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BOYS BASKETBALL: Lahser takes Battle of Bloomfield courtesy of furious fourth-quarter rally

Justice comes in the game late and saves the day for the Knights

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ROCHESTER – Things weren’t looking good for Bloomfield Hills Lahser in the final minute of its cross-town showdown with Bloomfield Hills Andover on Saturday night.

The Knights had trailed the whole game and they had just lost their all-league starting point guard Armand Cartwright to his fifth foul.

While the pressure on his team’s shoulders increased tenfold, Cartwright remained calm and collected.

Before heading to the bench, the iron-willed junior floor general called his replacement, senior reserve Trey Justice, over for a quick chat at the scorer's table.

“I told Trey I had faith in him and to take it slow, play smart and look for the open man,” recalled Cartwright after the game.

Justice followed Cartwright’s advice to great results.

Equaling his teammates steady hand with the temperature rising, Justice drove the right side of the lane and fed junior forward Khalil Gracey in the center of the paint for the game-winning hoop in the closing seconds of Lahser’s thrilling come-from-behind 48-47 win in front of an exuberant crowd at the O’rena on the campus of Oakland University.

“I wasn’t going to let my team down,” said Justice of his clutch performance taking control of the Knights’ offense in Cartwright’s absence.

This is the first year for Justice on the school's varsity and he's been playing rock solid. Making the JV team as a sophomore, he didn't come out for the varsity squad last year.

Justice’s assist and Gracey’s basket capped an 8-0 run to end the high-intensity affair and vault Lahser into its only lead of the contest.

The Lahser defense came up big on the last possession of the game, forcing a pair of Andover misses to secure the victory.

“We knew this was going to be a very difficult game because they do an outstanding job coaching and preparing over there on the other side of the city and always play tough-as-nails,” said a clearly exhausted Knights head coach, Duane Graves, following the game in the locker room. “But my guys preserved and survived one heck of an effort by our opponents. We were determined to come out of here with the win and that’s what we did.”

Lahser, defending OAA league and Class A district champions, improved to 7-1, while Andover fell to 5-2.

Saturday’s game had added importance since it was the final regular-season meeting between the two ball clubs. Next year, Lahser and Andover will merge and become Bloomfield Hills High School.

Cartwright finished the game with 12 points, four assists and four rebounds.

Six-foot-eight junior center Yante Maten, the Knights superstar big fella, registered another in a long line of viciously versatile outings, scoring 19 points, garnering nine rebounds, blocking nine shots, giving away five assists and swiping four steals. Gracey had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Andover, which led 29-25 at halftime and 39-34 going into the fourth quarter, received a team-high 12 points from senior guard Marlon Pruitt.

“I thought we controlled tempo for the majority of the game, we just couldn’t pull it out,” Barons head coach Jeff Rubin said. "Some missed free throws hurt us down the stretch. At the end, though, when the game hung in the balance, Lahser made the plays they needed to and we didn't."

Up next on the schedule for Rubin’s squad – in search of its first league title since 2008 – is an OAA Gold battle with Royal Oak. OAA Blue foe Farmington Hills Harrison awaits Lahser for its next game on Tuesday.

Last Updated: 1/13/2013 3:39:54 AM EST

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