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East English Village's defense steps up in win over Detroit King

Basketball   | Jeff Dullack

State Champs! Sports Network

Detroit – Throughout much of the season, what Detroit East English Village Prep’s has accomplished on the offensive end of the basketball court has garnered the vast majority of the attention.

And for good reason, as the Bulldogs had scored 75 or more points in five of their first eight games of the season going into Tuesday’s game against Detroit King.

But on Tuesday night, it was East English’s defense that helped prove to be the difference as the Bulldogs limited Detroit King to 25 first half points on their way to a 71-57 win.

“A lot of times, kids will get more caught up in the steal than the process and our trap (defense) was much better today,” East English head coach Juan Rickman said of his team’s defense. “They focused on the traps rather than reaching, they broke on the ball much better today, we covered ground much better today and rotated much better today and on top of that, we didn’t just let people lay the ball up. Usually guys go to the basket and our angles are bad, we just let them through rather than making them finish and we rebounded today, so that was the biggest thing.”

In the first half, East English (8-1) would use nine first quarter points from sophomore guard Tariq Shepherd, who picked up the scoring early on after a somewhat slow start for star guards Greg Elliot and David Dejulius, as the Bulldogs took a 20-11 lead into the second quarter.

Elliot noted that with his team coming off of its first loss of the season on Friday to Detroit Osborn and King having won each of its last two games, East English had to come out motivated on Tuesday.

“We knew it was going to be tough coming out,” he said. “But we just had to play hard and stay together, we knew that they had momentum because they had won their last couple of games and we had a little hiccup with Osborn, so we knew we had play hard and come out hard from the get go.”

After East English watched its lead grow to 14 at halftime with the help of 10 points in the second quarter from Dejulius, King would manage to shrink the deficit down to 44-34 early in the third quarter after a 3-pointer from Antonio Marshall.

But the Bulldogs would carry the double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, East English would hold off a late push from King as Elliot would account for a pair of fourth quarter dunks and knocked down crucial free throws down the stretch to put the game away.

Elliot said his team’s play defensively was key on Tuesday night, crediting the defensive pressure that the Bulldogs were able to put on King.

“Our pressure, we didn’t let up at all, we kept our pressure going the whole game,” he said. “Our motto is ‘Make them feel the pressure once they get off the bus,’ and that’s what we did.”

Elliot finished with a game-high 27 points and eight rebounds in the win, while Dejulius finished with 20 points and six assists.

Rickman noted that after his team suffered its first loss of the season on Friday at the hands of Detroit Osborn, he’s felt that it has been more motivated in the previous two games.

“I think I’ve got their ear more,” he said. “Winning covers a lot of your deficiencies, so after losing they got to see that you’re going to get everybody’s best shot, especially if you’re nationally ranked. We have to just keep getting better, we have to always bring it, but more so than that, you have to keep doing the small stuff.”

King (7-2) was led by a team-high 17 points from Jesse Scarber.