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BOYS BASKETBALL: Their late coach inspires Consortium to capture their first Class C state title

By: Branden Hunter, March 22, 2014, 11:00 pm

EAST LANSING – Who would have thought that Detroit Consortium could be allowed to play with six players for the entire season. Their starting line-up goes, Ronald Booth, Malik Dawson, Josh Jackson, Rudy Smith, Kenneth Turner and Al Anderson. 

Anderson is their former head coach who passed away suddenly last season. The Cougars dedicated this season to him and rewarded him with a 61-44 win over Pewama-Westphaila in the Class C state title game on Saturday.

"It hurt really bad," sophomore Josh Jackson said. "We wanted to sit, sob, and cry about it, but at the end of the day we knew that what he wanted for us to do was to win a state championship more than anything."

So that was something that we had to do."

It’s the Cougars first state title in school history after coming so close that couples of years. They also became the first team from the city of Detroit to win it all since Pershing did it in 2009.

Consortium (25-2) jumped out to a 21-10 ten lead after one and looked like it would cruise to a win. Senior Rudy Smith obviously didn’t want to have his final game come as a loss, hitting two 3-pointers in the quarter and finishing with 14.

"Coach told us before the game it was going to come down to rebounding, free throws and playing defense," he said. "So we were able to do that in the first quarter to get the lead up and force them to turn the ball over."

Although they were down 11 early, Pewamo-Westphaila never quit and staged their comeback in the second quarter. Senior Lane Simon and Nick Splitzley did a lot of damage in a short span when Jackson was on the bench with two fouls.

Simon hit a 3-pointer to make it 21-15 with 6:36 left in the half. It was Splitzley’s turn next, converting a wide open lay-up attempt to cut the lead to 21-17. Simon then capped the 10-0 run off with two free throws, to make it 21-20 with 3:53 left on the clock.

"We just wanted to keep playing hard," Simon said. "We wanted to win this game really bad, but they were a really good team, so give credit to them."

The game remained close at halftime, but just like he had done in the quarterfinals against Mt.Clemens, Jackson took over the third quarter, scoring nine of his team-high 22 points and 14 rebounds. The cherry on top came when the Pirates tried to deny Jackson the ball and he got it anyways, ran to the top of the key and banged in a 3-pointer to give them the 48-37 lead.

"Josh is a great player and he can really hurt you in multiples ways," said head coach Tobias Tuomi. "The entire team came out and played a terrific second half. I told them to cherish the moment and we came here to win a state championship."

Pewamo-Westphalia (23-3) head coach Luke Pohl compared Josh Jackson to former Michigan State star Magic Johnson, with all the things he is able to do at his size. It’s yet to be seen if he will develop into that type of player, but now he is the best the state has to offer. 

He is really talented," Pohl said. "He might be the most talented person our teams have ever played."

Jackson probably could have gone anywhere he wanted to play his high school ball, but he wanted to be at Consortium. This win has certainly put the program on the map and has given them a lift, after so many years of trying to get over the hump.

"When I was in eighth-grade, I watched Consortium come up short every year, but they had the talent," Jackson said. "I told my myself when I get in high school I was going to win one for us."

Consortium had Pewamo-Westphalia down 14 with 6:41 to go, but the Pirates just refused to lay down. Simon cut it to within nine at, 51-42, with two of his game-high 24 points. But Consortium put the nail in the coffin with a 10-2 run to close the game, capped off by a lay-up from senior Malik Dawson from Jackson.

Dawson finished with 5 points, while Ronald Booth added 14. 

"I appreciate of all their work, from the seniors to the sophomores," Tuomi said. "It’s a heck on a opportunity to be here. We came to win a state championship and I want to tell my guys thank you."

We have a really solid foundation and next year it’s going to be next man up."

Consortium will certainly be a team to reckon with for years to come, with Tuomi at the helm, Jackson dominating the court and "Coach Al" looking down on them.