Leadership rallies past Edison Tech

Ray Boyd (Leadership) and Nahjhime Kirton (Edison Tech) battle for a rebound. (PHOTO: JOHN LIKANJE)

By JOHN LIKANJE

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Ja’mez Aiken knocked down a pair of go-ahead free throws in the waning seconds as the Leadership Academy Lions rallied past the Edison Tech Inventors, 56-54, for their fourth straight win to open the season.

The Lions, who had trailed the entire game, took their first lead, 52-51, on a Maurice McKinney foul shot. After giving up a bucket on the other end, Aiken was fouled and connected twice from the charity stripe with 49.5 seconds left.

“I was just thinking light,” the senior guard said on making the go-ahead free throws. “I got to put the team on my back at this point. I had a lot of pressure on me, but I didn’t think about it. I just shot the free throws. They went down.”

The Lions got two more defensive stops and Shamir McCullough and McKinney made a free throw apiece to extend the lead to 56-53. McKinney intentionally fouled Inventors guard Javonte McKnight with 3.9 seconds remaining to prevent a potential game-tying three-pointer. McKnight purposefully missed the second foul shot, but Aiken tipped the ball to himself as the buzzer sounded.

Trailing by as much as 13, the Lions switched to a press defense and stormed back with a 12-0 run to stay within striking distance, including tying the game six times in the second half.

“We got to fight through adversity,” Aiken said as the Lions held the Inventors to 24 second-half points. “We was down at halftime, so I feel like we came here and it was basically like a video game. Our coach told us that we got to start boxing out and playing defense. The press was successful because we all helped each other on every shot and got back on defense. We broke down from our press and went straight into man.”

“Our press is pretty good,” Lions head coach William Broome acknowledged as his squad forced 22 missed field goals and 17 turnovers in the final 16 minutes. “We have some really good guards. We have some really good forwards that, in terms of their ways of seeing the ball, they’re kind of like a cornerback in football. They see it in the air and they go to get it.”

Kenny Hardeman netted eight points in each half for a team-high 16. The senior forward snatched 13 rebounds, swiped a pair of steals and blocked two shots.

Aiken scored nine of his 14 points in the final 16 minutes of game action and swished a pair of three-pointers. The senior guard collected a rebound and an assist as well.

McCullough had eight of his 12 points in the second half and connected on 3-of-4 free throws in the fourth quarter. The senior guard corralled two rebounds, swiped two steals and blocked a shot. McKinney made 9-of-12 attempts from the charity stripe en route to 11 points and collected four assists, two boards and a steal.

Nuhsar Mike (2) and Ray Boyd (1) rounded out the scoring for the Lions.

For Edison Tech, Torrean Lewis produced 16 of his game-high 18 points through the first three quarters.

Shaheem Ellis, Jr. swished three long-range shots as part of his 11 points. Jarell Johnson scored 10 off the bench. Nahjhime Kirton (6), McKnight (5), Edgar Bass IV (2), Andy Larancuent (2) and Mike Morgan (1) rounded out the scoring for the Inventors.

Leadership hosts Franklin Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Edison Tech travels to McQuaid Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

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