Applying the defensive clamps on the Mason Eagles in the second half Wednesday night, the Macomb Hornets overwhelmingly rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to claim a 50-35 victory in consolation bracket play of the Little River Conference Basketball Tournament at North Rock Creek.
Macomb, 5-2 on the season, forced 19 Mason turnovers on the night while collecting 12 steals, including five from Donald Akens and four from Alex Barry.
“In the second half, our effort was so much better,” said Macomb head coach Matt Riggs, whose squad outscored the Eagles by a 33-13 margin over the final two quarters.
Riggs also praised the play of reserve Riley Johnson, who was inserted and played all over the place in the second half as he netted a pair of steals to go with four points and four rebounds (three off the offensive glass).
“They were playing a box-and-one on (Alex) Barry and Johnson's energy got him going,” Riggs said.
Alex Barry recorded 14 points as 12 came after intermission and Brett Barry, after tallying eight through the first two quarters, ended up with 12 points, nine boards and a blocked shot.
Akens chipped in seven points to go with his five swipes.
“Akens is not a flashy player, he just gives good effort. He was at the hip of No. 25 (Mason's Logan Dodson) during the second half and that made a big difference,” said Riggs.
Dodson fired in a game-high 18 points for the Eagles. However, 15 of those came before halftime as Akens' defensive presence made a difference in the second half.
Ian Horn also totaled seven points for Macomb. Blaine Cope was the Hornets' top rebounder as he yanked down 13 to go with his four points.
Trailing 27-22 with just over three minutes to go in the third, Macomb kicked into high gear with its pressure as the Hornets concluded the quarter with a 10-0 run to go up 32-27 heading into the fourth.
Two Alex Barry free shots, an Akens bucket, an off-balance jumper in the lane by Alex Barry, a Johnson layup off a Horn steal and assist, along with an Alex Barry steal and layup vaulted Macomb to that five-point advantage through three periods.
Though a Cole Beets trey trimmed the deficit to two early in the fourth, the Hornets responded with a 12-0 spurt to put the game away as buckets from five different players helped put the game away. Horn executed an conventional 3-point play during that spree and Akens had one of his steals which led to him scoring off a layup to highlight that three-plus minute stretch.
Macomb faces New Lima Friday at 8:45 p.m. in the consolation bracket semifinals.
SASAKWA 65, MACOMB 22 (Girls)
The Lady Vikings jumped out to a 23-8 lead after one quarter and shut out the Lady Hornets in the third in making it a rout.
Mariah Carolina's 15 points led Macomb.
Areyona Morgal led Sasakwa with 21 points. Jaislyn Gonzalez followed with 12 points and Alina Rangel chipped in 11 for the winners.