Zervontae Smith’s senior season hasn’t gotten off to the start he had hoped for.
And with about four minutes left in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game against unbeaten Lansing Christian, it looked as if Sexton was going to suffer yet another early-season setback.
But Smith and the Big Reds had “nothing to lose,” and they found a way to erase an 18-point deficit and pick up their first win of the season.
Sexton scored 61 second-half points to rally back and defeat the Pilgrims, 85-75, at Lansing Christian High School.
“We just got frustrated with losing, honestly,” said Smith, who scored 15 of his 23 points in the third quarter and dished out eight assists on the night. “We had nothing to lose. We hadn’t won a game yet, so everyone was expecting us to lose.”
The Big Reds (1-3) started to cut into their major deficit toward the end of the first half. Seniors Jabril Rahim, who had 20 points, and Khari Foy-Walton, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds, combined to score nine points in the final minutes of the second quarter, and helped Sexton go into halftime on a 9-2 run.
The two teams traded buckets early in the third quarter, but the Big Reds’ pressure on defense allowed them to create offense, and they eventually went on a 13-4 run. Back-to-back buckets from guard Marcus Alston toward the end of the third quarter gave his team its first lead of the game.
“I don’t know if we got content as much as Sexton stopped turning the ball over and started making plays,” Pilgrims first-year coach Chris Mustaine said. “We haven’t seen (that type of pressure) yet, especially with that kind of speed. We rely on our athleticism a little bit, and Sexton showed us exactly what we need to work on.”
With their team trailing Sexton, 69-55, early in the final frame, Lansing Christian seniors Matt Havey, who finished with 22 points, and Preston Granger, who also had 22 points, went on a combined 6-0 run to cut the team’s deficit to single digits. However, Foy-Walton and Rahim were able to help the Big Reds close the game down the stretch.
“(This win) is going to help us a lot,” first-year Sexton coach Otis Davis said. “For us to come back and win, it’s a great win for us. These guys don’t have any quit in them, and that’s what it’s all about. They did a great job.”
The Pilgrims’ (4-1) Forrest Bouyer had 15 points and eight assists.
Contact James L. Edwards III at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.