EAST LANSING, MI – An inspired effort from East Lansing junior Brandon Johns has lead the Trojans to a 65-55 victory over a valiant Grand Ledge side.
The 17-year-old finished with 27 points along with 10 rebounds and scored his 1,000th career point with a three-pointer late in the second quarter.
Head coach Steve Finamore was full of praise for Johns as the Trojans continued their undefeated season.
“He’s the X-factor. He’s the best player in the state of Michigan right now and he’s only a junior. He just saves so many possessions for us on the defensive end.
“We get him the ball and most of the time good things happen when the ball is in Brandon’s hands.”
The 6’7” forward was surprised when he heard the news but delighted nonetheless.
“They told me as I was going down the line to shake everyone’s hand but it’s really a great feeling.
“It means a lot to me. It’s been a goal of mine since freshman year and to finally achieve it really means a lot.”
It wasn’t an easy for the victory for the Trojans however, as they started the first quarter with a 15-0 run before Grand Ledge cut the deficit to just six points by the end of the first.
East Lansing started the second quarter with some inside touches to Johns but it was the collective outside shooting the Trojans down, with the team shooting a combined 33 percent from deep.
“The thing with these kids is that we make some, then we get happy and we start shooting even more. What I think we forget about is our inside game and our driving and slashing game. We fell in love with the three.”
The third and fourth quarter saw Grand Ledge pull within just two points and Coach Finamore was disappointed by his side’s complacency, as the Trojan’s perfect record was just minutes away from being tarnished.
“It checks you. It definitely puts you in check as a player and a coach. We have to come out, keep that 14 point lead and increase it. Especially when our four guys from the bench come in, they have to sustain the lead or push to a higher number.
“When guys slack off in one little area or if all five guys aren’t playing defense on a particular possession, it breaks down and the other team gets easy baskets. We gave up a lot of easy baskets tonight, so tomorrow we have to come out with a better intensity.”
And with only a handful of games remaining, the Trojans are once again in pole position to take out the CAAC Blue regular season title but Finamore insists there’s still work to be done.
“We need to take care of the ball and make smarter passes. We need to make smarter decisions and we need to move the ball more side to side against a defense shifting.”
The win means the Trojans need to come out victorious in their next two outings to secure their second consecutive conference title and the team is looking forward to a deep playoff run.
“They’re excited. It’s 15-0 now, 11-0 in the league. That’s 38 of our last 39, it’s not very often we lose around here.”