In Play with Tom Markowski


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Inconsistency at the free throw could play a role in Beecher’s try at a third consecutive state title

By: Tom Markowski, February 7, 2017, 4:00 pm

Flint – This season Flint Beecher has lost more games (4) than it did the previous two combined.

The Bucs were 26-1 in 2015 and 24-2 last season when they won Class C titles. As is the norm, coach Mike Williams has scheduled a number of games against teams that compete in a higher classification so as to best prepare his team for the tournament. The Bucs have played three teams ranked in the top 10 in Class A and they defeated defending Class A champion U-D Jesuit, 59-57, in overtime.

Despite the four losses Beecher will be one of the top three or four favorites when the tournament begins on March 6. 

There is a fly in the ointment, however. Free throw shooting has been a bit of a bugaboo for the Bucs. They missed 14 free throws in a 50-48 loss to Ypsilanti, a Class A school, at the Delta College Showcase on Saturday. Beecher (11-4) bounced back on Tuesday with a 70-45 victory at home against Flushing, another Class A school. In a 66-50 victory over Corunna on Jan. 24 Beecher missed 15 free throws.  

There are times when Beecher does shoot well from the line. In a 63-54 victory over Flint Hamady on Jan. 6 the Bucs were 18-of-20. These numbers are troublesome for Williams.

“It’s a lack of focus,” he said.

One phase Williams can count on is the play of senior Malik Ellison. The 5-9 guard is averaging 25 points and prior to Monday’s 70-45 victory over Flushing Ellison had scored 30 or more points in four of Beecher’s last five games.

“He’s on a tear,” Williams said. “He played point for me the first three years and because we have others who can handle the ball we’re able to move him to the two guard at times.

“It’s his toughness that I like. He plays on both ends of the floor.”

Ellison is uncommitted but Williams said the University of Detroit is taking a close look, as are some Division II schools. It’s also possible, according to Williams that Ellison will decide to play football. He’s a receiver and schools such as Ferris State are recruiting Ellison for football.

Williams said once Ellison commits to one sport what school he chooses will become clearer.

Looking ahead to the tournament, Beecher will open district play against Hamady (8-5) at Hamady. Last season Beecher also opened up tournament play against Hamady. Beecher trailed by six points in the fourth quarter before coming back to win, 68-62.

Williams knows his team must play at a high level, and dare we say shoot well from the free throw line, to get past Hamady a third time this season.