BOYS BASKETBALL: Jackson & Consortium waltz into state title-tilt with upending of Negaunee
EAST LANSING – While it took Detroit Consortium a little while to get going on Thursday afternoon, once it got going, there was little that could stop the Cougars as they looked to advance to the Class C state final game.
After holding just a one point lead after the first quarter, Consortium went on to outscore Negaunee by 13 in the second quarter and never looked back as the Cougars rolled their way to a convincing 69-54 win.
Consortium (24-2) will face Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday afternoon in the Class C championship game at the Breslin Center at Michigan State.
Consortium head coach Tobias Tuomi said that he felt his team really pushed the tempo of the game in the second quarter and the rest of the game after a sluggish first quarter, which proved to be the difference.
“It was really picking up the pace,” he said. “In the first quarter, we were playing a little bit slow, and offensively and defensively, we weren’t being as decisive as we needed to be. We just told these guys at the beginning of the second quarter that they just needed to pick up the pace and they picked up the pace and got some easy baskets, forced some turnovers and most importantly, I thought we finished our shots where in the first quarter, I thought we missed some.”
Leading 12-11 after one quarter of play, the Cougars immediately came out putting the pressure on Negaunee and pushing the pace of the game and wasted little time extending their lead to 32-18 by halftime double digits behind 10 first half points from senior Rudy Smith.
With Consortium coming off of an emotional win over Mt. Clemens on Tuesday in a game that some regarded to be a de-facto state championship game of sorts, a big question for the Cougars was how they would respond and be ready for Thursday’s game, something that Smith said was a bit difficult, but he and his teammates refocused during Wednesday’s practice and were well-prepared for Thursday.
“It was difficult,” he said. “But we’ve just been trying to rest up and save our legs and just make sure that we did what we needed to do in practice.”
In the second half, Consortium saw its lead grow to as large as 16 points, but Negaunee, with the help of 12 second half points from Tyler Jandron, stayed within striking distance during the third and fourth quarters, not allowing Consortium to walk away with the win.
Consortium used a balance attack to pull out the win as Smith finished with a game-high 22 points, while Luster Johnson contributed 20 more and Josh Jackson added in 18 more points and seven rebounds in the win.
“It’s kind of been like that all year,” Tuomi said of his team’s deep roster and ability to score. “Josh is certainly going to be one of our leading scorers, but we have seven or eight really talented guys who have been playing all year and I think all of them have been a leading scorer, so it’s something that we expect and Luster and Rudy did a good job today and got a lot of shots at the rim, getting layups.”
For the Cougars, while beating Mt. Clemens and now Negaunee are big wins for them, their eyes are still set on finishing the deal on Saturday afternoon when they look to finally pick up an elusive state championship.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, because I’ve never been this far in my career,” Johnson said. “This is my second year as a sophomore, but this feels like it’s my senior year, I just really want to win that bad.”