Even before Waverly took the floor Thursday night, its coaching staff was worried.
“It’s hard to play that first game coming out of break,” Waverly coach Craig Fields said. “The coaches and I were very nervous about this game.”
His concern was justified, as the Warriors, who last played nearly two weeks ago, found themselves down five points at halftime.
But a second-half rally fueled by senior Dee Roberts erased that start and propelled Waverly (5-2) to a 54-48 victory over Grand Ledge (2-4) on Thursday night.
The Warriors opened the second half on a 15-0 run, and Roberts scored 16 of his game-high 21 points over the final two quarters.
The senior leader of Waverly made sure there would be no rust on his end from the long layoff.
“I wasn’t worried because I’ve been in the gym the whole break,” Roberts said.
It’s that type of behavior that has Waverly poised for a run at another CAAC title.
“The guys have a lot of confidence in him,” Fields said. “He’s been through the wringer. He knows what it takes, so he’s our glue guy.”
But early on Grand Ledge, which defeated Jackson in its last game, looked like it was on its way to an upset.
A layup by junior Nathan Megge midway through the first quarter gave Grand Ledge a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the half. The Comets opened up that margin to as many as six points before hitting halftime up 22-17.
But that lead quickly evaporated after the break. Waverly’s 15-0 run was part of a 19-3 run dating back to the second quarter.
“We didn’t come out with the same energy, intensity and enthusiasm, and they did,” Grand Ledge coach Scott Lewis said.
Grand Ledge did not score a field goal in the third quarter until under a minute remaining.
The Comets mustered a late comeback led by junior Jubran McKinley, who finished with a team-high 12 points, but they could not cut the deficit to closer than three points.
After losing its first two games, Waverly now has won five in a row and is playing the type of basketball it expected.
“We’re close to where we want to be,” Fields said. “We just have to take care of the little things.”
The Warriors will be at Eastern on Tuesday, while Grand Ledge will host Portland that same night.