Arthur Hill underclassmen prove they belong on the big stage
East Lansing – Through one quarter of the Class A semifinal against Lansing Everett, Saginaw Arthur Hill senior Eric Davis played exactly how you might expect a star senior to play as his high school career was winding down.
With the Lumberjacks trailing 19-13 heading into the second quarter, Arthur Hill needed the help of its underclassmen.
After spending the first quarter on the bench due to foul trouble, star sophomore Brian Bowen came alive in the final three quarters to help pace his team the rest of the way.
Also coming alive for Arthur Hill was junior Billy Burton, who hit three second-half 3-pointers to help the Lumberjacks pull away and defeat Everett, 73-61.
After picking up two fouls in the first quarter and held scoreless, Bowen scored five points in the second quarter and had 10 in the second half to help lead his team.
Arthur Hill coach Greg McMath said that getting Bowen back out on the floor in the second quarter had a huge impact for his team because of his ability offensively and to put another standout player back on the floor to take some pressure off of Davis.
“It was huge for us to get him back out on the floor,” he said. “He’s such a weapon offensively, he’s a bigtime player, an all-around player and he does a lot for us. Just his presence helps Eric calm down a little bit and the rest of the team calm down.”
Bowen said that when other players on the team get involved, aside from himself and Davis, it helps everyone get into their own rhythm.
“Everyone starts playing together after that,” he said. “All eyes are on him and me and when the bench comes out hard and picks up their game, knocking shots down, it makes it a lot easier for us.”
In the third quarter, Bowen threw down three dunks to give Arthur Hill a jolt of energy as it outscored Everett 23-13 in the third quarter to turn what was a six point deficit into a four-point lead.
Bowen said that he believed he and his teammates would have a chance to win a state title at the start of the season and he just wanted to put his team in position to have a chance to do just that on Saturday with his second half performance on Friday.
“It’s going to feel great being in the state championship,” he said. “It’s just a blessing when this is our main goal and at the beginning of the season, I said at the beginning of the year we’d be getting a state championship and here we are. We just have to come out tomorrow and get the win.”
It was Burton’s two 3-pointers, which came during a 16-3 run to end to the third quarter, that helped give the Lumberjacks some breathing room as they took a 58-45 lead into the fourth quarter.
Bowens wasn’t surprised by Burton’s outside shot in the semifinal, and said that simply the junior was living up to his nickname.
“We don’t call him Billy Buckets for no reason,” he said. “He came out pretty strong in this game and it helped a lot and if we get that from him in every game, we can win.”
Burton said that when Bowen and Davis get the attention that they do from opposing teams, he knows he has to be ready to come up in key situations for his team and said that he was ready for that on Friday.
“When teams focus on those two guys, I have to be ready to step up,” he said. “And I felt I was ready today.”