Just when it seemed like the regular-season basketball grind was getting a little stale ... Eastern/Sexton Part II saved the day on this night. And just like with a few more games, there's something more telling when teams meet again this late in the season. Here are the highlights.
1. Eastern 88, Sexton 73 -- This was the Eastern team we've come to know the last two seasons, and this was one of the most entertaining games I've seen all winter.
2. East Lansing 61, Lansing Catholic 56 -- The co-CAAC Blue champ Trojans survived a close one against the co-CAAC White champ Cougars.
3. Pewamo-Westphalia 59, Dansville 52 -- Former Pirates standout-now Dansville coach Cole Feldpausch nearly knocked his old team out of first place in the CMAC.
Game balls: Two tonight, and here's why -- East Lansing senior guard Derion Threatt is often a forgotten man on the new-look Trojans, but he had 20 points including four 3-pointers and is one of the team's most valuable players. But LaDontae Henton did something tonight I've never seen in a high school game, and I'll explain more on that below.
Upset alert: This is ever so slight, but Potterville beat Carson City-Crystal 55-44 after trailing the Eagles by a game in the CMAC standings coming in.
WOW factor: Andrew Wade's basket with three seconds left in regulation pushed Haslett and his Laingsburg team to overtime, and Haslett got just one basket in the extra period -- a 3-pointer by Zach Porritt -- but pulled off a 59-57 win. I wish more smaller CAAC schools would play the biggest from the CMAC. This is a great annual matchup.
Three more that caught my eye:
1. Holt 67, DeWitt 53 -- A lot better game other years, perhaps, but pretty evenly-matched with both teams having eight wins.
2. Jackson Northwest 54, Eaton Rapids 53 (OT) -- Bad game for the Greyhounds against the one-win Mounties, but another good performance by Travis Wells: 29 points.
3. Portland 65, Fowlerville 59 -- Hunter VanRiper's line was 17 points, seven rebounds and five steals.
Final Five from the game I covered: Eastern 88, Sexton 73.
1. So what did Mr. Henton do this time? I've honestly never seen an offensive run quite like it in high school. Henton had 21 points in the first quarter -- with only a Steven Haney basket in the middle breaking up the string. It looked like Henton was really going to try outscoring Sexton by himself -- and it was a blast to watch. After a free throw, he hit eight straight shots -- over 4 minutes, 36 seconds. The first two were 3-pointers, and two more came later. There was a leaner and a fadeaway with hands in his face that I have no clue how he hit. The funny part was that Eastern coach Rod Watts said he's seen Henton do that during summers, and Sexton coach Carlton Valentine talked of an AAU game a few years ago when Henton scored 27 straight on the way to 37 total. I'm not sure when we'll see something like that again around here.
2. I have to admit a bit of irritation at first that this game wasn't at Eastern when the parking got just ridiculous in the Sexton lot. But this atmosphere was as good as it gets. Sexton's gym magnified the impact of the standing-room only crowd. Plus, you gotta love the home pregame introductions when they turn off all the lights except at center court.
3. Cha Cha Tucker figured into this game, and that's good news for him and good news for Eastern. Fans are trying to get a read on how good the sophomore point guard can be, and as I've said a few hundred times, I think he'll make good on all the high expectations placed on him long before high school. New in this game was his aggression -- Tucker scored 20 points and did so attacking the basket again and again. His points were spread evenly over both halves, and he hit all six of his free throws (all in the fourth quarter). And he still got his assists. It was the best offensive game I've seen from him this season out of the five I've watched. In other point guard news, Sexton's Anthony Clemmons had another solid 19 points, five rebounds and three steals. He's incredibly overshadowed, but shouldn't be.
4. It was a sad night for Tyrin Wade and the other Sexton seniors, and he ended with a Michigan State-style kiss of the "S" at midcourt when he left the home floor for the last time. He had just 10 points, but nine rebounds, and has been a rock.
5. Big game tonight for 6-0 junior guard Jeff Cain, who had 10 points and four steals for the Big Reds, including a few of both during a run of five turnovers that turned into 10 fastbreak points. And MSU fans, Denzel Valentine had nine points, five assists and three steals, and was a big part of shutting down Henton after his first-quarter explosion. He went down into the post and spent some time banging and fronting and denying Henton space to receive the ball.