After losing to Jackson Lumen Christi earlier in the season, the Waverly boys basketball team knew it needed a win in the rematch on Friday to have any chance at the CAAC Gold title.
A 59-54 victory that featured 14 lead changes and seven ties means the Warriors are once again in position to finish first in the league.
The Warriors’ victory ties them with the Titans at 6-1 in the CAAC Gold. Jackson Lumen Christi (9-1) won the first meeting, 55-53, on Dec. 7. That was the last loss for Waverly (9-2).
“That’s what it’s about — winning championships,” Waverly coach Craig Fields said. “That’s what we try to get them to believe in.”
Junior Marcus Moore, usually a starter, came off the bench due to a groin injury, but showed no ill effects as he finished with 13 points. Moore, who scored 11 points in the second half, put his team ahead for good with a layup that made the score 49-48, and just a minute later had the play of the game on a steal and fast-break layup that pushed the lead to five points.
“That’s the attitude we want out of him,” Fields said. “Don’t defer because you’re a junior. You can play. Take over.”
While Moore has faith in himself, he says it’s a quality shared by the rest of the team.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Moore said. “We just don’t want to lose anymore.”
The Warriors’ bench outscored the Titans, 22-0. But for most of the game, Jackson Lumen Christi’s talented starters were able to make up for the disparity in the second unit.
Senior Alex Potter poured in a game-high 20 points but fouled out with 1:26 remaining the game.
Waverly’s own top scorer was dealing with foul trouble, too. Senior Dee Roberts sat out almost the entire third quarter after picking up his third foul.
He finished with 13 points.
“We can play with teams like Waverly and beat teams like Waverly,” said Jackson Lumen Christi coach Rich Karasek. “We need to correct the mistakes and move on from it.”
The teams don’t meet again, so it would take an upset to break the tie.
“It looks to be a two-team race, but we can’t take a night off,” Fields said. “This is Lansing basketball.”
Waverly, which has now won nine straight games, will host Charlotte on Tuesday.