Leo had a score to settle against Marshall on Tuesday.
And they settled it with plenty of scores.
After trailing into the third quarter, the Lions scraped out a small lead entering the final minutes and then ruthlessly poured points on a defeated Commodores squad late, winning 77-53 to advance to the Class 2A Marshall Sectional finals.
“We just got down to business,” senior DaChaun Anderson said. “We wanted it more than them and we owed them one, so that was it right there.”
DaChaun Anderson and his brother Kendale, towering above any potential defender on an undersized Marshall team with their 6-7 height and muscular builds, quickly staked their kingdom around the rim and reigned all night long.
DaChaun finished with 28 points (on 12-of-16 shooting) and 15 rebounds. Kendale added 15 points and 13 rebounds. Fred Cleveland, top-seeded Leo’s star guard, had a fairly quiet night with only 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but that was partly by design.
“We came in knowing that they have nobody down low that can stick with the Anderson brothers,” Lions coach Jamal Thompson said. “I told Fred, ‘It’s not about who gets the credit, it’s about winning, and the way for us to win is to feed our big guys.’”
Marshall, seeded fifth last year, went on to upset top-seeded Leo 61-59 in the regionals. Thompson wasn’t the head coach then, but the Anderson brothers were very much the Anderson brothers then, and they made sure the Commandos — seeded second this year — felt maximum payback Tuesday.
They both stayed in until the buzzer and ripped what was a 56-48 game with five minutes left into a 24-point rout.
“They thought we were just going to lay up on them and take it easy, but we just turned the tables,” DaChaun Anderson said.
Marshall actually had the lead at halftime, officially at 31-30 although that score was somewhat dubitable — just like Friday’s regional final against Crane here on the West Side, there were multiple scoreboard controversies.
But that was partially because of a strong start by Javaris Wiggins, who had 13 at the half but finished with only 17, and partially because the Commandos made four triples in the first half, before putting up an 0-for-10 mark from deep after the break. In the end, Marshall shot an ugly 34 percent from the field, unsurprisingly lost the rebounding battle 41-33, and conceded 32 free throws while drawing only 14.
“First half, they made some shots, and I told my guys at halftime, ‘That’s good, I’m happy that they made shots.’ Because they’re going to come out in the second half and still try to shoot,” Thompson said. “And what happened? They did not make one three that second half.”
Brian Brooks added 14 points and six rebounds for the host Commandos but sat a lot late in foul trouble; Deshaun Glover chipped in 11.
Leo advanced to face the winner of Dunbar vs. Dyett.