By Jeremy Balan
Marshall High School forward Mark Alexander’s performance against Lincoln on Friday quickly went from a night to a remember to a night he’d likely want to forget.
The 6-foot-6 senior made his first nine shots from the floor, scored a game-high 27 points and was dominant on the boards, but made one crucial mistake.
With the game tied at 63-63 with 19 seconds remaining, Alexander found himself all alone on a breakaway and went up for a dunk. The try bounced off the back rim and hit the ceiling, and visiting Lincoln took advantage of it’s new life to win 76-71 in overtime.
“I can’t take too much away from him, because outside of that one miss, he played one hell of a game for us tonight,” said Marshall head coach Dezebee Miles. “There’s nothing I can say negative about him. I would have preferred for him to make it, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
With a second chance in overtime, the Mustangs (9-10, 4-1) hit a setback of their own.
Lincoln senior guard Ares Brown, who scored a team-high 24 points in regulation, fouled out with 2:41 left in overtime, but fellow senior Chris Young rose to the occasion.
Young scored nine of Lincoln’s 13 points in overtime, finished with 23 points and hit four consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
“Chris is pretty sick and he played the whole game. He didn’t come out of the game once and didn’t complain,” said Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson. “He’s just a warrior and has so much heart. I don’t think there’s anyone in this league that plays with as much heart as he does.”
The Mustangs also got a lift from an unlikely source to pull ahead in overtime.
After Alexander gave the Phoenix a 69-68 lead on a put-back with 1:23 remaining, senior guard Remfel Ganal stole a ball from a Marshall guard on the next possession and fed senior guard Nick Young streaking down the middle of the court. Young, standing at 6-1, skied for a dunk to give the Mustangs some cushion.
“He came off the bench ready to play,” Jackson said of Ganal. “He’s a senior who has given up a lot of playing time and he just wants his team to win, but when he’s called on, he gives 110 percent. He’s a great free throw shooter too and he’s quick as hell.”
Even though Brown fouled out in the game’s most crucial stage, he was Lincoln’s most consistent scoring threat in regulation and went 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
Still, Marshall (6-9, 3-2) largely outplayed the Mustangs in the half-court game, but after every Lincoln made basket, the Mustangs went into a full-court press and it payed dividends.
The Mustangs’ press played a large role in forcing 32 Marshall turnovers, 19 coming on Lincoln steals. The press also wore down the Marshall starting lineup, most of which played the entire game due to the Phoenix having just seven players on their roster.
“They were tired, but it was also the indecisive decision making from our sophomore guards,” Miles said. “They’re getting better against the pressure, but they have a long way to go. I can’t expect any more from them then what they’re giving me.”
Marshall’s roster issues will continue in the near future, but Miles expects the return of as many as three players when grade reports are submitted in three weeks. The influx of players will not only help during games, but when the Phoenix practice, allowing Miles to put two full squads on the floor.
“At this point, all I can do is hope that we can stay healthy and that we can finish the season at a level higher than we are at now,” Miles said.
Ares Brown – 24
Chris Young – 23
Nick Young – 16
Seth Snoddy – 5
Mitchell Lee – 4
Mark Alexander – 27
Preston Deming – 13
Aumen Holliday – 13
Mizell Parker – 12
Two players tied with 3 points