Ypsilanti found out early in its Southeastern Conference crossover showdown with Ann Arbor Huron on Tuesday night that it wasn’t going to be easy in a tournament atmosphere.
In the first quarter alone, Alec Anderson drove the lane for a thunderous dunk, bringing the Huron fans to its feet.
Star senior guard Corey Allen saw his shot blocked by Darian Root and Root nailed a 30-foot bank shot at the horn to give the Hurons a 16-9 lead after one. The River Rats’ full-court press dictated the tempo of the game.
Then Allen got hot. Real hot. And stayed hot.
Ypsilanti needed every one of his 45 points in a 77-74 overtime victory.
“We heard some Huron guys talking and we wanted to come out and prove ourselves in the game,” Allen said.
They did. The Grizzlies improved to 10-1 while the River Rats fell to 10-3.
Tied 66-66 with 11.3 seconds left, coach Waleed Samaha called time-out to set the offense, but Huron didn’t get off a good shot, forcing overtime.
“We had a baseline out-of-bounds play called,” Samaha said. “We had two reads off it and we made the wrong read.”
In OT Jack Smith hit a triple, Anderson made two free throws and Root came up with a steal, basket and three-point play to give Ypsilanti a 74-68 cushion.
“I was just thinking ‘Win the game,’ ” Allen said. “Nothing else. My teammates did a good job of distributing the ball. Their pressure messed us up a little bit, but we had been working on it in practice.”
Five straight points by Allen got the Grizzlies to within 74-73. Then Smith (17 points) missed two free throws. Michael Bruce (18 points) drove the lane and scored to give Ypsilanti a one-point lead. Allen then came up with a steal and made just one of two free throws, giving the River Rats a chance with 7.5 left.
Devaughn Munson (17 points) took a shot, but it was off and Bruce was fouled on the rebound with 1.2 left.
“Corey was amazing, but he has been amazing,” Samaha said. “He had to have a great night tonight to beat us and he did.”
Allen put on a show. Draining threes like they were lay-ups and getting inside for tough conversions he scored 18 of his 22 first-half points in the second quarter, and by halftime the Grizzlies held a one-point lead, 34-33.
“We have a lot to do, a lot to work on,” said winning coach Steve Brooks. “Our small guards gave up the middle. I know they had to have 40 points in the paint.”
Samaha and his five-man coaching staff had to spend most of halftime figuring out how to stop Allen.
They tried some double-teaming Allen to start the third in an effort to make someone else beat them.
Ypsilanti was able to rebound with the slightly taller River Rats, especially on the offensive glass, but could never pull away.
Lawrence Rowley (15 points) scored seven points in the third quarter to give the River Rats a 46-42 lead.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.