Flint Beecher outlasts Calvin Christian for fourth title in five years
East Lansing – Throughout the entire postseason, nothing came easy for Flint Beecher as the Bucs needed three comeback wins, including a buzzer beater in the semifinal to advance to the Class C final.
Saturday’s state championship game against Grandville Calvin Christian wasn’t any different for Beecher as the Bucs needed a late defensive stop in order to win their second straight state title.
It was Levane Blake’s block in the closing seconds that would preserve a 63-61 win for Beecher as it claimed its fourth Class C state championship in five years.
Blake said that going for the blocked shot late was something he obviously had to do, but did admit to being nervous about a potential foul being called.
“It was at the end and I just knew I had to get the block to get the win,” he said. “But I was scared when I went and blocked it, I thought the ref was going to call the foul, but I just knew I had to go for it.”
Late in the game Calvin Christian’s Blake Verbeek tied the game at 55-55 on his fifth 3-pointer of the game with just 2:30 left to play, helping the Squires erase a seven point deficit they faced earlier in the fourth quarter.
But Beecher’s Jordan Roland answered right back, just 20 seconds later, burying a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Bucs the lead right back.
Beecher (25-2) coach Mike Williams said that it was crucial for his team to keep answering Calvin Christian down the stretch to keep his team out in front.
“It was very important and the thing that we talked about was if they (Calvin Christian) do score, then let’s push it back up the court and push it right back at them,” he said. “After Thursday, my attitude was that we didn’t have anything to lose, we took the best shot that we were going to take to be eliminated. I woke up this morning feeling so positive, I never had a nervous tension or feeling of anxiety, I just felt like we were ready.
“When we get in situations like that, we just show confidence in our players and we continue doing the things that we’re doing. When Jordan got the ball, I was confident he was going to make it and if he didn’t, we were going to get back on defense and get a stop.
Roland said he was ready when senior Aquavius Burks was driving the ball to the basket, knowing he was wide open in the corner.
“When Quay (Burks) drove to the basket, he’s always going to kick, because he’s a team player,” he said. “I just had my feet set and ready to shoot.”
Malik Ellison, who hit the game-winner in the semifinal, scored 21 points to lead Beecher on Saturday and Burks added in 15 points in the win.
Calvin Christian (21-5) would take a brief lead with just over a minute left to play when Tony DeWitte converted a 3-point play that put the Squires on top, 61-60.
Vanderbeek scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Calvin Christian. DeWitte added 15 points as well for the Squires.
But Beecher again had an answer as Blake would hit a layup while being fouled with 55 seconds left to give the Bucs the lead back and knocked down a free throw with 15.3 left to play to push the lead to 63-61.