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Country Day rebounds from blowout loss, edges Chicago Hyde Park

Basketball   | Joe Buczek

State Champs! Sports Network

Harper Woods – Without the big names and the Division I recruits, the Detroit Country Day boys basketball program is finding a way to fend off adversity this season.

After suffering a 30-point, 75-45 loss to Ashland (Ohio) on Sunday night for its third loss in six games, Country Day rebounded with a 44-41 comeback win over Chicago Hyde Park on Tuesday at the Motor City Roundball Classic.

“We just had a great team defensive effort tonight,” Country Day coach Mark Bray said. “We’re starting to get better as a rebounding team, but we’re in a unique position because we don’t have a league. Every game we play is to help get us better as we prepare for March.

“We took a couple steps back on Sunday, but we took a couple steps forward today.”

Trailing by six at 35-29 through the opening three quarters Tuesday, Country Day (3-3) opened the fourth on a 10-2 run and took its first lead of the game on a layup from senior forward DeShawn Lewis with 2:04 remaining. Lewis, who finished with a game-high 20 points and combined to score 34 with fellow senior forward Nazir Wallace, would later score the game-winning runner in the lane with 5.6 seconds left.

“What most people don’t know about DeShawn is that he’s only been playing at about 75 percent,” Bray said. “His feet are just killing him and it’s been a reoccurring thing that can only get better if he takes the whole season off. Although he’s only playing at about 75 or 80 percent, he still makes plays to show just how good he is.

“We are though still struggling to get Nazir the ball enough, because he really is a good player. He’s a great player, but we’re still working on getting him the ball more.”

After giving up 21 points in the opening quarter Tuesday, the Yellowjackets clamped down defensively in the second quarter, holding Hyde Park to only a pair of makes at the charity stripe as Country Day outscored the Thunderbirds 8-2 to take a one-point deficit at 23-22 to the break.

Without the scoring threats of current college freshmen Edmond Sumner (Xavier) and Maceo Baston (Florida Atlantic) this year, Country Day is relying heavily on its ability to defend the ball this winter.

Against Hyde Park, the Yellowjackets held the Thunderbirds to single-digit scoring outputs in the second and fourth quarter, allowing eight points in the final quarter, including just two in the opening seven minutes of the fourth.

“Unlike last year, we don’t have four guys that can score 15 or more points a game,” Bray said. “We’re hanging our hats on our defense this year. We’ve got guys that can defensively really dig down there and keep guys in front of us. Once we become a better communicating team, I think we’ll be pretty incredible defensively.”

With his team at .500 after the first month of the season, Bray is optimistic about Country Day’s growth and future in the coming months.

“We’ve still got some work to do and a few more months ahead to do it,” he said. “We don’t feel great about where we’re at, but we do feel good about the direction where we’re headed, especially after a win tonight…Scoring is going to be a struggle all year, but hopefully if we can defend and rebound the ball like we have that we’ll be in these games. We still have some guys trying to find their role and some that are trying to excel at it.”?