Magee’s game-winner lifts Dakota past Clarkston, into regional final
Macomb – All eyes were on Macomb Dakota’s standouts, star point guard Jermaine Jackson, Jr., and forward Thomas Kithier, but it was Chris Magee and Chris Marshall who stole the show for the Cougars in the closing seconds of Monday’s Class A regional semifinal against Clarkston at Dakota.
Less than 10 seconds remained in the second overtime when Marshall found Magee cutting to the basket. Magee took the pass and laid it in to give Dakota a thrilling 68-66 win over Clarkston to advance to Wednesday’s regional final against Rochester Adams (18-5) at 6 p.m.
Dakota coach Paul Tocco said that in situations like that he wants the ball in the hands of Jackson or Kithier. Defensively Clarkston took those options and forced the ball into the hands of Marshall and Magee, and they capitalized.
“Anytime with the game on the line, we want the ball in Jermaine or Thomas’ hands and we want to screen and roll,” he said. “We said that if we get jumped, find the open guy and attack the rim, (Chris) Marshall made a great pass to Chris Magee. We wanted the ball in Jermaine’s hands, but we’re unselfish and we won the game on that play, obviously.”
Magee said that he saw Clarkston start pressuring Marshall with the ball in his hands and that’s when he started cutting to the basket, hoping Marshall would be able to find him.
"I knew Chris had the ball in his hands and I knew (the Wolves) were going to attack, so I saw Chris push the ball into the middle,” he said. “He was looking for his shot, but I was right there at the basket and he saw me and thank God, he passed it to me.”
After Mitch Heaton’s basket for Clarkston with under 50 seconds left to play in regulation tied the game at 47-47 to force overtime, Clarkston opened the first overtime period with four points in the first 25 seconds to take a 51-47 lead.
After Dakota (24-0) recovered and eventually took a 57-55 lead after a basket from Jackson, Clarkston would regain the lead after a basket from C.J. Robinson and two free throws from Foster Loyer to make it 59-57, but Kithier would force a second overtime with a basket of his own with 24 seconds to go to tie the game at 59-59.
Loyer made all 11 of his free throw attempts and led Clarkston with 27 points.
“That was a heck of a ballgame,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “We didn’t have a good shooting night and there were a lot of goofy things that game. It was just two teams playing their butts off and goofy things happened, but we just kept fighting back and they just back cut us for a layup.”
With Clarkston (20-2) taking a 64-63 lead with under 80 seconds left to play in the second overtime on a Dylan Alderson basket, Jackson drilled a deep 3-pointer from 25-feet away to give the Cougars the lead right back with 1:10 left to play.
Jackson finished with a team-high 25 points, 21 coming in the second half and 10 in the third quarter. Kithier chipped in with 20 points as well for Dakota.
Tocco said that when Jackson knocked down that 3-pointer, he had a feeling his team was going to pull out the win and credited Jackson and Kithier for stepping up when their team needed them most.
“The greatest thing about Jermaine is he’s a killer man, he wants the ball in his hands when the game’s on the line,” he said. “When he pulled up from about 25 (feet) and knocked that down, I knew we were going to win the game, because he wants the ball in his hands. I give a lot of credit to Thomas (Kithier) too, because when we needed him, every time we threw it into the big boy, and he made free throws for us and that was huge.”
Jackson said throughout the game, he and his teammates and coaches continued to give him confidence throughout the game, including on his go-ahead 3-pointer.
“We just had a do or die mentality,” he said. “My teammates kept giving me confidence, my coaching staff kept giving me confidence to keep shooting the ball and I did what I do best.”
Loyer would knock down two more free throws for Clarkston with over a minute left to tie the game again at 66-66, but the Cougars were able to seal the win on Magee’s basket with six seconds left to play.
“We just wanted to finish,” said Magee. “We don’t want our season to end short, we all want a ring, that’s one goal that we’ve got for this year. We just fought.”