Brandon Marshall’s 20 points leads Thurston past Crestwood, 69-57
Dearborn Heights – With first place in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference’s Red Division at stake on Friday, it was the unselfish effort from the Redford Thurston boys basketball team that proved to be the difference.
Thurston (10-1, 5-0) had four players score in double figures and pulled away late from host Dearborn Heights Crestwood for a 69-57 win.
“This group of young men is not cocky, but they believe in themselves,” Thurston coach Brian Bates said. “Our guys give it everything they’ve got in order to win games…I think the key for us tonight was in the second quarter when some of our subs went in. We were settling for threes early on, so our subs began attacking the basket and gave us a little bit of a lead which carried over to the second half, because I thought we attacked the basket a lot better in the second half.”
With Thurston clinging to a 51-48 lead with under five minutes remaining in the fourth, Thurston’s D’eauntae Jackson delivered five of his 15 points over a span of 2:30 to give the Eagles their first double-digit lead, 58-48, with 3:15 to play. Jackson, who finished seven-of-14 from the field, scored all of his points in the second half, including eight in the third quarter.
“D’eauntae knocked down some big shots and was able to get it going a little bit,” Bates said. “Within about 15 feet, D’eauntae’s pretty good.”
Thurston junior point guard Brandon Marshall had the hot hand early, scoring nine points on a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Eagles led, 11-10, after the first quarter. Marshall, who scored 20 to lead Thurston, made half of his eight attempts from the 3-point range.
“Brandon is a good shooter and he’s our point guard for a reason,” Bates said. “A point guard is like a quarterback on the floor, so he’s able to set up a play and knock down a few threes. Brandon just has great vision out on the court. He’s able to break down the defense and then find the open guy.”
The Eagles trailed late in the second quarter but were given new life offensively from their bench. Senior Quran Kennedy entered the game with just under three minutes remaining and single-handedly put Thurston on a 6-0 run that allowed the Eagles to reclaim a 31-26 lead at the half.
“With both teams coming in at 4-0 in the league, we knew the winner of this game would have the advantage in the league,” Crestwood coach Mike Bright said. “We tried to slow them down defensively, because they like to attack the rim, which we did a good job of. What really hurt us, though, was rebounding the ball defensively. They got a lot of second chances because they attacked the glass pretty well. They got a lot of second chances on those 50-50 balls by tipping the ball around in the first half.
“It seemed like whenever we made a big stop tonight, we then made a big mistake. I think we played well tonight, but I think we hurt ourselves with the mental mistakes. We’d make a big stop and then turn the ball over or we’d make the big stop but then not get the defensive rebound…Overall, the effort was there, but it was just the little things that hurt us tonight.”
Backing Marshall and Jackson were Ricky Hudgens and Isiah Crofford who tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Crestwood senior guard Muhammad Esa Abduljami scored 24 to lead the Chargers (6-3, 4-1 WWAC Red), but had limited scoring opportunities in the second half.
“We talked about Esa at halftime and how we could make adjustments on him,” Bates said. “He was getting to the rim a little too easy for us in the first half. We tried to force him in the second half to go to different places other than the basket.”
As Crestwood’s go-to on the offensive end, Bright says Abduljami is continuing to develop his inside shot.
“Esa didn’t force a lot of shots tonight, which is good,” Bright said. “He attacked the paint well, which is something I’m trying to get him to do more and more. He’s our go-to guy on offense and it showed tonight.”
Ali Abboud and Antonio Young Jr. also chipped in with 10 and nine points, respectively, for Crestwood.
The two teams will meet again on Feb. 13 at Thurston.