Zac Latter and Dylan Patton have developed a close bond off the court.
That tight friendship is paying dividends for the Leslie boys basketball team as it chases the inaugural Greater Lansing Athletic Conference title.
The juniors have been among the driving forces for the Blackhawks, who have won nine straight entering Tuesday’s home game against Stockbridge.
“After hanging out for so long, it comes natural to us that we know where each other are going to be and we know what each other are going to do,” Latter said. “It’s just a sort of bond that’s developed over time that we’re not sure exactly how it happened. It came together and when we get on the court it’s just a connection that we really can’t break.”
It’s also been difficult for opponents to break as the two have filled the offensive void for Leslie with the graduation of last year’s top scorer Matt Subject. Patton and Latter have combined to average 32 points while putting Leslie (12-2, 6-2 GLAC) in position for a conference championship entering the final weeks of the regular season.
“I just saw it as we’ve got to step up and we’ve got to take the lead of the team and we’ve got to take control,” said Patton, who ranks among the area’s leaders in rebounds and hit the game-winning basket in the closing seconds of Friday’s comeback victory over GLAC leader Lakewood.
It’s been more than Latter and Patton and junior guard Jordan Pearsall is among the others that have been key for Leslie during its successful season.
“Really I thought we started to get quite a bit better as we’ve gotten more contributions from other kids.” Leslie coach Matt Johns said. “We’ve had some sophomores step up and a couple of seniors have had some nice games in terms of contributions that maybe don’t show up as much as what Dylan and Zac’s stats do.”
Johns hopes that continues as his team tries to capitalize on having its four remaining GLAC games home. And the Blackhawks coach also wants to make sure his team knows it didn’t accomplish anything with Friday’s big victory over Lakewood.
“All last week did was give us an opportunity to compete for a league championship,” Johns said. “We’ve got to stay focused. We were 0-2 in the league and told ourselves we’ve got to battle back. We’re in the position that we talked about, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Howell at Waverly, 7 p.m.
St. Johns at Williamston, 7 p.m.
Byron at Morrice, 7 p.m.
Olivet at Perry, 7 p.m.
Mason at Eaton Rapids, 7 p.m.
East Lansing at Everett, 7 p.m.
Stockbridge at Leslie, 7 p.m.
Sexton at Holt, 7 p.m.
Webberville at Bentley, 7 p.m.
Haslett at Lansing Catholic, 7 p.m.
Corunna at Clio, 7 p.m.
Maple Valley at Lansing Christian, 7 p.m.
Charlotte at Jackson Northwest, 7 p.m.
Bay City John Glenn at Alma, 7:30 p.m.
DeWitt at Hastings, 7:30 p.m.
Grand Ledge at Eastern, 7:30 p.m.
Breckenridge at Ithaca, 7:30 p.m.
Okemos at Jackson, 7:30 p.m.
Lakewood at Ovid-Elsie, 7:30 p.m
Bentley at Webberville, 6 p.m.
Breckenridge at Ithaca, 6 p.m.
Jackson Northwest at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Lansing Christian at Maple Valley, 7 p.m.
Morrice at Byron, 7 p.m.
Clio at Corunna, 7 p.m.
Dansville at Laingsburg, 7 p.m.
Eastern at Grand Ledge, 7 p.m.
Everett at East Lansing, 7 p.m.
Leslie at Stockbridge, 7 p.m.
Williamston at St. Johns, 7 p.m.
Holt at Sexton, 7 p.m.
Ovid-Elsie at Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Ann Arbor Huron at Haslett, 7 p.m.
Perry at Olivet, 7 p.m.
Eaton Rapids at Mason, 7 p.m.
Ionia at Belding, 7 p.m.
Portland St. Patrick at Carson City-Crystal, 7:30 p.m.
Fowler at Pewamo-Westphalia, 7:30 p.m.
Fulton at Bath, 7:30 p.m.
Jackson at Okemos, 7:30 p.m.
Potterville at Ashley, 7:30 p.m.