When Westland John Glenn’s Mychal Bradley knocked down a game-tying three-point shot with just under four minutes left in Friday night’s KLAA South Division opener at Canton, it appeared a down-to-the-wire barn burner was brewing.
But the Chiefs extinguished the drama with some late-game defense to secure a 53-48 victory.
Following Bradley’s equalizing shot, Canton (6-1) forced five late Rocket turnovers and yielded just three points – a Mike Edwards triple with 7.8 seconds left – to seize the early lead in the South.
The Chiefs’ biggest shot was delivered by leading scorer Greg Williams, who drained a three-point shot from four feet beyond the top of the key to put Canton ahead 50-45 with 1:30 left.
“We finished the game strong on the defensive end,” said Williams, who netted 20 points. “We knew we had to get some stops, and we did. We got some boards, went to the line and hit some free throws.”
Williams appeared to be guarded tightly on his clutch trey, but he said that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“They were all over me all night; that was the first time they gave me a little bit of space to shoot,” he said. “I shot it with confidence and knocked it down.
“This is huge for us to open the division with a win, especially against a team like John Glenn, which is always one of the biggest and best teams in our league. Tonight’s win means a lot.”
The Rockets were fueled by a strong effort from senior 6-10 post player Edwards, who scored 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting. Edwards also hauled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
“Edwards is a lot better than he was last year; he’s long and tough to guard,” said Canton head coach Jimmy Reddy. “We let Logan Ryan guard him. Logan was enthusiastic about it and I thought he did a good job. Our entire team did a nice job of limiting his touches.”
Six players scored in the first quarter for John Glenn, which owned a 17-14 lead. Ryan kept the Chiefs in the game early with eight first-quarter points (including two triples).
Canton seized a 28-23 halftime lead after holding the Rockets to 2-for-17 shooting from the field.
The Chiefs led 45-40 with 4:30 left after 6-foot guard Obi Okoli threw down a dunk after chasing down a pass from Williams, who threw the dime while sitting down near mid-court after stealing the ball from a Rocket guard.
The Rockets battled back to knot the game at 45-all on five straight points from Bradley, but the hosts owned the final four minutes.
Ryan and Okoli both finished with 10 points each for the winners.
Bradley scored 11 for John Glenn and Christian Agnew chipped in with nine.
Canton hit 20 of 42 shots from the field and 7 of 13 free throws.
John Glenn was 20 of 57 from the floor and 4 of 11 from the line.