A football school, Stevenson reaches Class A quarterfinals
Sterling Heights – Sterling Heights Stevenson High has always been known as a football power.
Last Wednesday the school won its second boys basketball regional title, its first since 1983.
Third-year head coach Mark LaCombe has the Titans in the quarterfinals after stunning Warren De La Salle, 60-52, in a tough, physical region semifinal and then beat Roseville, 60-44, in the final.
"I am so proud of this group,” LaCombe said. "We learned a lot from some very tough losses.”
Stevenson dropped the season opener to De La Salle and lost a heartbreaker to No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Macomb Dakota in overtime.
"We led by 15 in the second half,” LaCombe said. "That is the game that changed our season even though it was a tough loss. That night we learned we can play with anyone. That with some tough nonleague games (they have) prepared us for the state tournament."
Stevenson’s other losses were to Rochester Adams and Detroit Western.
The Titans were unbeaten (12-0) back to back years in the Macomb Area Conference White Division but lost in the first round of the state tournament in 2014 and 2015 before making history this season.
LaCombe starts five seniors and he has become very close to this team.
"When we look back it will be the seniors who built the foundation to what we hope is a solid program for years to come,” he said.
Mylon Weathers is the defensive specialist who can also score. He held Clinton Township Chippewa Valley’s Steven Lloyd to 11 points and De La Salle’s top scorer, Kevin McKay, to 15.
Bryce Miller has become key element as he seems to always come up with at least one big play that turns the game around.
Vince Ramaci a three-year starter is accurate from beyond the arc. Stacy Howard (6-2) post player "who can simply leap out of the gym” according to LaCombe. Guard Luke Lamoreaux can score inside and out, and led the Titans with 16 points against De La Salle.
One of the key role players that comes off the bench is another senior, Austin Beba. LaCombe had so much praise for Beba.
"Whatever we ask him to he does it and then some," LaCombe said.
He will do whatever it takes to win. Beba is that one player every coach would like to have weather it’s scoring or doing something that won’t show up in the score book.
"He’s truly our spark off the bench. The only numbers he looks at is the final score,” LaCombe said.
Stevenson is expected to move up to the Red Division next season and LaCombe said that’s just fine.
"I think some people who don’t know about our program think, oh, it’s only the White Division," he said. “And it’s given us a little chip on our shoulder. We are in this to win it. We played a good schedule outside the White and it’s made us better.
“We had a heck of a summer, played some tough teams this season and have a lot of experience.
“This is not just a two-year run. We have some valuable juniors and expect to be very good next year. When called upon they have come through. Next season’s core of Kyle Young, Benson Onyes, Jahi Hinson and Aaron Williams are solid and this run we’re on is a great experience for them.
"Some say we start the five seniors and that’s all there is. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are five great leaders, but they know we have a bench that can step up and when called upon they have answered the bell.
"Yes the future is bright and we have built the foundation, but right now all we are focusing on is North Farmington and our matchup at Calihan Hall."
Stevenson (20-4) will play North Farmington (22-2) in a Class A quarterfinal on Tuesday at Calihan Hall at 7 p.m.
When talking about Tuesday’s game, LaCombe said "we are very similar teams. We have great respect for them, but feel we match up well.
“We are looking forward to the challenge and the kids are (pumped) up to play on a college campus such as Detroit Mercy.
“We feel we are playing our best basketball at the right time.”