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Joseph’s 37 points help Stockbridge take down No. 4 Drew

Photo by Jerry Jackson
Stockbridge senior Johnathan Robinson (44) attempts to take a charge against Drew’s Derrick Frye in the first half of Friday’s Region 4-AAA contest. Stockbridge upset No. 4 Drew 72-67 for the win.

Photo by Jerry Jackson Stockbridge senior Johnathan Robinson (44) attempts to take a charge against Drew’s Derrick Frye in the first half of Friday’s Region 4-AAA contest. Stockbridge upset No. 4 Drew 72-67 for the win.

The Drew High Titans started the fourth quarter of their Region 4-AAA contest Friday against Stockbridge as a team determined to ensure their seniors a reason to celebrate on Senior Night. But Trevin Joseph was even more determined to help give Stockbridge its own cause for celebration.

The junior put the Tigers on his back by lighting up the Titans’ home court with a game-high 37 points — 16 coming in the fourth quarter — leading Stockbridge to a 72-67 upset over Drew. That snapped the fourth-ranked Titans’ 10-game winning streak and drew high praise from Stockbridge head coach Bryan Lamar.

“Number 12 (Joseph) was tough tonight,” said Lamar. “He was tough. He was coachable. He was focused, and he stayed in attack mode all night. He showed tonight that he’s one of the best juniors in the region and in the state when he is on his game.”

After leading by as many as 13 points late in the second quarter, the Tigers were holding on to a less comfortable 48-42 advantage going into the third quarter. That’s when it seemed that Drew would begin to look like Drew again.

Rufus Brown electrified the crowd with a monster two-handed slam off a missed shot, Eloka Olisa picked off an errant Stockbridge pass and threw down a baseline jam and Troy University football signee Antonio Garcia’s dunk — also off of a missed shot — in consecutive possessions put the Titans up 50-48 with 6:46 left in the game.

Drew had new life. Stockbridge looked rattled. But Joseph set the Tigers’ world back in order by slashing to the rim for a layup while drawing a foul. His conversion on the three-point play put Stockbridge up for good, 53-52.

Joseph helped extend the lead and seal the game by going 9 for 10 from the free-throw line in the final three minutes, and Stockbridge finally did what it has been trying to do all year long — finish strong.

“We haven’t been able to put a full four quarters of good ball together all year,” said Lamar, whose team improved to 9-16 and 8-8 in the region. “We would start slow then pick it up, or we would start fast and finish weak. We knew Drew was going to put together a run because that’s what teams with phenomenal athletes do. But we were able to stick to our game plan and remain coachable and aggressive tonight.”

Stockbridge had already proved it could play with the region’s second-ranked team when it dropped a 51-49 decision to the Titans on Jan. 13, but its victory was just as much about confidence as it was skill.

“You’ll make a mistake if you play not to make a mistake,” said Lamar. “You can’t play that way against one of the best teams in the state, or else they’ll blow you out.”

With the loss, Drew fell to 21-4 overall and 13-3 in the region, but still can feel good about remaining solidly in second place behind Eagle’s Landing, heading into next week’s region tournament.

Stockbridge, however, is in no mood to rest on the laurels of its big win.

“Our team already understands that we’re entering a one-game season now in the tournament,” said Lamar. “We already know that this is a big win, but it will do us no good if we come out next week flat against a team (Eastside) that’s beaten us twice this season. If that happens, then tonight’s game will be the highlight of our year, and that’s not what we want.”

Drew had three players score in double figures — Barry Mayes with his team-high 12 points, while Brown and Olisa each had 11.

Nathan Greene chipped in 14 for the Tigers.