By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
BRUCE – It was a frenetic start to a rivalry game in front of a loud and intense, jam-packed crowd at Bruce High’s gym Friday night.
But both Calhoun City and Bruce settled down in the second quarter, and it was the Trojans who emerged with another win over their Calhoun County rivals.
Donta Armstrong scored a team-high 17, Demetris Evans added 13 and Jarvis Tillman – who registered five of his eight blocks in the first period – just missed a triple-double as the Trojans hung on for a 62-54 victory.
In a December contest that didn’t count in the MHSAA Division 2-2A standings, the Trojans nipped the Wildcats, 62-60, in Calhoun City.
“We didn’t really say anything significant about slowing down,” said Trojans coach Davin Young, whose team improved to 10-2 overall and 2-0 in the division. “We just needed to settle down and make sure that we were making good passes.
“We wanted to take better shots and move the ball and work with each other. I think it all slowed down when we started to do a better job of all of that and it wasn’t so wild going up the floor.”
The Trojans started the game on a 10-2 run and led 17-10 after the first eight minutes.
Dartavion Primer (game-high 18 points) and Tabarrius Coffey (13), however, went to work in the second quarter, combining for 10 points, as the Wildcats (10-8, 1-1) pulled even. It was 25-all at the half.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with Tillman proving to be a disruptive force in the paint. The lanky fellow had a monster swat and an alley-oop dunk as the Trojans regained the lead and never looked back.
The senior finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks.
“We’ve always seen him block a lot of shots during a game,” Young said. “Eight sounds like a lot. … He usually gets several in a game, maybe not eight. It was a good night for him, I would say. It seemed like he rebounded really well.”
The Wildcats fell behind by 10 in the final minute of the third, and four points was the closest they got.
They missed 11 free throws in the second half.
“We came up short the first time (in December) when we missed free throws down the stretch and they beat us by two,” said Wildcats coach Daren Coffey. “Tonight, I think they outhustled us and outplayed us.”