Dre Muhammad until the second quarter and they responded: Muhammad with a game-high 17 points and Rogers nine, including his game-swaying foul shots.

After missing his first of two free-throw attempts, Rogers survived the pressure and snapped a 69-69 tie by sinking his second free throw with 2.4 seconds to go. Then Muhammad intercepted a Canfield inbounds pass at halfcourt as the buzzer sounded.

“We finally played hard for four quarters,” Simmons said. “It’s taken us 17 games of switching lineups to finally get the guys to play four quarters.

“We played as a team,” Simmons said. “We’re switching lineups and seeing what works best for us and we’re trying to learn how to play hard for four quarters and, if it works, we’ll stick with it.”

Simmons said the long losing streak could be a distant memory.

“Like I told the guys, if we get to the district final, nobody will remember the eight-game losing streak, so we’ve got to start working on playing hard and getting better each day, each game,” he said.

Timothy Williams had 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for East, who saw Larry Ransom helped off the court and into the lockerroom after a dunk attempt before halftime. Ransom had four points.

Aydin Hanousek and Ian McGraw scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Canfield (10-7, 6-4).

Hanousek also had a team-high nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Conor Crogan, Kyle Gamble and Zach Tinkey added nine points apiece, while Ben Shapiro had eight points and six assists before fouling out.

McGraw and Crogan also fouled out.

Coach Todd Muckleroy wanted to stress the positive aspects of the loss.

“That’s a tough lockerroom to talk [to the kids in] when we’re in a rut like we are now,” the coach said of his players’ disappointment. “They’re hurting right now, so I told my guys that I appreciate how they fought hard and kept digging away.

“That game could have been over in regulation because there’s always some plays where you feel you can kind of control your own destiny [avoiding turnovers] that affect the outcome of the game,” Muckleroy said. “Despite all that, the guys just kept fighting.”

Canfield had 15 turnovers to East’s 11 and East had plenty of attempts at the foul line — 20 of 45 — while Canfield had fewer than half the attempts (20) and connected on 12.

“When you got guys fouling out it’s tough,” Muckleroy said of the losses of McGraw [the shooter], Shapiro [the floor leader] and Crogan. “But those who came off the bench did their thing and weathered the storm and kept us close.”

Muckleroy didn’t feel that East’s full-court pressure was a factor.

“We got the ball to the middle and looked opposite and got some good looks, but I feel like their defense was most effective in the half-court and gave us some trouble [tips and deflections]. Again, those turnovers beat us a little bit.”

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