D3 FINALS: Keyon Menifield Jr. outduels Iron Mountain’s Foster Wonders, as Beecher collects sixth title since 2012
EAST LANSING — It’s probably fitting that one of the best careers in the history of the Upper Peninsula came to an end against one of the most storied boys basketball programs in the history of the state.
It’s certainly fitting that the only team to stop Foster Wonders this year was the one that denied him the title to cap his career.
Led by a Mr. Basketball-esque performance from Keyon Menifield Jr., Beecher won its ninth title overall — and sixth since 2012 — with a dominating 75-47 win in the Division 3 championship game Saturday at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
It was in large part predicated on a defensive stifling of the 6-foot-5 Wonders.
A Mr. Basketball finalist, the senior didn’t score in the game until 2:35 remained in the third quarter, finishing his 2,000-plus point career with 13 points.
Menifield Jr. scored 37 points in the game, which ranks 13th on the MHSAA’s list of all-time best finals performances.
His best game?
“Maybe,” Menifield Jr. said with a grin, after thinking about it for a second, later admitting that perhaps the matchup with Wonders was a motivation, since he felt he, too, should’ve been a Mr. Basketball finalist.
Menifield Jr. had a personal 8-0 run late in the first quarter, as part of a 13-0 team run that allowed the Buccaneers (16-1) to pull away, leading 16-8 after one quarter, 38-19 at the half, and 62-31 headed to the fourth. He shot 63 percent (17-for-27) from the floor, as the Bucs shot 85 percent in the third quarter (11-for-13) and 62 percent for the game (33-for-53).
Carmello Harris added 16 points for Beecher, while James Cummings II had eight.
Jurgen Kleiman had 12 points and eight rebounds for Iron Mountain, while Dante Basanese had 11 points.
For Beecher coach Mike Williams, who lost his father to COVID almost a year ago to the day, this season was a welcome distraction for his grieving heart. Menifield Jr. also lost his grandfather to the virus a year ago.
Beecher has now won titles in 1976, 1985, 1987, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2021, the Bucs’ nine crowns tying them for the second most in state history with Detroit Country Day, Flint Northern and Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Only River Rouge (14) has more.