By Jerry Fraeyman
Sychar Sterling was a man among boys Thursday night, leading New Haven to a 66-57 victory over visiting L’Anse Creuse in a MAC crossover boys basketball game.
Along the way, the senior forward gave a demonstration of leadership by example.
Sterling scored 30 points on the night, including 16 of his team’s 18 points during a six-minute stretch spanning the second and third quarters. That spurt turned a six-point deficit into a 10-point lead that the Rockets (6-3 overall) never relinquished.
Joshua Harris (10 rebounds) scored 12 for New Haven. Ryun Crayton added nine.
“Sychar stepped up and took over the game. He’s that type of player,” New Haven coach Tedaro France said. “I can pull him aside and say, ‘it’s your team, I need you to step up,’ and he will. That’s what he did tonight. He’s been doing that for four years now. He’s a great kid, a great player, and a great leader. His teammates look up to him.”
Sterling’s baskets came in every variety.
With two minutes remaining in the first half and the Rockets down, 29-23, he grabbed a rebound and pushed the ball up court, ducking to avoid contact in the Lancers lane, then made an underhand, scooping lay up.
Three possessions later, with time running out, he took a pass at the top of the key and hit a turnaround jumper to tie the game, 31-31, at halftime.
But it was his second-half performance that made the biggest impact and impression.
Sterling, who also grabbed 15 rebounds, dished off five assists and had five steals, hit two straight three-pointers to start the third quarter, then intercepted an inbounds pass under the Lancers basket for any easy score. That put the Rockets up, 41-31.
“The turning point was when Sterling hit those two 3-pointers,” L’Anse Creuse coach George Woods said. “That got them fired up. Then he got that easy layup. Those eight points energized their team. That’s what leaders do. He got hot, his team got energized, and they rode him.”
The Lancers (2-8) started the game hitting on all cylinders and led, 22-12, after the first quarter.
Max Cook and Terrell Perkins, who both scored 18 points on the night, led the Lancers in the quarter with nine and six points, respectively.
“Max Cook played great for us tonight,” Woods said. “And Terrell Perkins stepped up, too.”
Woods was a bit frustrated by his team’s inability to hold their early lead.
“We have to learn how to win,” Woods said. “We were up by 10 at the end of the first quarter and came out flat in the second quarter. Then we had scored only points in each of the second and third quarters. We’re not going to win ball games playing like that. It’s as simple as that. “
France attributed his team’s slow start to the change in routine they’ve endured because of school cancellation caused by the recent weather.
“We came out like it is outside, very, very cold,” France said. “The kids haven’t had school and haven’t had that routine.”
L’Anse Creuse 22 9 9 17 -- 57
New Haven 12 19 18 17 -- 66
L’ANSE CREUSE (2-8): Andrius Miller 9, Max Cook 18, Andrew Courtemanche 5, Tavin Allison 6, Adam Samuel 2, Terrell Perkins 18. Totals: 19 (4) 15-16 – 57.
NEW HAVEN (6-3): Mike Kincaid 7, Ryun Crayton 9, Jyaire Mack 1, Daniel Walker 4, Joshua Mills 2, Joshua Harris 12, Sychar Sterling 30, John Galloway 1. Totals: 27 (4) 8-14 – 66.