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Titan fights through emotions to help lead East to win (w/gallery, video)

By Keldy Ortiz
Jan. 21, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2014 at 7:21 p.m.

Victoria East's Bryant Ennels goes up for a shot against a block attempt  from Victoria West's Isaac Simmons during the second quarter of Tuesday's game at East.

A mere 13 minutes before Victoria East faced its crosstown rival Victoria West on the basketball court, Bill Bena was carted off by emergency medical service workers at the East gym.

Titans coach John Grammer and Warriors coach Pat Erskine, along with spectators, watched as Bena was being attended to.

But one of the closest to him was East senior Austin Alexander, who wanted to see how his grandfather was doing.

Bena arrived Tuesday night to watch his grandson, Alexander, play. Unfortunately, he left with EMS before the game ever started.

Alexander almost left with him, but his parents told him Bena was dehydrated and would be all right.

With that, Alexander scored 14 points to help his fellow Titans achieve a 55-40 victory over the Warriors. The win put the Titans (16-10, 6-1) in first place in District 30-4A over the Warriors (17-10, 5-2).

"You never know how a kid is going to respond to that," Grammer said. "I think it was comforting to him that his mom, dad and some of the others came up to him and said 'Hey, your grandpa is going to be all right.' Still, in the back of his mind, his grandpa is much more important than any other game, even the East-West game."

"It's pretty emotional to see him (Alexander) pull through like that to help the team get the W," senior Deondric Lofton said. "It helps when you beat a crosstown rival."

Alexander knew playing Tuesday's game would be important for the Titans, but he was not himself emotionally.

"It was hard seeing him. I wanted to make sure he was all right," Alexander said. "We were ready for this game. We lost to them before. We hope it's our final loss."

Grammer was not going to hold Alexander back from playing. When Alexander stepped onto the floor, the Titans scored in transition and helped limit the Warriors to only having six players score.

"You just have to put it behind you," Erskine said about the defeat. "I think you have to learn to put it behind you. ... You can't dwell on the fact this game is going to define us in district."

Lofton helped the Titans with eight points.

The Titans started off in the right direction after the first quarter, when they limited the Warriors to four points.

When the Titans last played the Warriors, Alexander said the Titans didn't play well. Though the Titans lost by three points to the Warriors in their first meeting, the Titans knew they could hang with them.

Tuesday night solidified that fact, and now, East is in first place in District 30-4A.

Alexander, now in his final season, believed the Titans can finish this season the way they would like: as District 30-4A champions.

"It pumps us up," Alexander said. "It gets us ready for the playoffs. It's a big momentum booster."

Hopefully, Alexander's grandfather will be at the next game to cheer on his grandson and the rest of the Titans.

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