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BOYS BASKETBALL: Chandler Park Academy downs rival Michigan Collegiate, 80-72, behind Joe Thomas’ 18 points

By: Branden Hunter, February 8, 2014, 8:45 am

Warren, MICH. – Chandler Park Academy has owned Michigan Collegiate in basketball over the years and that theme continued on Friday night.

The Eagles don’t have former standout Derrick Walton Jr., to lean on this year, but that’s okay. They  still have enough talent to compete and took care of their league rival, 80-72.

"Losing a kid Derrick Walton Jr., left a big whole," coach Gregory Martin said. "But I got to commend my guys, because they have done a heck of a job of filling in and everybody doing a little more to make up the difference."

Chandler Park Academy’s matchup with Michigan Collegiate usually would be an easy one, but the Cougars came to play. A 3-pointer by Damon Osley early in the second quarter gave them 25-17 lead and looked as if they could still one. 

But Chandler Park Academy wouldn’t go away go away that easily and regained the lead at 28-27, on a 3-pointer by Michael Jackson. Not that one. The am Eagles would have a 33-0 lead into halftime, led by  Jackson’s 12 first half points.

I have to acknowledge the play of Mike Jackson Jr.," Martin said. "He gave us a huge lift today.

Michigan Collegiate came out of the locker room with the intensity they exuded in the first. Shumecio Gibson was a huge spark for them in the game scoring a game high 19 points, including converting an and one play, with 5:04 left in the third, that gave them the 41-38 lead again.

"Every time we play Michigan Collegiate you can throw all the records out the window," Martin said. "At the end of the day they are our rival and as you see the place was packed and they really came to play."

Joe Thomas didn’t start for Chandler Park Academy due to a coaches decision, but his play down the stretch and throughout the entire game was the difference. Down 60-57, with 5:06 to go, Thomas hit a 3-pointer from the corner, that tied things up.

The Cougars pushed their lead to 67-62 with 3:15 remaining, when Malique Cohen was fouled, made the shot and hit the free throw. But once again the Eagles would not be denied. 

Jalen Martin’s (16 points, 10 rebounds) two free throws with 1:55 left in the fourth made it 69-67 Michigan Collegiate. Then on their ensuing possession, Thomas hit another 3-pointer, his fourth on the day, to out Chandler Park Academy ahead for good, at 70-69, with 1:32 to go.

"I had to just let the game come to me," Thomas said. "It was hard at first, but we still got the win.

"Coach kept telling to me keep on playing hard and to keep shooting the ball."

Down just 72-69 with a minute and some change left, Martin rebounded a Thomas miss, went back up with it and in the process of making the shot, was fouled. The Eagles led 74-69 now. Martin missed the free throw, but got the offensive rebound, made the lay-up and got the foul.

Just like that, Chandler Park went on a 8-0 run in a matter of seconds, to finally out Michigan Collegiate away. 

Thomas led Chandler Park Academy with 18 points, while Jackson cooled down in the second half to finish with 14. Damon Osley had himself a good game for the Cougars with 16 points, while junior Malcolm Cohen did it all, with 6 point, 16 rebounds and six assists, despite fouling out.

"It felt good to get this win against our rival school," Thomas said. "We thought it would be an easy win, but I give them their props."