BY ED WRIGHT
Feb. 26, 2010, 11:10 p.m.
On a cold-shooting night when the baskets must have seemed about the size of Dixie cups for Plymouth and Canton basketball players, Chiefs Alec Martin and Dietrich Lever were in the zone.
Martin drained all three of his first-half shots -- all long-range triples -- and Lever scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Chiefs to a 45-36 victory over the Wildcats.
Canton, which improved to 13-6, won the season series from the 10-9 Wildcats, two games to one.
"Alec was big off the bench tonight," said Canton coach Jimmy Reddy. "He hit two threes on Tuesday (against Livonia Stevenson) and he's been better at practice. We keep evaluating the guys and if they're better at practice, they're going to play in the games. They left Alec open tonight and he took advantage of it.
"Whenever we're getting a little stale on offense, Dietrich finds a way to get to the rim; and he has a great pull-up 15 footer. He's makes a lot of great plays defensively, too, that get our transition game going."
With the exception of Lever and Martin, shooting was a challenge Friday night. The Wildcats shot a frosty 13-for-39 while the Chiefs other than the two before-mentioned players connected on just six of 20 shots.
"I liked our energy and effort the whole night tonight," said Reddy. "We didn't do a good job of rebounding in the first half, but we fixed that a little in the second half.
"Defensively, we kept them in front of us tonight and made them shoot contested shots, whether it was twos or threes."
Brandon Duffey tallied nine points and three steals for the Chiefs, who also received six points from Paul Baumgart and five from Kevin Weisz.
Baumgart's final basket with 28 seconds left was a crowd-pleaser: a dunk that helped put the icing on the victory for Canton.
Plymouth's scoring ledger was very balanced. Stephen Jahn and Pat Salo both netted eight points while Brennen Beyer scored seven and Mike Nadratowski had six.
Three Chiefs -- Lever, Weisz and Baumgart -- hauled down five rebounds a piece. Beyer led Plymouth with nine boards while Salo grabbed six.
Canton led 22-20 at the half and 29-23 after three quarters.
The Wildcats pulled to within 31-28 on a Salo triple and a Nadratowski drive with 5:10 to play, but the Chiefs answered with a Duffey driving layup and a Lever jumper to gain a 35-28 edge.
An old-fashioned three-point player from Beyer brought Plymouth to within 41-36 with 35.3 seconds left, but Baumgart's slam and a pair of free throws from Weisz closed the door on a Wildcat rally.
The Chiefs won despite shooting just eight for 18 from the free throw line. Plymouth was eight for 12 from the stripe.