This is my latest cover story for Cleveland Scene magazine, published on Jan. 21, 2015. It’s a deep dive into the East Tech Scarabs, Cleveland’s best public school basketball program in a generation. Here’s the beginning of “The Program: Meet the East Tech Scarabs, a Cleveland Team Actually Worth Rooting For“:
With two minutes left in the third quarter in the jam-packed Glenville gym, the home crowd is getting restless, as visiting East Tech takes the air out of the ball. It’s Dec. 9, and the East Tech guards are calmly playing keep-away well beyond the 3-point line, content with slowing down the fast-paced game to a standstill, killing the clock to make sure the trailing Tarblooders don’t have a chance to touch the ball again this quarter.
“Man, I knew East Tech was going to stall, they always stall!” one frustrated Glenville dad says in the stands, as a smattering of boos start trickling from the crowd with their team down by 8. “Foul him!” the parent yells down, pleading for someone to send East Tech to the free-throw line.
But no: East Tech is still holding the ball as the crowd gets louder at each second that ticks off the clock. One minute. Thirty seconds. Fifteen seconds. Seven seconds. Finally, some action. East Tech senior guard Anthony Carmon puts the ball on the floor, uses a pick, drives left, cuts to the top of the key and lobs it to the right of the hoop in the path of charging sophomore guard Markell Johnson, who jumps and gently guides the ball in with a single smooth motion just before the third-quarter buzzer sounds.
East Tech coach Brett Moore wildly pumps his arm with the kind of enthusiasm that can only come from knowing it couldn’t have gone better. A collective groan from the home crowd lets out, recognizing that East Tech not only killed the final two minutes of the quarter, but ended it with a seemingly easy alley-oop dunk to boot.