• Michigan

Maddox beats the buzzer again to lead Novi past Belleville and into Class A semifinals for first time

By: Jeff Dullack, March 20, 2018, 11:00 pm

(PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Donoher)

Detroit – Throughout the postseason, Novi has had its fair share of dramatic moments as the Wildcats had won two games in the final seconds and both games had one thing in common.

The ball was in Traveon Maddox, Jr.’s hands in the closing seconds.

The first was in a district semifinal game against Canton and Maddox’s last-second shot would not fall but the ball was tipped in by Tariq Woody to give Novi a 60-58 win. The second was in last Wednesday’s regional final when Maddox hit a floater with less than three seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 61-59 victory over top-ranked Ann Arbor Skyline and their first regional title.

On Tuesday in the Class A quarterfinal against Belleville at Calihan Hall, Novi again found itself in a tie game in the final seconds and once again turned to its senior star.

Maddox took a handoff from senior point guard Trendon Hankerson, drove in the lane and floated the ball over a Belleville defender’s hand and into the net as time expired to give Novi a 75-73 win, sending the Wildcats to the Class A semifinals.

Maddox, who signed with Oakland, said that the play didn’t go as planned as the play was well defended by Belleville’s Davion Williams, a Michigan State football signee. Maddox was able to work his way back around and into the paint to put up the game-winner.

“It was supposed to be a backdoor,” he said. “Davion Williams is a great DB and the back door didn’t work so I came around a screen that Trendon Hankerson set for me and I gave an up-fake and shot the floater and it was good.”

“This is a great feeling, I’ve never felt like this before,” Williams added. “Making that shot right there tops all of my shots, ever. I don’t even know right now, I’m at a loss for words.”

Novi (17-8) will play Holland West Ottawa (24-2), which defeated East Lansing, 58-55 in its quarterfinal, on Friday at 2 p.m. at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Novi coach Brandon Sinawi joked that his team’s dramatic finishes have obviously been stressful throughout the playoffs, but praised his star senior for stepping up in big moments for his team all season.

“Yeah, he is, there’s a couple of heart attacks that I’m getting ready to have,” he said. “But for him to do it again and tonight in dramatic fashion, because really, there was no time left on the clock, so it was easier for us to not have a defense to draw up. He’s a special player. I mentioned before, he makes big-time plays in big-time games and he’s a big-time player. Like I mentioned before, he’s a Division 1 player that’s going to do a lot of great things at the next level, but he’s not ready to be done playing high school basketball and he proved it tonight.”

Trailing, 36-31, Novi opened up the second half on a 16-8 run behind six points from Hankerson to take a 47-44 lead.

After Novi’s lead would grow to six, Belleville would cut the deficit back down to three heading to the fourth quarter after a Gabe Brown 3-pointer to end the third quarter and a Daniel Alverson dunk to open the fourth would cut the deficit to just one, 57-56.

Brown led the way for Belleville with 17 points, Williams finished with 16 points and Alverson chipped in with 14.

Later in the quarter, Novi would use a pair of Hankerson free throws and a Jiovanni Miles basket to get a little extra breathing room and extend the lead to 73-66.

Hankerson paced Novi with 24 points, Maddox added in 22 points and Miles contributed 16 points.

But Belleville had one final push as the Tigers erased that 7-point deficit in just over a minute as Williams buried a 3-pointer to cut Novi’s lead to 73-69 and after a pair of Kaevon Merriweather free throws, Williams would tie the game with a floater off glass to tie the game at 73-73 with just 19 seconds left to play. But Novi would survive behind Maddox’s 3-pointer.

Maddox said that the fact he’s practiced potential game-winners countless times in practice during his time at Novi gave him more than enough confidence to come through for his teammates once again on Tuesday.

“We practice every day and we scrimmage every day,” he said. “In all of our scrimmages, I always shoot the last shot because my team believes in me. So it was just like practice again, another floater.”­­