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BOYS' BASKETBALL: Truman begins quest for another league championship with win against Lincoln Park (PHOTOS/TOUT VIDEO)

Truman's Aaron Foster-Smith puts up a shot during Friday night's 71-58 victory against Lincoln Park. Photo by Larry Caruso

Truman's Anthony Wartley-Fritz (33) battles with Lincoln Park's Tywan Cage (25) during Friday night's game on the Cougars' home court. Photo by Larry Caruso.

Truman kicked off its Downriver League title defense Friday night at home with a 71-58 win against Lincoln Park.

It certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Cougars (1-0, 1-0 DRL), who are favored by most to win the league again.

A tenacious Railsplitters (0-2, 0-1) team played tough and capitalized on a Truman squad that looked a little rusty at times in its first outing of 2013-14.

“It wasn’t a very good night for us," said Truman Coach Chuck Suttles. “We’re fortunate that we got the win still, we’re happy with that, but give Lincoln Park credit, they came over here and played some basketball tonight and they outplayed us.”

The leading scorer Friday evening was Cougars’ standout Aaron Foster-Smith, who had 26 points, including 14 in the first quarter. The Rails’ Tywan Cage had a big game, as well, finishing with 22 points.

In addition to Foster-Smith’s huge first-quarter contribution, the Cougars also got two points each from Devain Newbill and Anthony Wartley-Fritz and were up 18-10 after one. Newbill finished with 18 points for the game and Wartley-Fritz had eight.

A second-quarter Lincoln Park run, capped by a Robert Atwater three pointer, left the visitors down only 20-19 with about four minutes left in the half.

Before the quarter was over, however, the Cougars allowed only five more points and went on a run of their own to go up 37-24 at the half. Newbill had eight points in the quarter and the team also got four each from Foster-Smith and DeMarco Woodward.

Foster-Smith said the key to Truman’s game right now is more consistency on defense.

“I thought we played well, just our defense was kind of off tonight,” he said. "If we picked up our defense I think we would’ve have played a lot better.”

Five third-quarter points from Lincoln Park’s Kenneth Wright, along with three from Cage and two from Joe Decoster kept their opponent from completely pulling away, as it was a 48-34 game heading into the final quarter. Decoster finished with 11 points Friday night and Wright had nine.

Inside the first minute of the fourth quarter, Woodward went to the line for the Cougars and missed back-to-back free throws. Before the final buzzer, the Cougars missed 12 more free throws and finished the night 20-36 at the charity stripe.

Despite the misses, the hosts still amassed enough fourth-quarter points along the way to fend off a late charge from the Rails, which featured 11 points from Cage.

With the clock running down, a quick steal and basket by Cage cut the deficit to single digits, but time ran out before his squad could do much more and Truman claimed the 71-58 DRL victory.

For Lincoln Park, the loss came on the heels of a 56-33 defeat to Novi Catholic Central two nights earlier on its home court.

Rails Coach Todd Tobin said his squad looked much better Friday, despite dropping another contest.

“It was our first game,” Tobin said of Wednesday’s battle with CC. “We were sloppy and tonight I thought we competed with, hands down, probably the best team in the league.

"They’ve got a really good team. They (have) experience, they’ve got size, they’ve got talent and I thought we competed with them for 32 minutes, so it was a good step in the right direction. Obviously we wanted to win, but at least we’re improving.”

Truman is back in action tomorrow and will take on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at the West Bloomfield High School Showcase. Next up for Lincoln Park is a home game next Tuesday against Woodhaven.

Last Updated: 12/14/2013 11:09:22 PM EST

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