By Matt Nestor
The East E-Rabs (12-3, 5-1) are not a very big team. But they make up for that with waves of athletes who wear their opponent down.
They used that to their advantage against Guilford (7-9, 3-2). Steve McNease scored 12 points, mostly on put-backs from his 10 rebounds, as East pulled away from Guilford 67-52.
“They pounded on the glass, something that I thought we were able to get under control in the third quarter, but we weren’t able to maintain that the entire game,” Vikings Head Coach Bobby Heisler said. “It’s tough to win that rebounding battle when you only have one or two guys doing that.”
McNease made his presence known all over the floor for the E-Rabs in their physical performance. The junior attacked the glass early and had three big blocks for East on the defensive side.
“The nice thing with Steve is, yeah, he’s tall, but he has great length,” East Head Coach Roy Sackmaster said. “Most players have a difficult time getting shots up over him. He didn’t have it going from outside, but he’s the kind of player that can still make an impact with blocks and rebounds.”
McNease was not the only E-Rabs player who attacked the glass. Alonte Holliday had 11 rebounds to go with his 8 points, Deontray Austin scored 11 with seven rebounds, and even point guard Javon Henderson grabbed six rebounds.
“We wanted to come out physical,” Henderson said. “We wanted to make them shoot outside shots.”
Henderson was also the key cog in stretches for the offense as well. The junior scored 20 points and was 6-6 from the free-throw line to lead the way for East.
“Javon is really coming into his own,” Sackmaster said. “Mentally, he is approaching the game like he has been playing on the varsity level for two years, and that’s what we need from him.”
Guilford was led by Brandon Blankenship, who scored 17 points. Quavion Kimble also chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds. But a 6-17 performance from the free-throw line kept the Vikings from crawling closer than seven in the second half.
“When you don’t knock down free throws, that hurts,” Heisler said. “It’s tough to win ball games shooting that low of a percentage.”
For East, they get ready for some major measuring-stick games. They have contests with Boylan and conference-leading Auburn on deck, and Sackmaster thinks that will be a good chance to find out how far his team has come.
“The hope from here is that we continue to get better,” he said. “The way we do that is to not get content with the wins we’ve had. We’re about to get into the tough part of the schedule, and we’ll see if we’re for real or not.”
In other NIC-10 action:
→ Boylan (12-2, 4-1) was able to exact revenge for their only conference loss from last season, but just barely, topping Freeport (5-8, 1-4) by a score of 59-56. Armani Flannigan scored 16 to lead Boylan, while Pretzels sophomore Quavion Scott led all scorers with 17.
→ Belvidere North (5-7, 3-2) picked up an impressive road win over Harlem (6-8, 1-4), topping the Huskies 67-61 in overtime. Brandon Schwebke scored 23 points for the Blue Thunder.
→ Auburn (10-3, 5-0) stayed unbeaten in the conference behind 21 points from Fred Van Vleet as the Knights topped Jefferson (5-10, 1-4) by a score of 77-42.
→ Hononegah (9-4, 3-2) continued their recent surge with 11 players getting into the scorebooks in a 73-47 win over Belvidere(5-10, 0-6).
From the Jan. 12-18, 2011 issue