GIBSONTON — As East Bay prepared to pull its starters in the closing minutes of Tuesday’s 70-53 smothering of Strawberry Crest, a familiar chant started in the bleachers: “Over-rated.”
The Indians (8-1) were undeterred by the Chargers’ No. 7 state ranking in Class 7A and dominated from the start to rip off their seventh consecutive victory. East Bay also avenged its only loss of the season — a 29-point defeat to Strawberry Crest last month, back when the Indians’ football playoff run left its basketball team undermanned and overmatched.
“We’re a pretty good team when we have our full complement,” Indians coach Billy Teeden said.
That showed Tuesday night. A week after East Bay gave Lennard its first loss of the season, the Indians repeated the feat against Strawberry Crest (9-1) with a dominant defense. The Chargers shot 3-of-15 from the field in the fist quarter and mustered only 16 points in the first half.
East Bay had no trouble getting its offense going. Anton Crutcher — a defensive back/receiver who missed the previous meeting because of football — single-handedly matched Strawberry Crest by scoring seven of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter.
After James Davis hit a 3 in the closing minute of the first quarter, the Indians led by double digits the rest of the way to help East Bay tie the Chargers atop the Class 7A, District 7 standings.
“We’re starting to play together and make that extra pass,” Teeden said.
It helps that the Indians have extra players to pass to, like Crutcher and senior Kendell Barnes, who scored a season-high eight points in his fourth game back from a broken hand.
“It’s good to have another big person under there,” said Crutcher, who added eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Division-I guard prospect Jonathan Jean and senior guard Marwan Williams both scored 11 points for East Bay.
Malik Channer led the Chargers with 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Shelton Faison (11 points), Austin Griffin (11) and Isiah Channer (10) also scored in double figures for Strawberry Crest.
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.