Olympic’s Butler and Neal, Too Much for Trojans

This matchup was heavily anticipated, as both teams entered the game in the top three of their division. The Trojans looked to be in trouble early, as the Olympic Rangers broke off to an early run. In the first few minutes Olympic led 12-4, but Said Hersi wouldn’t let them pull away any longer. He went down the court to hit two beyond the arc and this ignited the Trojans as they began to fire on all cylinders. Derek Brown Jr. and Quadir Williams would take over the team the rest of the first half while leading the team in points and assists. Brown Jr. put up ten points to go along with four assists as Williams would put up nine points with five assists.

Both teams seemed to put up almost identical numbers in the first half which led to a 52-52 score at half time. The Trojans shot an incredible 53.8% alongside the Rangers 56.4%. EvCC played great team ball as Olympic went through two players, Elijah Butler and Brian Neal. Butler would lead in rebounds, 15 points and 7 boards, while Neal dropped a game high 28 points while shooting 64.7% from the floor and 60% from three.

In the beginning of the second half, both teams seemed to be riding their hot streaks as they kept dropping shots back and forth without either team pulling away. This changed when Hersi started to fire threes once again, hitting three beyond the arc back-to-back-to-back. “I came out sluggish last game, some of my shots were not falling. So I just set my feet and let the ball fly. I know what I’m capable of,” said Hersi on his shooting performance. With 15:57 left in the game, the Trojans looked to be asserting themselves as the better team by leading the Rangers 70-64. This would not continue as the Rangers started to slowly come back and the battle of back and forth was back on.

Every possession was greeted with screaming from the crowd as every shot counted with the neck to neck matchup. With a timeout and 8:02 remaining, the Rangers extended the lead to 7, the largest lead since the first few minutes of the game. However, as the Trojans stepped back onto the court after the timeout it seemed as if a different team had walked out there. The rest of the game would be filled with shots that couldn’t fall, sloppy defense, and momentum changing fouls for EvCC. Every call by the refs were answered with groans and yelling from the crowd. Head Coach Larry Walker had this to say about the officials, “Saturday nights you’re going to get all the D2 officials. These three guys we had tonight, this might have been there second game they’ve done all year.”

Behind the play of Butler and Neal, Olympic began to pull away as the Trojans started to look defeated. Williams said of the second half, “We let adversity get the best of us. We gave up pretty much, as a team, as a whole, no one individually.” Neal would end up with 43 points, along with Butler recording a triple-double of 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Hersi ended up leading the Trojans in scoring with 23 points and Williams would contribute by putting in his own double-double scoring 18 with 10 assists.

You can catch the Trojans next game at Shoreline Community College on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m.