BOYS BASKETBALL: Milan nabs state crown in Class B, Southfield Christian 3-peats in Class D
Class B: Milan 78, Benton Harbor 59
EAST LANSING – The Big Reds’ tenacious twosome of juniors, Latin Davis and Nick Perkins, were at the peak of their games in the state finals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing Saturday, teaming to take Milan to its first state title on the hardwood since the Truman administration (Class C crown in 1948).
One was Mr. Inside (Perkins) and one was Mr. Outside (Davis) and it was pretty obvious which one was which.
Davis shined bright from downtown, draining 7-of-7 from beyond the arc, netting a career-high 34 points. His two straight 3-balls to open the third quarter ballooned an eight-point Milan lead (43-35) at the break into double-digits to stay.
Perkins patrolled the post with spirited vigor and an intimidating demeanor, sheeting a hard-fought double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds.
“Our big players played big,” Big Reds head coach John Tropea said. “We got up and down the floor and played at the speed we wanted to get the game at. Defensively, we made a decision to get after it early and set the tone.”
Milan dropped the curtain on its season with a 25-3 overall record.
Benton Harbor (17-10) was paced by Johnny Robinson’s team-high 19 points.
Class D: Southfield Christian 63, Adrian Lenawee Christian 61
EAST LANSING – Their dreams of pocketing yet another ring disolving rapidly before its very eyes, Southfield Christian roared off the ropes in the final three and a half minutes to grab the program’s third consecutive state title Saturday in East Lansing at the Breslin Center.
Trailing 55-51, role players, Kam Garner (sixth-man, small forward) and Jalen Bouldes (back-up point guard) propelled their Eagles club into an advantage on the scoreboard it wouldn’t look back from.
Garner, who had fearlessly returned to the game after a brutal first-half crash to the floor, scored on a drive into the center of the paint to pull Southfield Christian to within a bucket behind at 55-53 and then Bouldes recorded a three-point play on a similar move to push the Eagles in front 56-55 with 3:08 left.
Bouldes was subbing for starting shooting guard Lindsey Hunter IV (16 points), lost to a foul-disqualification midway through the fourth quarter. Both Bouldes and Garner started for the Eagles at certain points this season.
The fact that Garner made it back on the court after what looked to be a game-ending injury motivated and inspired his coach and teammates.
“Man, is that kid tough or what?,” exclaimed interim Southfield Christian head coach Clennie Brundidge regarding Garner’s heroic return. “He’s our heart and soul. Seeing what he did, I was almost in tears.”
In the fall, Garner was an all-state selection on the football field, collecting 11 interceptions and 10 touchdown grabs.
Junior all-state point guard Bakari Evelyn clinched the game for the Eagles’ cage crew Saturday, scoring 16 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, including five contest-securing free throws and numerous critical plays on both ends of the floor.
The road to the three-peat for Southfield Christian was a bit bumpy.
Earlier this season, Evelyn left the team (internal issues). Missing more than a month of the schedule, he was reinstated in February.
Brundidge, an assistant last season, was tapped as the team’s interim sideline general in the fall, when Josh Baker, the coach of the past two Southfield Christian state-title squads, was forced to take a leave due to family health concerns.
“These guys (his team) have iron wills,” Brundidge said. “They wanted this (a third straight title) and they weren’t going to let anything get in their way. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen every day (a three-peat), that’s why it’s so special. They’re going to be remembered.”
Southfield Christian finished the season 27-1, beating four Class A teams by double-figures and not losing to a Class D team the entire winter.
Lenawee Christian closed its campaign with a 22-5 record. The Cougars’ scorebook was fueled by seniors Grant Hohlbein (16 points, 6 assists) and Kingsley, an African transfer with a lone moniker, (22 points, 8 rebounds).