LORDSTOWN - The two games that A.J. Henson has played this week have been as about polar opposites as can be.
Grand Valley's 5-foot-10 senior guard was held to 12 points Tuesday night in a loss at Lakeview, being so sick he had to go to the hospital afterward.
Friday night at Lordstown, Henson was back to his old self, scoring 22 points in leading the Mustangs to a 65-59 victory in this Northeastern Athletic Conference intra-division game, in the process setting a new Ashtabula County scoring record.
GV beats Lordstown in Northeast Athletic Conference battle.
"Obviously it feels great. It's where we want to be," GV coach Luke Strohm said. "I think we still have a lot of work to do in terms of getting ourselves back to where we want to be. We have a lot of things we still need to work on. Some rebounding, we missed a lot of bunnies tonight. But I was happier with the intensity tonight than I was against Lakeview."
Henson now has 1,455 career points, one ahead of Matt Zappitelli, who played at Conneaut from 1985-88. Steve Savel (Pymatuning Valley, 2005-08) with 1,440 points is third.
"It's exciting. A lot of great players have come through Ashtabula," Henson said. "To be the all-time leading scorer you have to have a lot of support, and that's what I have in that locker room.
"A lot better than I was," Henson added of his current condition. "It was pretty bad. But I'm back to normal now, and everything's going good."
Fittingly, Henson's record-breaking basket came just when it was most needed. Lordstown had gone on a 9-2 run to pull within 47-40 and seemed to have the momentum going its way. Henson drove to the right and calmly layed in a shot with 4:59 left to not only set the new mark but also take the heart away from the Red Devils. He was pulled from the game shortly afterward after his only basket of the final period.
"What can you say about him? He's the first guy in the gym and the last guy to leave," Strohm said. "I don't know how many times I've seen him staying after practice and taking another 150, 200 shots. He's put the time in ever since he was a little boy. I certainly think he's gotten out of it what he's put into it."
GV (7-3) would not lead by any less than seven points the rest of the way until Jake Jones banked in a 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
"One thing we talked about is doing things together, not trying to do them individually, and being disciplined," Lordstown coach Brent Villella said. "The guys are developing into their roles as they get more experience on the floor. We did that in the first half. They missed some shots, so it was a combination of things. I thought we played together, we played simple basketball. We worked together on both ends of the floor."
Henson helped his team pull away in the third quarter, hitting a 3-pointer for a 39-28 lead, then adding another basket later on for a 43-28 advantage.
"We have a lot of guys on this team, so it's not just me doing everything," Henson said. "We've got guys who can pass; rebounding was a big deal that had to get over and we did a better job in the second half. A lot of guys got open and we just found them."
"Very good guard," Villella said of Henson. "That's what big-time players do. They hit timely shots when you're starting to chip away at their lead."
The Mustangs also got solid production from 6-1 senior Mitchell Lake. He led GV with 23 points, scoring eight points in each of the second and fourth quarters.
"Mitchell definitely has the ability to grab some big boards, he does a good job setting some good screens and rolling the right way," Strohm said. "This season he's had a couple of real big buckets for us. In the game against Maplewood a few weeks ago, he hit the game-winner, so he's definitely accustomed to stepping up and being able to hit the big shot when it counts."
Lake made a pair of free throws, then added a basket to help GV maintain a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. He also scored GV's final two points of the game.
GV had a difficult time separating itself from Lordstown in the first half, leading only 12-10 after the first quarter and 26-21 at halftime. The Mustangs missed several open shots that they should have made.
"In the first half, we probably missed at least four bunnies," Strohm said. "We could've had another 10 to 12 points in the first half. We were 1 of 9 from 3-point range. That's shooting too much when it's not falling. I wanted to attack more. I thought we were able to do that a little more in the second half."
Jones paced Lordstown (3-9) with 19 points. Steve Gill had 12 and Zack Wells put in 10.