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Late free throws from White-Owens lead River Rouge to first regional title since 2002

By: Jeff Dullack, March 16, 2016, 9:07 pm

Dundee – With his team tied with Onsted tied at 44-44 with less than five minutes left to play, River Rouge coach Lamonta Stone made the decision for his team to try and hold the ball for the final shot.

Stone wanted the ball in the hands of his point guard, Darian White-Owens for the final shot.

While Onsted didn’t allow River Rouge to hold the ball for the final shot, White-Owens delivered in the clutch for the Panthers.

White-Owens knocked down all four of his free throw attempts in the final 40 seconds of Wednesday night’s Class B regional final at Dundee high school to give the Panthers a 49-44 win to advance to the Class B quarterfinals next week.

The junior point guard said that with his team playing in the regional final for the first time since 2004, he wanted to help lead the Panthers to their first Class B quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

“The whole city came out to watch us,” he said. “We haven’t been this far in the last couple of years, so I wanted to leave a legacy, keep it (the season) going and make my free throws.”

Stone said that the decision to hold the ball down the stretch was based on the confidence he had in his point guard and felt that holding for a last shot gave his team the best chance to win.

“I figured that at some point, they couldn’t chase us around, we’re just too quick and Darian is just that good of a ball handler to chase around,” he said. “So they were going to either chase us and start fouling us or we were going to take the last shot. I was trying to put us in a situation where we weren’t going to lose the game.”

Onsted (23-1) came out of halftime with a 28-23 lead and watched its lead grow to as large as eight, 38-30 after an Austin Davis dunk, but  River Rouge (22-3) managed to cut the deficit down to just two, 40-38 at the end of the third quarter after a basket from White-Owens.

Davis, who is signed with Michigan, scored all 12 of Onsted’s points in the third quarter and finished the game with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the loss for the Wildcats.

Davis, who recorded 46 points in a win over Grosse Ile in the regional semifinal, noted that while he was limited to just five points in the first half, he was able to find more success in the third quarter.

“They were definitely very strong,” Davis said. “They were pulling their double teams from some very strategic places, so earlier, we probably should have looked to pass out of it more. We found that in the second half and it seemed to work, but earlier it was tough.”

Stone said that defending Davis was a focal point for his team’s game plan going into Wednesday.

“I told our guys he’s going to score,” he said. “He’s a very good player, probably one of the best we’ve seen in the two years that I’ve been back here at Rouge. I told our guys he’s going to score and he may score a lot, but we can’t get discouraged when he scores, I told them that if he scores 50 and we win the game 51-50, I’m happy. Our game plan was to keep two and a half people on him, we were going to front him, we were going to play behind him and we’re going to play on the side of him.

“I give these young guys credit, they’re 15, 16, 17 years, we only have two seniors and these guys carried out the game plan better than some of the college teams I’ve coached.”

In the fourth quarter, River Rouge’s Kaleb Maddox and Dorian Watson would knock down shots early in the period to tie the game at 42-42.

After Onsted’s Skyler Lipinski put Onsted ahead, River Rouge answered with a Dalen Parker basket to tie the game back up at 44-44, setting up the late free throws to seal the win.

White-Owens finished with a game-high 25 points to lead the way for River Rouge.