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Sterling Heights

January 25, 2013

Mental toughness key for Stevenson boys basketball team

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
After starting the season 1-3, the Utica Stevenson boys basketball had won three of its last four games at press time. Pictured is Titans junior guard Brandon Hughes during a 61-51 win over Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse Jan. 21.

The Utica Stevenson boys basketball team has turned up the heat during mid-January, winning three of its last four games at press time to get to 7-4, 3-2 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.

What’s played the biggest role in that turnaround is a renewed focus, according to senior swingman Darrin Futch.

“We’re in a different (mindset) now. We came out at the beginning of the season thinking we could turn it on and off, and we can’t do that,” Futch said.

“We got a rude awakening with some bad losses early on, and that helped us see what we need to do. If we don’t stay focused, we’re in trouble.”

The Titans started 3-0 before losing three of four. Those three losses, two on the road, came by an average of 14.3 points per game.

Stevenson’s current run has it just one game out of first in the MAC White more than a third of the way through its divisional slate.

Titans coach Bill Lerch agrees with Futch, one of the leaders on the Stevenson team, along with senior guard Tyler Sykes. Lerch said his team must come out for each game with the mentality that it will play to the best of its ability.

“We got a win (Jan. 21 over Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse) that we were lucky to get,” Lerch said. “We’re getting it, but we’ve got some things to work on.”

Lerch said senior leadership is key. He cited an old adage of, “You’ll only go as far as your seniors take you.”

He said the Titans’ seniors have grown in areas.

“If we get everything right, I think we can make a run in the playoffs,” Sykes said. “We have talent. We just need to keep working hard and doing a good job of staying focused.”

Stevenson next hits the court for a MAC White battle with Warren Mott, slated for 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at Mott.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.