BOYS BASKETBALL: Rogers, role players lead North Farmington to gutty victory in second appearance at MC Roundball Classic in three days
HARPER WOODS – After passing a stern test from Macomb County force Warren Mott two days earlier to stay perfect on the year, North Farmington faced another just-as-tough test on Sunday afternoon against Class B power Lansing Sexton back at the Motor City Roundball Classic.
Despite trailing by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter, North Farmington came alive in the game’s final 12 minutes and after outscoring Sexton 21-11 in the fourth quarter, were able to remain undefeated with a 49-48 win over a scrappy Bucs squad, only two years removed from a state title.
North Farmington head coach Todd Negoshian said that he felt his team’s energy level in the fourth quarter was much improved after a slow first three quarters and added that several players who don’t usually see much play time during the season, stepped up in a big way for his squad on Sunday.
“I thought that in the last quarter, we just played with a lot of energy,” he said. “We didn’t play really well defensively in the first three quarters, but I thought we really picked things up and our leadership came and showed up in the fourth quarter with guys calling each other out in the huddles and on the floor. It’s a good win because of that."
Behind 37-28 with three quarters in the books, North Farmington surged to start the fourth quarter as five straight points from Jeron “Buddha” Rogers and two more from Maher Tcholakian as well as another pair of points from Rogers cut the Sexton lead down to 39-37 at the midway point of the frame.
Rogers, who was named the game’s MVP after scoring 28 points and adding in 10 rebounds in the win, said that with his team trailing in the fourth quarter, he simply wanted to play more aggressively in the final quarter and attack the basket more.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” said Rogers, who scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and is considered one of the best players in the state’s Class of 2015. “The coaches told me that if I wasn’t going to be aggressive, then they would pull me out. I just wanted to win we were down (nine) in the fourth quarter so I just wanted to be aggressive.”
Tcholakian then registered two more points for the Raiders and a pair of David Lett free throws gave the Raiders their first lead since early in the second quarter, 41-39.
Sexton bounced back however to put the pressure back on North Farmington, as Girard Lewis and Avonte Bell accounted for two points to tie the game at 43-43, but Rogers once again proved to be too much for the Big Reds in the fourth quarter as he recorded a layup and a pair of Anthony Qasawa baskets helped seal the win for North Farmington.
Lewis paced Sexton with eight points and Belled added in seven more for the Big Reds.
The Raiders pulled off the come-from-behind win without sophomore point guard Jacob Joubert, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
But Negoshian credited his bench players, guys like Tcholakian and back-up point guard Malik Madison for rising to the occasion throughout the entire second half to help pick up the win.
“We lost Joubert early in the fourth quarter and we had guys step up off the bench and had a huge game for us when their number was called and being ready. I think Malik played really well for us, I thought Maher was big for us and I’m proud of the guys who have been working in practice and it paid off for them when their number was called today.”
Qasawa added in 13 points for North Farmington in the win, while Lett chipped in with six more.
North Farmington is 5-0 for the first time in five years. Negoshian and his club hit the floor again on Monday January 6 at home for another non-league contest versus Flint International Academy.