Big third quarter leads Flushing past East Kentwood for first Class A title
Flushing – Just one state championship banner hangs in the Flushing high school gym. The banner is for the school’s girls golf state championship from 1977.
All season long, the Raiders’ girls basketball team has had the goal of hanging a banner of its own.
And on Saturday afternoon, Flushing has a second banner that needs to be hung from its rafters as the Raiders picked up a 49-38 win over East Kentwood in the Class A state final at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
“It’s really satisfying,” Flushing head coach Larry Ford said of his team’s state championship win. “It really is because people who aren’t in this don’t know how hard it is to get here. We understand how hard it is, I’ve been coaching for 13 years and it’s taken that long to get here and then the pressure gets a little bit more because you’ve got to win here because if not, you don’t know the next time you’ll be back.”
Coming out of halftime with a narrow two-point lead, Flushing would go on a 15-4 run, behind seven points from senior Lauren Newman and four from senior Breanna Perry to give the Raiders a 34-21 lead.
Ford said that he felt his team came out more focused in the second half, and that, along with limiting its turnovers helped Flushing to its strong second half start.
“I think it was a little bit more focus and effort was part of it,” he said. “That first half was pretty physical, so we talked about what we needed to do in the second half and that we needed to bear down and get a little more physical without fouling. We knew we had to take care of our turnover situation and I think we cut our turnovers down in the second half.”
Newman finished with a game-high 19 points, while Perry contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds in the win for Flushing (24-3).
A 3-pointer from Mauriya Barnes and an Alona Blackwell basket to end the third quarter, followed by a Corinne Jemison basket to start the fourth quarter would cut the deficit down to eight for East Kentwood.
“We didn’t play very well, we shot very poorly from the free throw line, we shot very poorly from the floor,” East Kentwood coach Jimmy Carter said. “You’re not going to win a game like that against a good team with that type of shooting percentage. I thought we played decent defense, they turned the ball over 14, 15 times, but we just didn’t capitalize. We can’t win a game when you miss layups that are wide open.”
Jemison finished with a team-high 12 points and six rebounds to lead East Kentwood (26-2).
But the Raiders responded with back-to-back baskets from Perry and another triple from Newman to push their lead back to double digits, 43-28.
“I don’t think it has really hit me that we are state champions,” Newman said. “It kind of feels like just another game in our season, but to achieve that goal and finally get a banner to put up, it’s an unreal feeling and it’s a great accomplishment for our team.”
Perry, who missed all of her junior season with a knee injury, said that she and her teammates are obviously proud to be responsible for bringing their school its first state title banner in 40 years.
“It means the world,” she said. “We’ve got one banner and it’s for golf, which was how many years ago? It’s nice to have another banner and it’s nice that it’s recent. I’m going to have to come back every day just to look at it.”
Editor's Note: Watch the highlights from this game and all of this weekend's girls basketball championship games on STATE CHAMPS! Sunday Morning at 9:00am on Fox Sports Detroit!