GRIFFITH — Each notable ESPN personality has a catch phrase, with longtime anchor Kenny Mayne primarily using his when doing basketball highlights.
If Mayne was covering the highlights from Friday night's boys basketball game between Roosevelt and Times No. 4 Griffith, he would've said "he's tall" multiple times to describe the blocks of Roosevelt center Da'Kei Hines.
Eight to be exact.
The lanky, athletic senior was a nightmare for the noticeably shorter Griffith squad on the block and on the perimeter in his team's 67-64 nonconference win, contesting several more shots and disrupting Griffith's offensive flow in the process.
"Basically all I've known is defense since seventh grade, because I've never really been that good of an offensive player," said Hines, who scored 12 points, six of which came on dunks. "The fellas feed off my defensive energy and get rowdy."
The biggest lead of the first half was four, with Griffith wiping away Roosevelt's lead with two quick baskets at the 2:28 mark in the first quarter.
Hines' presence was especially felt in the paint in the first period, as one of his blocks came on an in-bounds play from Griffith in which senior Jake Dye beat everyone down the court, but Hines was able to catch up to him and swat his shot from behind.
"We had a bit of a stare down and I saw where he was running, so I was able to get to him and I wanted to try and toss that ball into the stands," said Hines, who also added nine rebounds and two steals.
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Hines had 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the first half.
Winner of six straight coming into the contest, Griffith (12-9) never let the visiting Panthers' lead get too out of control, as there were six lead changes in the second quarter and then another five in the third quarter.
Winner of nine out of its last 11 games, Roosevelt (10-9) built its biggest lead at 59-52 with 5:03 left, but the host Panthers quickly wiped it away over the next two minutes.
"Da'Kei has been a staple on defense and we didn't have him earlier in the year, so he brings a different dynamic," Roosevelt coach James Scott said. "Griffith played excellent help-side defense and made us come up in our press, but even though we didn't as many free throws down the stretch that we wanted, we still got the ball where it needed to go and took care of it in the fourth quarter."
Up 61-60, Roosevelt scored six out of the last 10 points in the game thanks to a couple stops, including one on block by Hines. Roosevelt junior guard Jeremiah Smith finished with a team-high 14 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, while senior forward Marquise Smith added 13 points and sophomore guard Tim Wilder posted 11 points and six boards.
Griffith junior guard Tim Lawson ended with a game-high 16 points and grabbed four rebounds and Dye finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"We were trying to wear them down, but they were well prepared and they withstood our pressure," Griffith coach Grayling Gordon said. "They had a little more than we could stand, and I would've liked to make some more adjustments, but Griffith is still rolling and we feel very positive going into the postseason."