The men’s basketball team faced the Emporia State University Hornets on Wed. Jan. 28 at home. This was a big game because the Hornets defeated Western at their home court by ten points. The Griffons got revenge however, defeating them 75-58.
“It was a big win, we needed that,” said senior, number 20 Lonnel Johnson. “We went down there and they beat us by ten, so we felt like we had to make a statement tonight.”
Head coach Tom Smith believes it was a nice step forward for the Griffons.
“The whole thing is about being ranked in your region and they were what we call a ranked team in the region so that made it an even bigger game,” Smith said.
The game started off well with the first two-point jumper by number 55 Marcus Rhodes setting off the score at 2-0 with 19:43 left in the first half. The Hornets took the lead at one point in the beginning with a layup making the score 6-5 in there favor, but that didn’t last long. Soon after Dominique Thuston shot a great three-pointer to bring the score up to 8-6. The score stayed pretty close throughout the first half until a three pointer by Quentin Noblin brought the score up followed by a steal and a layup by Johnson making the score 20-12. With 2:22 left in the first half it was getting close with 31-30 Griffons. A layup by Thuston ended the first half at 33-30.
At 15:22 in the second half the Griffons took a strong lead with 50-36. Throughout the whole game they held a good lead on the Hornets. With seven minutes left in the game the Griffons took a dominant lead, 60-48. Johnson finished the game with a jumper, and an ending score of 75-58. The Griffons did a great job of defense and also offense with eight-three pointers and 15 layups.
“We came out and gave it our all, we have definitely improved a lot with our defense and our offense,” Thurston said.
Johnson, who helped the Griffons to the victory second Thurston’s thoughts about defense.
“We played good defense but you can never be too good at defense,” Johnson said. “We are just going to go hard and practice every day.”
The Griffons have really improved this season and this game showed it.
“We have really made a lot of progress over the last two or three weeks especially on our defense and obviously our rebounds.” Smith said. “I think those two things are things we have worked on well and will continue to work on them.”
It is hard to tell how well a season will go at the beginning. Coach Smith realizes every game is important.
“It is a game by game deal, the men’s basketball league and the MIAA are really tough,” Smith said. “I have been in this league for 21 years and it’s from top to bottom the best I have ever seen it, so one of our main goals is to make the conference tournament.”