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D1 FINALS: Grand Blanc changes the culture, becoming a hoops town after beating Huron for first-ever title

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, April 10, 2021, 3:11 pm

EAST LANSING — Grand Blanc is basketball town now. 

Rather than just a mention as the home of a famous golf tournament and course, or a football haven, the city at the junction of US-23 and I-75 can now be rightfully labeled a basketball town, after the Bobcats — who won their first regional since 1953 a week earlier — captured the school’s first-ever hoops state title with a 45-36 win over Ann Arbor Huron. 

Grand Blanc’s only other appearance in the finals came in 1952, when the Bobcats lost to the now-defunct Detroit St. Andrew, 48-31.

“You heard him, ‘Win another one,’” junior Ty Rodgers said of the plan going forward, echoing what coach Mike Thomas blurted out when the question was asked.

The Bobcats (15-2) graduate just three players from this year’s squad.  

It was the first loss on the court for Huron (20-1) since falling to Ann Arbor Skyline on Feb. 14, 2020. The River Rats won their final seven of last year — and were set to face defending Division 1 champion Ypsilanti Lincoln in the district finals before the season was canceled by COVID-19 — and their first 20 this season. 

It was a game in which the lead changed eight times, with eight ties, but had the River Rats score just one bucket in the final 5:06 of play. Huron led 34-32 after Devin Womack’s layup just under three minutes into the fourth quarter, but wouldn’t score again until Womack made a layup with 50 seconds remaining, and the River Rats down seven.

That 9-0 run started with a 3-pointer by Josh Rechsteiner to give Grand Blanc the lead for good with 4:38 left, extended by three free throws by Timonte Boyd and one by Ty Rodgers, then pushed to seven when sophomore Amonte Allen-Johnson beat everyone downcourt for a loose ball to lay it in for a seven-point lead, 41-34, with one minute remaining. Allen-Johnson hit three of four free throws over the final minute, and RJ Taylor split a pair to finish out the scoring. 

The Huron defense held Grand Blanc to roughly half its normal scoring average, but was hampered when seniors Brandon Rawls — who’d been guarding Rodgers head-to-head — and Julian Lewis were limited to 25 minutes by second-half foul trouble.

Womack picked up the scoring slack with a game-high 18, while Kingsley Perkins had 14 rebounds to help Huron to a 39-33 advantage on the boards. 

Taylor led Grand Blanc with 15 points, Boyd had 12 and Rodgers nine points and seven rebounds.