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Wolves clip Bluejays wings in OAA league game

Nick Tatu guards against Southfield offense. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
February 09, 2011 - Fans sat on the edge of their seats watching in anticipation the last few minutes of Friday's game.

Southfield's Desmond Barnes sank a basket to get a lead on Clarkston 54-51.

The crowd cheered as Wolf Marcus Hardy stole the ball and passed it to teammate Nick Tatu, who scored two points.

A foul on Tatu sent him to the line where he sank one point to tie the OAA Red game.

The battle ensued for another minute with neither team scoring on their attempts.

A foul on Tatu sent him to the line for two points and time stood still as the ball slowly topped it's arched pathway. It came back down through the rim both times, putting Clarkston back into the lead, 56-54.

The final seconds counted down and Patrick Onwenu made a final shot for Southfield. Clarkston fans cheered after it missed, sending the Bluejays to the locker room with a loss.

"It was probably the best we have played all year," said Tatu with a smile following the game. "It was a big win for us. Marcus played the best game I have seen him play."

He added the boys only had one practice before the game because of school cancellations due to the snow.

"We knew it was our second chance to get back at them. It could be our only chance this year so we had to make it count," he said about the team's drive.

"It was a tremendous win for us," added long-time Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Dan Fife.

Southfield opened the game with two points at the line from David Dawson. Tatu tied the score moments later with his basket and the Wolves inched ahead on the scoreboard.

With a minute to go in the first quarter Bluejay James Goodman sank a 3-pointer to bring Southfield into the lead. It was shortlived after Matt Rodgers added his own field goal with 35 seconds left.

Control flipped back and forth into the second quarter until two baskets from Tatu and Matt Dellinger gave Clarkston the edge.

Fouls against Southfield put Tatu and Mitch Baenziger at the line with a minute to go for two attempts each. They made their shots leading halftime, 30-24.

The Wolves spent the next eight minutes adding onto their lead until Southfield started catching up to them in the last quarter.

"During the last game the same thing happened," said Tatu. "We were up and then we let them back into the game. But this time we responded to what happened. We got a run at the end which helped us a lot and we just focused on Barnes.

Tatu scored 23 points in the game.

"He just keeps getting better with scoring," said Fife. "We just have to give him a little more room to score."

Baenziger added 16 points in the win.

"He was just good," said Fife. "He let the game come to him rather than forcing the game.

Hardy put eight points on the board and had nine rebounds.

"I liked our effort tonight," said Fife. "We have been so up and down with our effort. When they have that kind of effort, which they should have, we can be pretty good."

The Wolves played on Tuesday in a OAA White crossover game against Troy (11-2). They head to Oak Park on Thursday night (2-11). They are back home on Feb. 15 against Farmington Hills Harrison.

"We need to have the same intensity," said Tatu. "Just keep playing as hard as we can. I don't think we will be beatable again if we play with that intensity - just work hard every game."

The boys are now 7-5, 5-2 in the OAA Red - tied for the league title.

With the rollercoaster season the boys have had Fife is conscious after the next few weeks.

"We have to just make sure we are mentally ready to play," he said.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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