Anderson scores late as Benton Harbor completes its comeback, 46-44, over Spring Lake
Caledonia – With his team sputtering on offense early, Corey Sterling decided it was time to turn up the pressure.
The Benton Harbor coach put his team in a full-court, attacking defense that double teamed the ball as soon as Spring Lake had possession.
That pressure turned a seven-point halftime deficit into an exciting 46-44 Class B quarterfinal victory over the Lakers on Tuesday at Caledonia High School.
The Tigers (22-3) will take on New Haven (25-1) in a semifinal on Friday at the Breslin Center at 6 p.m. New Haven defeated Detroit Osborn, 73-66, in another quarterfinal on Tuesday.
"We missed a lot (easy shots) in the first half," Sterling said. "For whatever reason, we just came out tight. We just wanted to calm them down, and I told them that we were going to play Benton Harbor basketball. Then we stepped up the pressure defense, and pressure led to our easy transition."
That transition actually began late in the second quarter with Spring Lake up 17-6 with 4:38 left in the first half.
The Tigers went on a 7-3 run to end the half, a run highlighted by a huge 3-pointer by senior guard Roy Anderson.
That shot seemed to spark Anderson, the lone player on the current Benton Harbor team that played on the Tigers’ Class B runner-up team three years ago.
Anderson shot well after the break, scoring 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter trim Spring Lake’s lead to 35-31 heading into the final eight minutes.
The Tigers took their first lead of the game with just under seven minutes to play on a George Walker basket, and increased that lead to five points with 5:36 to play.
But the Lakers held their ground and regained the lead, 43-42, with just over a minute to play.
After a pair free throws by Benton Harbor’s Carlos Johnson and one by Spring Lake’s Cameron Ball tied the game at 44-44 with 57 seconds to play.
That’s when Anderson showed the savvy of a seasoned veteran, slicing through the Spring Lake defense for a go-ahead layup with five seconds to play and the win.
"He (Anderson) was the only one with us at the Breslin before, so he knows what it takes," Sterling said. "He made some uncharacteristic turnovers, but made up for it with the game-winner."
Spring Lake coach Bill Core said that Benton Harbor’s pressure wore his team down.
"We got off to that great start, and then the pressure got to us," said Core, whose team ends its year with a 19-7 record. "They didn’t score many in our half-court defense, so we defended well and I though we rebounded really well in that first half. But they got that little spurt in the second quarter, and momentum started to switch. They are just relentless on defense."
Junior post player Same Johnson led the Lakers with 14 points.