with gallery: Ypsilanti advances to regional final with 77-64 win over Canton
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If there was a flaw in Ypsilanti’s otherwise standout performance in last week’s district tournament -- when it swept all three Ann Arbor schools in five days -- it was the team’s slow starts, scoring 14 points or fewer in the first quarter of each game before getting going.
But when the regional tournament opened Monday afternoon at Huron, Ypsilanti didn’t show much of a flaw at all.
The Phoenix scored 44 first-half points and rolled to a 77-64 win over Canton Monday night at Huron High School. The Phoenix advance to a regional title game Wednesday night at Huron against South Lyon, which beat North Farmington 52-43 Monday night in the other regional semifinal.
“A couple of district games we started slow, so we went back in the gym and worked on our offense, making it more fluent,” junior guard Janeau Joubert said. "That’s always important.”
Both the 44 first-half points and the 77 total points marked season highs for Ypsilanti (19-4), as the Phoenix won their ninth consecutive game.
Canton kept the game close early -- it was down five with 5:30 left in the first half. But from there, Ypsilanti closed on an 18-6 run to take an 18-point lead into halftime.
In the first half, the Phoenix recorded points on 20 of their 32 possessions, and turned the ball over only twice.
“The kid were real focused on what we needed to do,” Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks said We understood that we needed to try to get it inside and at least get it close enough to where Jaylen (Johnson) and Lavonte (Davis) could make a difference on the boards.”
Joubert and senior Justin Bernard finished with 17 points apiece. Bernard hit four of his team’s seven 3-pointers, and Joubert finished 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Freshman Corey Allen added 13 points, while Davis had 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Jalen Harmon also scored 10.
After a pair of 3’s on its first four possessions, Ypsilanti’s next seven points all came from its big men, a pair of buckets from Davis, one from Harmon and one from Jaylen Johnson.
While the guards may have led the way on the scoresheet, Brooks said his big men -- Johnson stands at 6-foot-9 and Davis is 6-foot-7 -- getting going helped open up outside shots.
“If you’ve got good inside play then the shooters have no contested shots,” Brooks said. “So you really want to come from the inside out, that way they get open look as opposed to doing it from the perimeter.”
The Ypsilanti big men also combined for 19 rebounds, and helped the Phoenix win the battle on the boards, 31-17.
The Phoenix slowed down from its early start, allowing Canton to close the gap to 10 points late in the second half before putting the game away.
“I thought we kind of let up in the second half,” Brooks said.
But once again, Ypsilanti’s only complaint was relatively minor.
“They’re pretty much buying in," Brooks said.