Canton’s big guns had a little extra firepower Tuesday night than Novi’s did and the host Chiefs eked out a 56-50 varsity boys basketball victory.
Leading the way for Canton, off to a 3-0 start, was senior guard Greg Williams, who poured in 26 points. Contributing 20 points was junior forward Logan Ryan.
Novi (1-2) was sparked by 6-6 junior forward Naji Ozeir, who registered 20 points while being a thorn in Canton’s collective side throughout the evening of the Kensington Conference crossover.
“I think we found a way to win in the second half,” Canton head coach Jimmy Reddy said. “I don’t think by any means we played our best basketball. Last week was a big week for us. We talked about giving a great effort and having great concentration. I don’t think we had that for 32 minutes tonight.
“But at halftime we challenged them to find a way to win and they did that. They made more plays than Novi down the stretch and any time you win you’re happy. The kids should be excited about finding a way to win.”
Novi head coach Brandon Sinawi gave kudos to Canton’s hard-nosed defensive effort, noting that his team is still trying to find itself offensively.
“We’re struggling offensively, we’re trying to get guys going,” Sinawi said. “We have a new system, we got a couple new players and just trying to figure each other out.
“I thought we made a couple nice inside plays, we got the ball to the basket with our two bigs (Naji Ozeir, Jay Duarte), but just too many turnovers, too many bad mistakes on our part on the offensive end led to some easy baskets for them.”
Duarte and Nick Hankerson tallied eight points each for the Wildcats.
Other than Williams and Ryan, the next players on the scoresheet were Jalen Cochran and Obi Okoli, with three points each.
Coming up clutch
It was Williams who directed traffic for the Chiefs, coming up with the big shots and crucial plays that swung the momentum. For example, Novi led 6-3 midway through the first when Williams drained a trey from beyond the top of the arc to knot the game at 6-all.
The Chiefs led 12-11 after one quarter and did not relinquish the advantage until Ozeir connected on a trey with 40 seconds to go in the first half, putting the Wildcats up 23-22 at the intermission.
Doing his thing once again at the start of the third quarter was Williams, with two key jumpers, helping Canton to tie Novi 27-27 with 4:21 remaining in the frame.
“Greg has a great feel for the game, his IQ his high,” Reddy said. “He’s got a lot of experience which our team as a whole does not. So he knows and senses when he needs to take over.”
Layups by Ryan and junior guard Hamoudy Turfe helped Canton open up a 33-29 lead in the final minute of the third, but Ozeir scored at the horn to make it a two-point difference (33-31).
Ozeir’s putback in the first minute of the fourth made it 33-33, after which Reddy called a timeout. The Chiefs came out of that break and Williams immediately was fouled on a triple try. He canned all three free throws to put Canton up 36-33 and the Chiefs maintained their lead the rest of the contest.
A big stretch by Ryan helped open up a relatively comfortable lead (43-37) with 5:21 left. He sank a short jumper from the right corner, then blocked a field goal try at the other end by Hankerson.
Down the floor the teams went, and Ryan buried a 3-ball from the right flank.
The closest Novi would get after that was 49-44 with 1:45 to go, on a trey by Ozeir.
“We kind of came out flat after the big win on Friday (against Detroit Country Day), but we picked it up eventually,” Williams said. “They guarded pretty hard and didn’t let us catch (the ball) a lot, they were up in our face.
“We just let the game come to us and we finished strong.”
Reddy said he isn’t concerned about the lack of balanced scoring so far this season.
“It’s early and key people are still trying to find their way and their roles on this team,” Reddy stressed. “I think Obi can score for us, he had 12 last week against Country Day.
“Obi can step up and score, Jalen can score for us. I think it’s not going to be the same guys every night, but obviously Greg and Logan are going to be our offensive horses.”
PLYMOUTH 69, S.L. EAST 48: The host Wildcats put on the offensive heat all night long and rolled to this Kensington Conference crossover victory over South Lyon East.Josh Reynolds (22 points, 11 rebounds), Brent Davis (14 points), Randall Aikins (14 points) and Pete Carravallah (nine points, seven rebounds) had strong games for Plymouth (3-0 overall).”It was a great all-around effort by our group,” Plymouth head coach Mike Soukup said. “We really got after it, our pressure was very good against them.”South Lyon East dropped to 1-2 with the loss.
SALEM 50, WAYNE 46: In a Tuesday Kensington Conference crossover, visiting Salem knocked off Wayne Memorial to improve to 1-1 on the season.Tyler Brooks (13 points, 10 rebounds), Jakob Lenders (10 points) and Jon Swift (9 points) led the way for the Rocks, who host Westland John Glenn 7 p.m. Thursday.
CANTON 54, COUNTRY DAY 49: The start of the 2014-15 varsity boys basketball season is going about as well as possible for the Chiefs, who visited Detroit Country Day Friday night and prevailed 54-49.Once again, senior guard Greg Williams was the top gun for Canton (2-0), scoring 21 points. He tallied 26 in the Chiefs’ opener, a victory over Ann Arbor Pioneer.Canton’s attack also featured 12 points and seven rebounds from Obi Okoli and 11 points and six boards from Logan Ryan. Canton took a 20-8 lead after the first quarter and maintained a 28-16 edge at halftime.Country Day (1-1) chipped away to close the gap to 37-30 after three frames, but could not finish off a comeback in the fourth.