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D1 SEMIS: Ty Rodgers’ double-double helps lead Grand Blanc past Forest Hills Northern, on to first title game since 1952

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, April 8, 2021, 8:03 pm

EAST LANSING — Ty Rodgers certainly didn’t think about the fact that he was emulating his uncle, Jason Richardson, flying through the air at Michigan State’s Breslin Center, throwing down dunks. 

Once he thought about it, he grinned behind his mask.

“Oh, man. I hadn’t even thought about that. Now that you mention it, it’s kind of funny. Just being out there, getting a couple of dunks, kinda made me feel like I was him,” the 6-foot-6 Grand Blanc junior said. 

“You looked like him,” Bobcats coach Mike Thomas muttered under his breath. 

Grand Rapids Forest Hills hit 13 times from behind the 3-point arc, and gave the Bobcats a run, but they just didn’t have anybody to match up with Rodgers, who had a double-double — 19 points and 12 rebounds —  in the 68-58 victory in Thursday’s Division 1 semifinal. 

Richardson led Saginaw Arthur Hill to the Class A title game in 1999, his final season of a McDonald’s All-American prep career, before going on to Michigan State, where he helped the Spartans win a NCAA title in 2000. 

Rodgers has a chance to do something his uncle didn’t with one more win, though. 

Then again, Rodgers can do something Saturday that no other Grand Blanc player has, as well: Lead the Bobcats to a basketball state title. 

Grand Blanc made the semis in 1926, then three straight years from 1951-53, losing in the title game in 1952 to Detroit St. Andrew. 

The Bobcats (13-2) will face Ann Arbor Huron (20-0) in Saturday’s Division 1 title game at 12:30 p.m. It’ll be a reunion of the two coaches: The last time coach Waleed Samaha and the River Rats were in the finals was 2010, when they faced Thomas’ Kalamazoo Central squad. 

Huron beat Warren De La Salle, 55-39, in the other Division 1 semifinal.

Grand Blanc led the Huskies (17-1) by 12 at the break, and pushed it as high as 13 when Rodgers set up a layup by Andre Ridley just 26 seconds in to the second half. 

On the next possession, Rodgers threw down an alley-oop from RJ Taylor, giving the Bobcats a 42-30 lead, but they wouldn’t score again for another 4:45, as Forest Hills Northern went on a 15-0 run to tie it up, and take a three-point lead. 

Trinidad Chambliss’ layup with 3:26 knotted it at 42-42, then Cole Rynbrandt put the Huskies ahead, 45-42, with a 3-pointer. 

A 3-pointer by Amont’e Allen-Johnson with 39 seconds left in the third put the Bobcats back in front, 51-50, for what turned out to be the final time. Grand Blanc scored the first seven points of the fourth, and never looked back, getting the lead as high as double digits again. 

Taylor had 16 points and seven assists to go with Rodgers’ double-double, while Timonte Boyd scored 15 off the bench. Ethan Erickson was 5-for-11 from 3-point range, leading Forest Hills Northern with 19, while Gavin Fisher had 16 and Chambliss 13.