By ANGELO VELOTTA
CONNEAUT — The Martin Luther King Crusaders came into Conneaut and defeated the Spartans in overtime 67-57.
Sophomore Anthony Carmon provided the hot touch on a cold night with a game-high 41 points, including 2 3-pointers and seven rebounds.
“Anthony Carmon is a sophomore, he is the best guard in Cleveland in the last 10 years, and he still has 2 and a half years with me,” Martin Luther King coach Jefferey Priah said.
“We knew No. 2 would score a lot, he is a heck of a sophomore,” Conneaut coach Tim Tallbacka said.
The game had been close the whole way, and they came into the fourth quarter tied at 36. Conneaut broke away and went up 43-38 taking the momentum.
The Crusaders responded with a 7-0 run to take the lead 45-43, before Conneaut tied it again.
Conneaut took the lead a little later after a Dylan Campbell 3-pointer giving the Spartans the 51-50 led with 1:46 left to play. Bud Ritari split pair of free throws to give the Spartans a 52-50 lead.
But the Crusaders weren’t done yet. With just 9.3 seconds left to play, Carmon ran through the Spartan defense to tie the game, sending the game to overtime.
Martin Luther King opened the extra session with a Malik Maddox 3-pointer.
“Working hard to make a play for the team when we needed a play,” Carmon said. “Trying to make team happy, run system.”
The Crusaders went on a 10-0 run to start overtime.
“Intensity,” Priah said was the key to winning the game. “Conneaut played a great game, we need to play (with) intensity for 32 minutes.”
The game started off in Conneaut’s favor with the Spartans winning the first quarter of play 12-6. Michael Mirando and Christian Williams scored early on 3-pointers.
“We try for balance, feed ball inside, driving shots,” Tallbacka said. “We were concerned more defensively.”
The second quarter saw Conneaut extend that lead up 17-11, before the Crusaders went on a 7-0 run in the middle of the second quarter to go up 18-17. Martin Luther King upped their defensive pressure, and also picked up their offensive speed too. This led to the Crusaders winning the second quarter 18-12, and leaving the game all tied up at 24 at halftime.
“A lot of pressing, (they are) very athletic,” Tallbacka said of the Crusaders team. “We’re basically one free throw, one stop away.
“I am extremely proud of way we played, they bought into game plan.”
Velotta is a freelance writer from Concord Township.