BOYS BASKETBALL: High-scoring Southfield Christian flirts with century mark, mashes Frankfort in semis to keep dream of 3-peat alive
EAST LANSING – Over the course of the past two seasons, Southfield Christian has made the Breslin Center its second home as the Eagles have cruised to two straight Class D state championships.
And on Thursday night, Southfield Christian made themselves feel right at home again.
Jumping out to 25-11 halftime lead, the Eagles saw that lead grow to over 30 points at halftime as Southfield Christian rolled its way to a more-than-convincing 97-68 win over Frankfort in the Class D semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The 97 points posted by Southfield Christian was an MHSAA record for the semifinal round of the state tournament.
The Eagles will now set their sights on claiming a third straight state championship as they will take on Adrian Lenawee Christian on Saturday morning back.
Southfield Christian interim head coach Clennie Brundidge said that after the Eagles struggled starting recent games, falling into first-quarter holes to Allen Park Inter-City Baptist and Peck, he felt his team bought into the game plan and credited his club’s trademark pressure defense for getting to Frankfort early and often on Thursday.
“It was just the kids being into the game plan,” he said. “After the Peck game (in the quarterfinals) we went over some of the mistakes that we were having and they bought into it and we knew that they (Frankfort) were not a great dribbling team and that our pressure could wear them down. I didn’t realize that it would be that detrimental to them, I thought they would do some of the things we saw them do on tape against Sacred Heart, so we focused on shutting off some of their passes.”
The Eagles imposed their will early and often on Thursday as they saw an 8-7 first quarter lead become a 25-11 lead after a Bakari Evelyn triple ended the first quarter scoring.
The second quarter didn’t get any better for Frankfort as the Eagles used an 18-0 run, highlighted by nine straight points from Lindsey Hunter IV, who hit two 3-pointers and added another 3-point play and after a Marlo Brown bucket followed by another from Hunter, Southfield Christian (25-1) held a commanding 45-16 lead with under three minutes left in the first half.
Evelyn said that with Southfield Christian getting out to somewhat sluggish starts in recent games, he and his teammates came out playing aggressive and attacking, trying to get out to a good start in Thursday’s game.
“Our coaches, coach Hart and coach Brundidge just told everyone to be aggressive,” he said. “So we came out with an attacking mentality and we had been watching film so we could see that we could easily score points to help our team win, so I tried to come out and get us a good start because we’ve had some slow starts in the beginning and those are things we didn’t want to have going into the final four.”
Hunter finished with a team-high 21 points, 19 coming in the first half, while Evelyn added in 17 more in a balanced attack for the Eagles that saw each of the 15 players on the roster score at least one point in the win.
Scorching hot in the first half, Hunter was hitting from everywhere on the court and said that his heated shooting effort has been with him all playoffs long, something that he even seems a bit surprising to him.
“It’s been like that all playoffs,” said Hunter with a wide smile. “I don’t know what’s going on, all of a sudden it’s just swishes for me.”
Southfield Christian’s quest for a 3-peat will now go through Lenawee Christian, which will pose an interesting challenge for the Eagles as it has three players that stand 6-foot-7 or taller, but the Eagles will look to continue to do what they’ve done all postseason long, which is to cement their legacy as one of the top teams in MHSAA history in Class D.
“I think they’ve handled it well,” said Brundidge. “I think this is what we’ve been looking for, all of that other stuff was just leading up to it and we knew that this is what we really wanted. To establish a legacy and the kids so far have embraced it.”