Balanced scoring lead Romulus to upset of U-D
Romulus – Any skepticism about the Romulus boys basketball team was put to rest on Tuesday.
With three players scoring in double figures, including 23 points from senior guard Jaylin Walker, unranked Romulus completed a second-half comeback and upset No. 3-ranked U-D Jesuit 56-53 in a nonleague game between two of the area’s top teams.
“When you’ve got a young team like we’ve got it takes time to get better,” Romulus coach Jerret Smith said on his team’s start to the season. “We did not play this game perfect, but we grinded out some stops when we needed to and that’s pretty much what it comes down to.”
Walker had 13 points in the third quarter to help erase a five-point halftime deficit as Romulus (4-2) outscored U-D 9-3 down the stretch to carry a 39-36 lead to the fourth.
“Jaylin is a player that’s letting the game come to him,” Smith said. “No man can just beat a team by himself, but Jaylin has really been patient and playing the way that we’ve been asking him to. Jaylin is getting the shots that he needs and he’s attacking the paint. When you play patient, you get those openings because you’re sharing the ball, and everyone got better today because of the play of our guards.”
Behind 16 points from the state’s top junior, Cassius Winston, U-D (5-1) built a 25-20 halftime lead by halftime. Winston ended the half with jumper at the buzzer. Winston led all scorers with 35 points but was held to just four points in the third quarter after a defensive change by Smith.
“When you’re sending people defensively, things will happen offensively,” Smith said. “When we close gaps and get stops, things open up in transition. The problem in the first half is that we gave U-D too many offensive rebounds, which is a big issue. Our goal is to always outrebound the opponent, but we were able to get some crucial stops in the second half that really helped us.”
The Cubs connected on only four shots in the fourth quarter, including a dunk from sophomore Ikechukwu Eke, as the Eagles led by eight with under 20 seconds remaining.
“We were horrible shooting the ball in the second half,” U-D coach Pat Donnelly said. “We can’t go into a game and have four guys score. In a game where we have 53 points and one guy has 35, we know that he’s not getting any assistance from the other guys on the floor. We should be scoring in the 70s, and the pace of the game tonight was going towards the 70s.
“This was a good loss for us, though. I hate losing, but this is a good loss, because hopefully it will wake our guys up. We purposely scheduled a very tough non-conference schedule to prepare. This was our first road game and a good test, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys respond.”
D’Angelo Hansbro and Rio Washington each added 12 points for Romulus.
Gary Collins and Eke scored nine and eight points, respectively, for the Cubs.