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‘Desperate’ Wolves nip Butler

December 30, 2018

RICHTON PARK, Ill. — Michigan City boys basketball coach John Boyd summarized the type of play he expects from his team as simply playing “desperate” for four quarters.

His Wolves, especially senior Rayshon Howard, who racked up a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds, played up to that energy level Saturday morning in the fifth-place consolation bracket game at the Rich South Big Dipper Tournament as City edged Butler College Prep in a 51-50 nail-biter.

Jaivion Reid added 12 points for the Wolves (7-4), which grabbed the one-point advantage with 1:16 left compliments of a free throw from Dez’Mand Hawkins, and City would double-down in the final minute on defense to preserve the win.

“We played desperate from the very beginning of the game,” Boyd said. “That’s what we need to do in every game we play. There were moments where we tried to give the game away, but we ended up pulling it out. We have to keep playing desperate. That’s my key word this year.

“I thought the guys fought today; they stayed focused and executed. The turnovers went way down, and we got them in foul trouble early. We wore out players on their team, which is the way we want to play. We want to play fast and challenge a team’s conditioning. It’s nice to get two wins in a row here.”

The game was a back-and-fourth affair, with Butler holding a slim 28-26 half lead and a 41-38 advantage heading into the final period. The Wolves would make up the difference in the final eight minutes, as Howard scored six of City’s 13 fourth-quarter points.

“Ray had a little talk with Coach Boyd today,” Boyd said. “It was for mental motivation, which he needed. I reminded him that he needs to extend himself a little bit more and be a lot more advantageous on the things that he’s capable of doing. We saw a lot of that; there was definitely a pep in his step.

“We need that from Ray to mature and grow as a player and a leader on this team and get these guys to understand what it means to be a Wolf. When we play like it’s the last game that we’re playing, everyone seems to play better.”

Butler lived and died from the three-point line, converting 7-of-20 attempts from the arc, while Reid provided the only two baskets from three-point range for City – though Howard’s inside presence, which resulted in a double-double, compensated for the Lynx’s long-distance assault.

Howard also provided stellar defense in the closing minute, taking a charge with 1:03 left with Butler attempting a go-ahead basket.

“I have listened to leaders in the past, and now I have to be a leader and set that example for the underclassmen,” Howard said. “We wanted this win, and we know we have to keep learning from previous mistakes and keep improving.”

Hawkins, who attempted just two foul shots in the contest, missed badly on his first pivotal charity toss with 1:16 remaining, but calmed himself to sink the go-ahead and eventual game winner for the Wolves.

“My teammates were giving me confidence (after the missed free throw),” Hawkins said. “I just had to believe in myself. It’s stressful in those moments, but you have to hit the shot. Thankfully, I hit one.”

Michigan City 51, Chicago Butler 50

Rayshon Howard powered the Wolves with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

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