Golden Bears snap 8-game losing streak

By John Bassetti


East High School basketball coach Dennis Simmons said that his players’ problems during an eight-game losing streak were mental, not physical.

The Golden Bears mentor said his players would lose leads in games when they lost focus. Instead of playing four quarters, they tanked after a few.

Even though the Golden Bears didn’t play a full four quarters against Struthers as prescribed by the script, they played with enough intensity throughout for a 75-71 win, snapping the Wildcats’ four-game winning streak.

Despite having a 5-9 record, East now has a fresh outlook on its season.

“This is the first time we’ve played at our pace,” Simmons said of the skid-stopping win.

“Playing our pace helped tire them a little,” Simmons said of the up-and-down style preferred by the Golden Bears. “We played two-and-a-half to three quarters, but we were able to grind it out when we needed; that’s been our problem all season.”

Kemon’Dre Muhammad scored 19 points, DeJon Rogers 16 and Tim Williams 15 to lead the Bears while Isaiah Torreance had a game-high 20 for Struthers (9-8).

Struthers was bothered by East’s full-court press early that helped the Golden Bears go on a 14-3 run for an 18-13 lead.

East eventually went up by 10 at 34-24 on Terrell Engles’ 3-point goal, but Struthers battled back to take a 54-53 lead when Kevin Traylor made a 3-point goal after intercepting a pass.

Brandon Washington’s six-point fourth quarter and a layup by Torreance gave the Wildcats their last lead at 68-67 before Muhammad’s dagger layup at 1:17 remaining that put East up for the final time, 69-68.

“Our plan going into the game was limit our dribbles, but we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half — that and a couple of key turnovers in the end,” Struthers coach Jim Franceschelli said. “But, ultimately, the thing that lost the game was our free-throw shooting,” the visiting team’s coach said of Struthers’ 12-of-28 at the foul line.

“We take the lead and then they get the easy bucket,” Franceschelli said of Muhammad’s layup with 1:17 left. “We told our guys that it wasn’t effort tonight. You can’t confuse effort with results.

“You can play hard as you can, but we needed some results. We’ve got to concentrate better and do the right things [listening and doing what we want them to do].”

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