Big third quarter helps Fitzgerald boys basketball push past Eastpointe

Spartans pick up much-needed divisional win

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published January 11, 2018

EASTPOINTE — Warren Fitzgerald boys basketball coach Joe Kopicki said his team was going through the motions as it fell behind 31-30 to Eastpointe High at halftime Jan. 11 on the road.

The Spartans, though, picked things up in the second half as they outscored the Shamrocks 24-12 in the third quarter before pulling away for a 67-57 win.

The victory moves Fitzgerald to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division. Eastpointe falls to 0-8, 0-4 MAC Blue.

Defense keyed the Spartans' third quarter run. The team forced a number of live-ball turnovers that led to run-outs and easy baskets.

"I just told them they needed to give more effort and play a little harder," Kopicki said. "I thought we played a lot harder in the second half. We couldn't start 0-3 in league play. We played hard (our first) two league games and weren't able to pull them out. This was a game we had to have."

"We just had a lot of turnovers and mistakes," Eastpointe coach Jim Reed said. "These are things we've addressed. We play hard, but we can't pull these games out."

The first half featured some highly competitive basketball. The biggest lead of the first half was five points, held by Fitzgerald at 19-14 at the end of the first quarter. The half featured eight lead changes.

The Spartans opened the third quarter on a 13-5 run to take a 43-36 lead halfway through the frame and led 54-43 after three quarters. Fitzgerald led the entire second half, but Eastpointe battled near the end, pulling to within six points of Fitzgerald at 63-57 with a little less than a minute to play.

"Eastpointe battled; they played really hard," Kopicki said. "We needed this win, though. We're shorthanded. We've got guys playing out of position because we don't have a lot of size. We've got to find ways to win."

Spartans senior Carl Pettway is naturally a wing player. A lack of post depth has forced him to play center this season. He said he and his teammates look to use their speed to create easy, transition-scoring opportunities.

"We're just trying to get better every day," Pettway said. "We know we're smaller than a lot of the teams we face, so we have to find other ways to win."

Pettway led Fitzgerald with 20 points. Senior guard Haneef Minus netted 14 points in the win.

Freshman guard Jesse Judkins led Eastpointe with 20 points, including 12 in the second half.

Fitzgerald's next game is against Anchor Bay at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 on the road.

Eastpointe next takes the court for a matchup with New Haven High at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 on the road.