Beecher advances to Class C final once again with 76-68 win over Detroit Edison
East Lansing - Malik Ellison said he was so focused that he barely noticed the fans and all of the noise inside the Breslin Center on Thursday.
As the game progressed, the Flint Beecher senior guard did become aware of one special fan rooting for him.
“At halftime, one of my former teammates, Miles Bridges...he told me, ‘Malik, man, you know you’ve got to step it up.’” Ellison said of Michigan State's freshman standout. “And I said, ‘yeah, I got you. You know, because you came out here to watch me.’
"From childhood, we grew up playing on the same AAU team. So it was good to see him come out and support me.”
Ellison scored 28 points as Beecher knocked off Detroit Edison, 76-68, in a Class C semifinal. Beecher will play the winner of Grand Rapids Covenant Christian-Manton for the title on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Beecher (22-5) has won the last two titles and four of the last five.
“I feel more poised this year because it’s our senior year and we want to go out with a bang and we want to three-peat,” said senior Jordan Roland, who had 10 points and seven rebounds.
A big part of Beecher’s success was the defense of 6-7 senior Lavane Blake, who had four of his six blocked shots in the first quarter.
“It’s been a frustrating 3 1/2 years for him,” Beecher coach Mike Williams said of Blake. “Depending on where we play at, he’s able to play his game, he’s able to get physical, he’s able to block shots. Then when he just touches somebody, he’s in foul trouble. Now he’s gotten smarter. I put him in the game (today) with four fouls with five minutes to go. I trust him.”
It was a tight game through the first three quarters as Beecher led 29-27 at halftime. The Bucs pulled away in the fourth with Jalen Terry making a statement with his 3-pointer with three minutes left.
Ellison is a 5-7 guard who was named Class C Player of the Year by the Associated Press on Thursday. He remians undecided on what college he will attend in the fall.
“Coming into the season, I was highly doubted; underrated,” he said. “I just felt like if I could show the state my abilities and get back on this stage, everybody will take notice.
"My only (scholarship) offer right now is Eastern Michigan. But Akron, Northern Illinois and Kent State are looking at me, too.”
Williams said he knew this would be a special group of seniors four years ago.
“I remember after winning our state championship in 2013 with Monte Morris,” Williams recalled. “The next day, they had an 8th grade game and I went to go see ‘em play. I remember this kid (Blake) getting a steal and going in for a dunk. I remember this kid (Ellison) pulling up for a three. I remember the chemistry they had. I told myself ‘I think we’ll be going down to Lansing a few more times.’”
Now the have a chance to win three-straight state titles.
For Beecher, Terry added 15 points and Blake and Roland each had 10.
Ellison was 15-of-21 from the free-throw line and also had seven rebounds and seven assists.
Jamal Keesee led Edison (14-12), making its first semifinal appearance, with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He was followed by Deante Johnson with 17 points and nine rebounds, Gary Solomon with 15 points and Pierre Mitchell with 10 points.