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By Mike Moore

Staff Writer

 

Michigan Center — In mid-January, as his team was prepping to host Hanover-Horton, Travis Gaddy tried to downplay the game as much as he could.

 

At that time, his Michigan Center team had played just seven games, and he was quick to point out the marathon of a season basketball can be.

 

Well, as Gaddy and his guys get ready for tonight’s rematch at Hanover, the tone has changed.

 

“It’s a big one,” Gaddy said simply. “We’re much closer to the end now, and this is a game that can go a long way in terms of what we want to do.”

 

Center was 7-0 entering the first meeting, and took what was a tight, close game, and turned it into a 66-47 route.

 

“No matter what we think happened the first time, this is going to be 10-times more difficult,” Gaddy said. “Teams don’t go there and win too often.”

 

The Cardinals enter tonight’s showdown 15-0 on the year and a perfect 9-0 in the Cascades Conference.

 

Conversely, Hanover is 14-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play, needing a win to keep hopes alive to share the Cascades title.

 

To Gaddy’s point, Chad Mortimer and his Comets have not lost at home this year and are 7-1 overall since falling to Center Jan. 19.

 

Center has no wiggle room in the conference, either, as Napoleon is 8-1 and looms on the schedule next Wednesday.

 

“We’ve had a good season so far, but we have to be mentally prepared for this one,” Gaddy said. “We have to match their intensity and energy. I know that place will be rocking from the get go. We’re going to be shooting into their student section the whole first half. It’s a tough environment to play in.”

 

Averaging more than 72 points per game, Center will rely on its balanced scoring attack to try and tame the crowd.

 

Kylen Brown (13.8 points per game), Austin McKenzie (11.7), Connor Pelham (11.6) and Brett Haynes (9.5) are all capable of doing just that.

 

None of that will be easy, though, facing a Hanover defense that allows roughly 47 per contest.

 

“We have to play with the confidence we have,” Gaddy said. “We’re 15-0 for a reason. We played with an edge and a chip earlier in the year. We have to play with that again in this one.”

 

Center, which shared the conference title last year, has not won it outright since 1993.

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Mike Moore is a play-by-play commentator and Sports Writer for JTV Sports.

 

He’s also a Real Estate agent with Real Estate One, specializing with buyers and sellers throughout Michigan, from the Jackson area to metro Detroit. You can reach him at mjm12@albion.edu or by calling (313) 770-6365 with any inquiries.

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