It’s on now! The finals are set. By Sunday morning, four schools will have a new prized possession. It’s the culmination of years of work. The season started with everyone having a dream of playing tomorrow, but only eight teams are left. These are what most would consider the best of the best. Before I talk your ears off about how cool it would be to win a state title, let’s examine the eight teams with a chance at bringing the Michigan shaped trophy back to their hometowns.
Romulus (26-1) vs. Detroit Southeastern (21-5) (Noon)
Romulus has had a fantastic season. The only blemish against them was back on December 8th, the second game of the season (lost to Detroit Pershing.) This team runs an up tempo offense and scores a ton of points. In the semifinal victory over Drake Harris and Grand Rapids Christian, they were able to take advantage. Elbert Matthews was the lead scorer, chipping in 37 of his team’s 76 points. He also grabbed six boards and tossed an assist. Leonardo Edwards scored 12 points. If I were to pick a team that I think will almost certainly win a state title, this would be the team. They are very good this season.
Detroit Southeastern is no slouch. In order to get to the final, they had to beat defending state champion Saginaw High. They had a very close game and was able to pull out the W in the final minute of the game. Jovone Haynes played very well, scoring 13 points and making life very difficult for Saginaw High. He also grabbed four boards and tossed two assists. One of his three steals lead to his Jungleers taking the lead with under a minute to play. Daryl Bingham outscored him though, with 14 points. Bingham also had six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. If Southeastern wants to win this game, they had better score 80 points.
Detroit Country Day (24-3) vs. Detroit Community (18-9) (6:30 pm)
The Yellowjackets seem to be in the finals a lot. Their head coach, Kurt Keener is the winningest active coach in the state with 677 wins. If his squad can win the title, it will be the ninth under Coach Keener. In their semifinal win over Cadillac, they had a great game. Leading the team in scoring was Edmond Sumner with 30 points, five rebounds, and six steals. Mory Diane scored 11. The team stole the ball 21 times from Cadillac. This team has a lot of speed and they like to run the floor. That is why I think they will come out as champion for the first time in the past three seasons.
Detroit Community played a schedule that Tom Izzo would be proud of. Of their nine losses this season, two of them came at the hands of the squads playing in the Class A title game and another is playing for the Class D title. They played a very rough schedule and it pushed them to excel. Byron Ziegler was the top scorer for his team with 17 points. Ziegler also grabbed 12 rebounds, stole two balls, and tossed three assists. Jerrell Martin and Demetrius Rose each chipped in nine points. Although I think that Community is the underdog, the rough schedule has given them confidence that they can play with anyone. I’m not counting them out, but they will have to play lights out.
Flint Beecher (26-1) vs. Laingsburg (24-2) (4:30 pm)
Flint Beecher has been in this position a few times recently. It’s the third time since 2000 that they’ve played for a state title. The Bucs were led by Monty Morris with 29 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. He was also named Mr. Basketball this past week. Emmanuel Phifier scored 14 points and grabbed five boards. The program is doing very well. They have a wonderful chance at repeating as Class C champions.
Laingsburg is no slouch. They had a good game and a made a huge shot with virtually no time left to get the W and send the squad to their first ever championship game. Senior Shaun McKinney hit a bank shot with 0.2 seconds remaining. I’m sure that shot will put him in Laingsburg lore for decades to come. He finished with 16 points and four rebounds. Jake Zielinski scored 18, including 12 of 14 from the charity stripe. It will be very difficult to play Beecher. It is not impossible but they will have to play a complete game.
Wyoming Tri Unity Christian (25-2) vs. Southfield Christian (22-4)
This is the fifth trip to the state finals for Tri Unity since 2000. Two seasons ago, they hoisted that trophy as state champions. Coach Mark Keeler has been at the helm for 26 seasons and his teams haven’t had a losing season since 1992. They play a tough schedule as well with plenty of Class A and B teams tossed in. In their win over Powers North Central, Daniel Cole scored a team high 18 points. He also had three rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Joey Blauwkamp scored 10.
Southfield Christian is no slouch. They had to work hard to get the win over Lansing Christian. 123 shots were taken between the two teams and there were 17 lead changes. Bakari Evelyn, a sophomore, led his team to victory by scoring 22 points, including 13 of 15 from the free throw line. Teammate Lindsay Hunter IV scored 21, grabbed four boards, and stole five balls. This game could go either way. Both teams have plenty of experience. It will come down to the little things like taking care of the ball. I think Southfield Christian will repeat as state champs in the end.