Maddox’s late basket lifts Novi past top ranked Skyline in regional final
Plymouth – In the closing minutes of Wednesday night’s regional final against top ranked Ann Arbor Skyline, Novi senior guard Traveon Maddox told his head coach Brandon Sinawi that he wouldn’t let his team fall short of winning the school’s first ever regional title.
And in the closing seconds, the Oakland University signee proved to be a man of his word.
After Skyline senior Brandon Wade connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 59-59 with 1:05 left to play, Novi held the ball for the final shot and put the ball in the hands of their star senior with time winding down.
Maddox drove to the basket and put up a floater that went off the backboard and in to give the Wildcats a two-point lead with just 2.8 seconds left to play and a half-court shot at the buzzer would go wide for Skyline, giving Novi a 61-59 win for its first regional title.
“I knew this was my shot,” Maddox said. “I shoot all of the last shots in practice and I told coach this is mine right now, I’m going to get it.”
Sinawi said that the final play was drawn up similarly to Novi’s last second shot to beat Canton in the district final, when senior Tariq Woody beat the buzzer with a tip in, but Maddox was able to create for himself on the drive.
“We definitely wanted the last shot, we didn’t want to give them an opportunity,” he said. “We thought back to the Canton game in terms of a high screen-and-roll for Tra to see if he could get to the basket and he didn’t even need to use the high screen-and-roll, he was able to get by and get to the basket and finish. He’s a special player and he told me at our last timeout that there was no way he was going to let us lose – he said that before he came through tonight and I’m very, very proud of him.”
Novi now advances to the Class A quarterfinals, where the Wildcats will face Belleville, which defeated Wayne Memorial on Wednesday night.
After coming out of halftime with a 33-25 lead, Novi would build its lead to as many as 10 points in the third quarter after a lay-in by Giovanni Miles with 3:14 left and a basket from Maddox with under three left to give the Wildcats a 45-35 lead
But Skyline would close out the third quarter on a 9-2 run behind a pair of 3-pointers from Duquesne signee Brandon Wade and another triple from his younger brother, Ryan Wade to cut the deficit down to 47-44 heading into the fourth quarter.
Skyline head coach Keith Wade praised his team’s season where the Eagles reached new heights which included a 23-0 record entering Wednesday and also said he was proud of the way his team battled back while trailing for the vast majority of the second half.
“Unbelievable, I would say unexpected, but it was expected, obviously, you never expect to go undefeated,” he said. “We set some high goals and kind of knew with the squad that we had coming back that we’d be able to make a run and those kids worked so hard and gave it their all. You saw tonight, they fought down to the last buzzer, they fought hard and they fought back and I’m so proud of them.”
Brandon Wade paced Skyline with 17 points on the night, while Ryan Wade added in 14 points Jack Ammerman poured in 11 points in the loss for Skyline (23-1).
Novi would again pull away early on in the third quarter as the Wildcats would rattle off six straight points, with four points coming from Miles in that stretch to take a 57-49 lead with 4:46 left to play.
But Skyline would again battle back as baskets from DeSean Munson, Brandon Wade and Ryan Wade would pull the Eagles to within striking distance before Brandon Wade’s game-tying 3-pointer and Maddox’s game winter.
Woody led the way for Novi (18-6) with a team-high 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Trendon Hankerson and Maddox each added in 13 and Miles finished with 12 for the Wildcats.
After beginning the season with a disappointing 1-5 record, Novi has since won 15 of its last 18 games. Sinawi said that while the start of the year was underwhelming, he and his team believed that a regional title and a spot in the quarterfinal was a possibility all along.
“We knew it was a possibility over the summer,” he said. “We told the guys that it’s never how you start, it’s how you finish. We had some injuries, we had to sit out a transfer but we kept working and these guys never quit, even when we were sitting at 1-5. They knew that the end was going to be what we wanted it to be and tonight they proved it. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team and nobody picked us to come out of our region, nobody, and we love that. So our kids used that little chip on their shoulder and showed everybody that we’re one of the top teams – now, we still have work to do, but we’re excited to be going there for the first time in our school’s history.”