ADRIAN — Micah Saunders was the answer man Thursday night.
The Adrian junior came up big several times against Detroit Denby to keep Adrian in front of the visitors and lead them to a 66-56 win.
“He’s the ultimate effort guy,” said Adrian coach Jordan Kelly. “He’s kind of our do-everything guy. He plays out of position, out of necessity, and can hit big shots. Tonight, he knocked them down.”
Denby scored first to go up 2-0, but Stevie Elam’s 3-pointer on Adrian’s next possession gave the Maples a lead they would never relinquish. But they came close several times and each time it seemed Saunders was there to bail out Adrian (5-3).
When Denby cut it to 7-6 early, Saunders hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 13-6 lead. In the second quarter, Denby cut into an Adrian lead that was as much as 10 points to 28-25 before Saunders hit a triple, igniting an 8-1 run to go into the locker room up 36-26.
Denby narrowed the gap to 40-39 with 3:10 left to go in the third quarter before Saunders answered with a short jumper to make it 42-39 then nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the game to make it 45-39.
Saunders finished with a game-high 22 points before being ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after receiving his second technical foul of the game. It was a rough way to end what had been a great game.
“He’s disappointed in himself for that,” Kelly said.
Elam scored 13 points and Colin Henricks had 10 for Adrian. Joe Francis finished with 13 points.
Adrian had several players step up and play important minutes in the fourth quarter.
Sean Parker played solid on defense, Brennan McKenzie was the Maples main ball handler in the fourth quarter and Tristan Hayes played great down the stretch according to Kelly.
“We needed some guys to step up tonight and they did,” he said. “I’m very proud of the guys for coming through the way they did.”
Lenawee Christian 75, Washtenaw Christian 73: At Adrian, the Cougars survived a 47-point second half by the Wildcats to win for the second time this week and improve to 5-3.
Tyler VanEtten scored 24 points to lead LCS while Brandon Summer and Elliot Addleman scored 19 points each. LCS made nine 3-pointers on the night, including four each by VanEtten and Summer.
Vasile Girjev scored 36 for the Washtenaw Christian, who made six 3-pointers as a team.
The Cougars won the JV game 47-12.
Erie Mason 75, Britton Deerfield 42: At Erie, Erie Mason hasn’t played many basketball games so far this season, but it made a loud statement to the rest of the Tri-County Conference.
The Eagles scored 30 points in the first quarter, hit 13 3-pointers and beat a Britton Deerfield club which started the season 4-0. If the Eagles had any rust from not playing enough this season, they didn’t show it against the Patriots.
“When we get rolling, we are fun to watch,” said Eagles' coach Kevin Skaggs. “We got a couple inside baskets to start, and they started collapsing on us. That’s what we want. We have all kinds of kids who can shoot from the outside.”
Mark Sweeney hit the first two buckets for a 4-0 Mason lead. Carson Brown’s bucket from the top of the key made it 9-0. The lead swelled to 11-0 before BD got on the scoreboard. Casey Brown made five of his seven tripes in the first quarter and scored 28 of his career-high 29 points in the first half.
BD dropped to 4-2 with its second straight league loss to fall to 2-2 in the TCC.
Logan Shiels scored 12 points and Nico Johnson scored 10 to lead BD.
Grass Lake 56, Addison 42: At Grass Lake, Spencer Brown scored 13 points and Kobe Farrow added nine for Addison, but the Panthers couldn’t avoid losing for the fourth time in six tries.
Grass Lake got off to a great start, scoring 24 points in the opening quarter and was able to hold off Addison, which fell to 2-5 and 0-3 in Cascades Conference play.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Adrian boys basketball defeats Detroit Denby in non-conference play