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Darius Willis stole the ball and stormed down the court for an easy bucket with under 30 seconds left to give Warren Mott boys basketball a four-point lead over Warren Cousino that held up on the road, 69-65, on Thursday night.

It was that clutch play, among others, that made Mott (4-1) head coach Jeff Olind thankful for his experienced backcourt, led by Willis.

“It’s great having two experienced players in the backcourt,” Olind said. “They have a lot of ‘lead by example’ plays.”

Willis, the team’s leading scorer through five games, finished with 14 points, including that crucial steal with time winding down, and De’Jon Gantz led all scorers with 24 points. The latter also finished with five 3-pointers.

“Experience absolutely (played a factor),” Olind said. “It was a crowded gym against a crosstown rival and a big-time environment.”

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Jeremy Kitka led Cousino (1-4) with 17 points.

Mott was down 24-16 after just one quarter and then the defense buckled down, holding Cousino to four second-quarter points. It held a 10-point lead at the half and never looked back, but defense was still on Olind’s mind.

“We need to work on our defensive side of the floor,” Olind said. “When we don’t communicate, we give up open shots like we did. It all starts with communication.”

Mott will get a week off before starting league play at Grosse Pointe North.

More boys basketball

Grosse Pointe South 65, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 59: Daryl Houston had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Downey added 14 points and 10 assists for South (3-2). Corey McCray scored 21 for Chippewa Valley (1-2).

New Haven 79, St. Clair Shores Lake Shore 55: Romeo Weems had 34 points, 19 rebounds, 10 blocks, four assists and four steals, and Ronald Jeffery III had 25 points, five steals and five assists in the win for New Haven (2-1). Caleb Bates scored 12 for Lake Shore (2-1).

Girls basketball

Dearborn Heights Annapolis 43, Melvindale 23: Asia Cochran scored 16 and Hilley Terry 10 for Annapolis (2-0). Melvindale is 0-2.

Detroit Edison Black 41, Waterford Kettering 39: Ruby Whitehorn had 17 points and eight rebounds and Veshelle Farver had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Edison.

Riverview 56, Allen Park 43: Rayah Kolbusz scored 14, Shannon McAlinden 13 and Sam Dorn 12 for Riverview. Abbie Slate scored 19 for Allen Park.

Roseville 48, Eastpointe 20: DeBraya Edwards had 21 points, 16 rebounds, six steals and six blocks and Gracie Magree had six points and six rebounds for Roseville (1-1). Eastpointe is 0-2.

Utica Ford 47, Riverview Gabriel Richard 42: Evgenia Konguo scored 16 and Olivia Kubik 13 for Ford (1-1). Angela Cabalang had 12 points and three assists for Gabriel Richard (1-1).

Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.

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