Boys Basketball: Cleveland Plays For Pride In Win Over Grant


Clarion photo Henry Light

Jackson Cooper (34) fires a no look pass to Jackson Owens (13) to mixed reactions from Cleveland’s coaching staff.

There was an inevitable storyline in Cleveland’s 56-42 win over Grant on January 20th; the return of former coach Dondrale Campbell and senior wing Christian Green, who moved from Cleveland to Grant at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Both Campbell and Cleveland reacted emotionally to his departure in the offseason, but they showed each other a massive amount of respect both pre and post game on January 20th. While the rivalry between Cleveland and Grant appears to be much more competitive than personal, and largely fueled by an existing historic rivalry, Campbell and Green’s return was always going to be put under a microscope.

When the game started and Christian Green was guarding Jackson Cooper, the storyline became even more imminent. Cooper opened the scoring by catching a pass behind the arc and working past Green to finish in the post through two defenders on the first play of the game.

Cleveland and Grant have very similar makeups in terms of top scorers this season, with Cooper for Cleveland and Green for Grant scoring very consistently and the other’s who step up around them depending on the night. For Grant that group has included junior Vashon Hardges, junior Charlie Kapranos, and senior Josh Peeler, who have all led the team in scoring at least once this season. For Cleveland junior Jackson Owens, senior SC Tresvant, and senior Jamel Pichon have all similarly complimented Cooper’s consistency. In the first quarter this became important with Cooper and Green playing strong two way games against each other and needing to count on other scorers.

The first quarter started slow, with a Ben Lyons 3 with 2:08 to play giving Cleveland a 9-6 lead. Grant’s Josh Peeler scored their final two points of the quarter in response to two SC Tresvant free throws, bringing the score to 11-6 with 1:11 left. In this final minute Cleveland would gain enough momentum to last them the remainder of the game.

The great final minute for the Warriors started with 51 seconds left, when Cooper brought his point total to six with the nicest of his three post moves in the first. Similarly to his first two points, Cooper caught a pass at the top of the key and drove toward the baseline, this time pivoting back toward where he came from and finishing with a fadeaway over Kapranos.

On the other end, SC Tresvant came up with a huge stop for Cleveland, rising up with Green as he went for a layup and knocking the ball away. When the rebound fell to Grant with 11 seconds left, Will Susak was able to stop them from exploiting a disorganized Cleveland defense by coming up with a steal and feeding Ben Lyons for a corner three. When Lyons missed, Jackson Owens was there to tip it in and put Cleveland up 15-8 at the end of the first quarter.

On the last play of the first Christian Green went down with an injury after going up for an offensive rebound on the final shot. Green would not return, but has been back in Grant’s lineup since, so he will have a chance at a real revenge game on February 11th 2023 when the teams meet again at Grant.

Cleveland harnessed their momentum and went on a 10-2 run in the first 3 minutes of the second quarter, including an Owens three off a no look pass from Cooper, and a Tresvant steal leading to an easy layup to finish a fastbreak.

Grant responded with four points of their own, courtesy of a mid range jumper by Kapranos and a tough contested layup by Keion James, bringing the score to 26-16 with 2:55 to play in the first half.

The half would end at that score, with Cleveland dribbling out almost two minutes of the last four minutes, and each team coming up with two defensive stops. Despite the lack of action, Cleveland still finished another quarter with momentum after Josh Huss sent back a Kapranos layup attempt on the last play of the first half.

The Warriors didn’t allow Grant to gain any ground in the third quarter, led early by 5 points and another block for Josh Huss. Both teams were successful in getting to the free throw line, but Cleveland pulled ahead more by complementing those free throws with points in the paint and a corner 3 by Tresvant. By the end of the 3rd quarter Cleveland led the Generals 41-25.

When Will Susak set up Ben Lyons for an easy mid range shot to open the 4th it looked like more of the same for Cleveland, but Grant finally started to push back at this point.

It started with a layup by Keion James with 5:54 left, immediately followed by a stop on Cleveland’s next possession and a fastbreak layup by Josh Peeler. This brought the score to 44-31 with 5:23 left.

Grant wouldn’t truly put the pressure on until the final 3 minutes, starting with Cleveland up 48-33. The Generals’ run began when Charles Mangio was able to beat Jackson Owens to the outside and finish with a tough layup. That started a 9-2 run for Grant, ending with a three by Josh Peeler which prompted a Warriors timeout with their lead cut to 8.

Warriors coach Sam Glasgow solved Cleveland’s problems in the timeout, and they shut out Grant in the final minute to secure a 56-42 win.

The Warriors have been looking ahead to this matchup against their former coach since the start of the season, so it is only fitting that their performance showed their progress since the start of the 2022-23 season. Cleveland has rediscovered an ability to score at will in the post, which was their identity as an offense last year. They’ve also addressed their biggest question mark coming into the season, which was three point shooting. Ben Lyons has emerged as a specialist in that role, and Jackson Owens and SC Tresvant have also found more success recently. In their first year under Sam Glasgow the Warriors have grown immensely since the start of the season, and they were able to prove that with a win over their biggest rival in 2023.