When East began Friday evening's battle of Yale Cup unbeatens by storming to a 14-0 lead, one wouldn't think it would be needing a similar run to win the game.
But after Grover Cleveland spent the middle quarters running-and-gunning its way to an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, East used a 17-4 run to earn a crucial win at Grover, 68-65. Jamal Webb scored 10 of his 21 points during the run, which took place in the last 5:30 of the game.
East (11-2), the No. 2 small school in Western New York, is now the only unbeaten in the Yale Cup at 5-0. Grover Cleveland (9-5), the No. 5 large school, is 5-1.
"This was big because they were undefeated and we were undefeated," said Webb, a junior. "It was an up-and-down game, and we stuck in there."
Grover, led by a great game from Tyshawn Edwards (23 points), bounced back from East's 17-6 first quarter by using full-court pressure to wear the East lead down to 29-27 at halftime. East, behind strong performances from forwards Damien Goodwin (17 points) and Antonio Speed (15), still had a 46-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Presidents appeared headed for a win when they went on a 12-3 run.
Anthony Greene (12 points) began the quarter by splitting two defenders on a strong drive, then he had two straight steals, one which led to an Edwards layup and another that ended with Edwards feeding lane-cutting Anthony Caba for a razzle-dazzle finish. When Ernest Maddox (10 points) hit two free throws with 5:33 left, Grover had a 57-49 lead.
Webb sandwiched a pair of free throws with two deep three-pointers, and East regained the lead (62-61) when Justin Boykin swished a long three of his own for his only basket of the game.
"In the end we played not to lose in the fourth quarter instead of playing to win," said Grover coach Earl Schunk. "We were down so much, we played with nothing to lose. Then when we got the lead, it was almost like it was too soon."
East's next league game is Jan. 30 against No. 6 large school McKinley.
"It gets tougher and tougher," said East coach Starling Bryant. "It's never over. We're looking forward to it."