At 2-10 in the Metro League, Lapeer West didn't seem to be a daunting opponent for first-place heading into Friday's game.
But minus second-leading-scorer Dylan Hickoff (illness) and starting point guard Eric Mowery (injury), that leveled the playing field some between the two teams, and major efforts from West's star sophomores, point guard Cullen Turczyn (26 points) and forward Zeshawn Parker-Jones (19 points) propelled West to a 70-55 upset as Fenton struggled rebounding the ball and struggled getting into their offense minus Mowery.
West, a team led by underclassmen, has lost several close games this season, so injuries or not, a chance at upsetting the first place team on the road was a big motivating factor.
"You start feeling bad for the kids, because they've been working so hard and not getting wins to show for it," said Lapeer West coach Andrew Roberts. "This definitely put smiles on all their faces. They played as hard as they have all year. They needed that."
Jones-Parker set the tone early with his tenacity on the offensive glass. A quick leaper, he was able to corral several rebounds by tipping them to himself then quickly elevating and getting baskets in the paint.
"We watched film on him and had a game plan to try and stop him, but as you can see, we didn't execute it," said Fenton coach Tim Olszewski. "We tried different things, and as a staff, we apparently didn't have them as ready as we thought and we're gonna do a better job."
West let by seven in the second quarter with about three minutes to go when Ryan Hickoff, Fenton's leading scorer, had to go to the bench after picking up his second foul. With Hickoff out of the game, West stretched its lead to double digits at the half.
In the second half, Hickoff, who was held to just three points in the first half, got his offense going, scoring 12 points in the third quarter and helping Fenton (13-3, 11-2 Metro League) get as close as seven. But West quickly built the lead back up to 10 and Fenton couldn't get closer than within nine points the rest of the way.
Hickoff led Fenton with 24 points and Conor Muntin added 11.
Fenton had held a one game lead in the league standings, but the loss against West combined with Holly's win over Kearsley Friday puts the teams in a first place tie heading into Tuesday's game at Fenton.
Fenton beat Holly earlier this season at Holly, but the Tigers still could be without their full roster in that game.
"We might not have Eric or Dylan against Holly," Olszewski said. "We're going to prepare in practice and our guys have to be ready to step in for them if they can't play."
In the first meeting with Holly, Fenton also played with a short bench. Ryan Hickoff . Fenton built an early 20-0 lead and withstood a late Holly charge to get the win.
In addition to Mowery and Dylan Hickoff, starter Joseph Eddy has an injured back, although he's been playing through it.
"We're not about excuses," Olszewski said. "But pick out any team and take out two starters and then a third guy who is only 50 or 60 percent, and it's tough."
Looming next Friday if Fenton beats Holly is a trip to Swartz Creek, who beat Fenton in Fenton earlier this season. Swartz Creek is just a game behind Fenton and Holly in the league standings.
"We still control our own destiny as long as we perform and do what we need to do," Olszewski said.