GIRLS BASKETBALL Maplewood Baptist stuns previously unbeaten Rochester Hills Christian in 2OTs for MACS-I state title
BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Hannah May must have ice in her veins.
The sophomore from Kinross Maplewood Baptist calmly sank two free throws with 14 seconds left in the second overtime period, and the Black Bears’ defense made it stand, as they stunned previously unbeaten Rochester Hills Christian, 58-56, Saturday for the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I state championship at Clarkston Springfield Christian High School.
“I knew I could make them,” said May. “I was calm. I knew the Lord was with me.”
May had shot at the end of the first overtime that rimmed out and would have won the game for the Black Bears (19-4). She gained her redemption in the second extra session.
“That one was so close,” said May of the near-miss. “I just wanted to help my team win again. We beat a very good team.”
Maplewood Baptist, which opened its doors just 12 years ago, captured the MACS Division II crown each of the past two years on the same court. The tiny school located north of St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula only has 27 high school students. The Black Bears opted to play up a division for this year’s MACS tournament.
It was more than worth it.
“We’re excited. We felt like we were ready to play up a division. We wanted to face stiffer competition in the tournament this season and we did,” said Maplewood Baptist coach Colleen Rader, the head coach on all three MACS championship teams. “Rochester Hills Christian is a very good team. It took everything we had to beat them.”
Top-ranked Rochester Hills Christian finished the year 19-1, and it took a double overtime to knock off the Eagles from their perch. RHC has reached the Final Four of the MACS-I tournament each of the last four years, including a state title game loss in 2012 to Carson City Fellowship Baptist.
“This one stings because we came so close again. We had an incredible season only to fall a couple of points short,” said RHC coach Paula Bronsing, whose program rose from the depths after not winning a game six years ago. “This was an incredible game —
one of the most (entertaining) games that I have ever coached. I know our girls wanted to win more than anything, but if we are going to go down, this is the way to do it.”
Maplewood Baptist opened the game with a quick 8-2 run and eventually led 21-13 at the end of the first quarter. The Black Bears held their biggest lead at 27-15 with 5:13 left in the second following a layup from May — RHC’s largest deficit of the entire season —
before the Eagles got untracked.
Rochester Hills Christian answered with a 9-1 run to close to within 28-24 and eventually settled for a 32-30 deficit at the half.
Maplewood Baptist, which was ousted in the MHSAA Class D districts by state-ranked Brimley three days earlier, held a three-point advantage at 39-36 through three quarters of play only to see RHC force overtime with an 11-8 fourth period. Rochester Hills Christian junior Courtney Patton’s steal near midcourt and ensuing layup tied the game with 21 seconds left in regulation.
In the first overtime, freshman guard Makayla Smith’s three-pointer with 2:49 left gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 51-49. May tied it at 51-51 with 1:14 off a short-range jumper.
Maplewood Baptist held a 7-5 edge in the decisive second extra overtime.
“We’re thankful to have this chance and excited to win three straight titles. We’re still young with only one senior,” noted Rader. “We hope to be back again next year.”
Rochester Hills Christian went with a six-player rotation throughout regulation and the first overtime. Due to foul trouble and two players fouling out, the Eagles had to bring in three freshmen off the bench late in the game.
“Being in foul trouble hurt. Not only were we fatigued, but we couldn’t play the type of defense that we are accustomed to playing,” said Bronsing. “We had some young girls come in and they did a great job, made a couple nice plays. We just ran out (of steam).”
Junior Jenna Porter scored 18 points with nine rebounds to lead Rochester Hills Christian. Junior forward Ashley Parker compiled her 13th straight double-double with 12 points, 15 rebounds, six blocked shots, three steals and three assists. Patton added four points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals, and Smith scored a career-high 17 for the Eagles.
May twined a game-high 24 points to go along with eight rebounds and five steals to pace Maplewood Baptist. Sophomore forward Harmony Bailey added 12 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks, sophomore guard Ashton Bonnee added 11 points, five rebounds and five steals, junior guard Abigail Lockhart contributed five points and 13 rebounds, while senior Bethany Burton chipped in with six points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for the Black Bears, who held a 55-37 edge on the glass.