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Friday Highlights: Ferndale, St. Mary’s and Lahser Win District Titles

Ferndale boys basketball team beats city rival; Lahser eliminates Groves; St. Mary’s survives in overtime; Clawson falls to Country Day.

* home team in caps unless otherwise noted

FRIDAY

Boys Basketball

Detroit Country Day over Clawson 66-37 (Class B; Warren Lincoln District)

Country Day overwhelmed Clawson (20-3) in the Class B district final at Warren Lincoln on Friday night.

“We would have had to play our absolute best game to be in it,” Trojans coach Bill Shellenbarger said. “They’re big, they’re long. They get to the basket and play really good defense. They were just the better team.”

The Yellowjackets went up early 8-2 and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first half. Shellenbarger hoped his team could keep Country Day within 10 to 12 points going into halftime.

With a minute left in the second, Clawson was right around there. They were down 14 points and had possession of the ball.

“Thought man, if we can going into half down 14 I can really get my guys back in it,” Shellenbarger said. “They ended up getting two steals and two layups to go up 18. It should’ve been a 10 point game at halftime.”

Country Day’s pressure defense was very effective throughout the game. It was able to consistently generate a lot of transition buckets off steals.

The Orchard Lake St. Mary's boys basketball team came back from deficits in the first half, as well as in overtime, to beat Farmington in the No. 25 MHSAA district final Friday night, 42-40.

Sophomore guard Jalen Watts-Jackson hit a jumper from the foul line to tie the game with 46.5 left, and the Eaglets forced a turnover from the game's leading scorer, Farmington's Chris Hare (20), on the ensuing possession.

Senior center Daniel Furlong collected a missed basket and with two seconds left, banked in the winning basket to a roar from the home crowd.

"That's March madness for you," said head coach George Porritt, whose Eaglets await the winner of Friday's game between Ann Arbor Huron and Ann Arbor Pioneer. "(Daniel) is an outstanding kid, going to the University of Notre Dame as a student, and I’m proud of that kid. I’m also very happy he hit that bucket."

The Ferndale boys basketball team is fine with University sharing its gym. It doesn’t mind that they share the same Eagles nickname. But the Ferndale Eagles weren’t going to let its city-rival win a district championship on the teams’ shared home court.

“There name is Ferndale, they are also the Eagles, they even practice and use this as a home gym, but they can’t have our championship,” Ferndale coach Tom Staton said, laughing.

Ferndale senior forward Nate Stepney’s monstrous third quarter powered his team to a 66-52 win on Friday night in the district finals

“We couldn’t let our little brothers come in our house and beat us,” Stepney said. “That wouldn’t be right.”

Stepney came out of halftime and decided he didn’t want his high school career to end just yet.

He went off on University for 16 of his 28 points in the third quarter. During the stretch, he turned a six-point deficit into 49-39 lead.

“I told him at halftime, I hit him in the shoulder real hard, and I said look it’s time for you to take over, do what you’re supposed to do captain,” Staton said.

In the first half, University used a zone defense to keep Stepney and Ferndale’s other shooters in check. Defenders were still getting to the ball in the third quarter, but Stepney just shrugged them off.  He hit two 3-pointers with University players right in his face.  

“We knew he was a great player and if we could keep him under control with our zone, we figured we could win the game,” University coach Andre Buford said. “He did what great players do, he had a hell of a game.”

Lahser over Groves 60-43 (Class A; Seaholm District)

The Lahser boys basketball team has earned itself a day off.

The Knights beat Groves 60-43 on Friday night at Seaholm High School to win their first district championship since 2000.

“We’ve gone 14 straight days (with a game or practice),” Lahser coach Duane Graves said. “It’s tough. We had three games this week, we’ve done it once before, but it isn’t easy.”

On Friday, the long stretch without a rest started to catch up to Graves’ team. The Knights hit a brick wall in the third quarter after they extended a 35-20 halftime-lead to 19 points.

The Falcons hit three 3-pointers and then forced back-to-back turnovers in Lahser’s backcourt. Ross Williams and Emmanuel Thomas each turned steals into layups to cut the lead to 42-32.

An unfortunate injury to Falcons guard Grant Henderson drained any momentum they had and actually helped the Knights catch their breath.

Henderson went up for a layup on the final play of the third with his team down 46-36. As the buzzer sounded, the senior landed awkwardly on his left leg and collapsed to the ground. He suffered a serious injury to his left knee.

Trainers and coaches surrounded Henderson until paramedics arrived. Henderson’s leg was immobilized and he was carted off on a stretcher.

“It’s horrible, doesn’t get any worse than that,” Groves coach Scott Sheckell said.

The injury timeout lasted over 20 minutes and players were given five minutes to warm-up before the fourth quarter started.

“I think that long layover helped us get some rest,” Graves said. “It really helped our starters got some fresh air.”

Knights guard Martez Jones looked particularly sharp in the fourth. With about five minutes left in the game, he had back-to-back fast break layups to extend Lahser’s lead back up to 16 points. 

“In the first half, my shot was off, but the coaches said you’re doing good just play defense,” Jones said. “My confidence was there. In the fourth quarter, the points just came to me. It’s a great feeling.”

Jones scored eight of his team’s 14 points in the quarter.

WEDNESDAY

Boys Basketball

Groves over SEAHOLM, 46-45 (Class A; Seaholm District)

coach Scott Sheckell called Wednesday’s district semifinals game against crosstown rival “spectacular” with as crazy of a finish as he’s ever seen.

With eight seconds left in regulation, Falcons guard Grant Henderson was fouled driving to the basket. He went to the line for two shots where he hit the first free throw to put his team up 46-45. Henderson missed the second and Maples sophomore Paris Bass grabbed the rebound with time running down.

Bass let a couple seconds off the clock before bringing the ball up to halfcourt. With 1.8 seconds left, he launched up a shot that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounds. Fans went wild and rushed the court.

Unfortunately, what many fans in the gym didn’t see was Seaholm coach Jose Andrades signal for a timeout just before Bass shot the ball. Referees were waving off the shot as soon as it left his hands, but all eyes were on Bass.  

“Our whole team thought we lost,” Sheckell said. “It was chaos. At first I thought the referee waving it off thought the shot was after the buzzer, but Bass clearly took his shot with time left so I thought he would get overruled. I wasn’t looking at their coach.”

It took the referees about five minutes to get the court cleared so the teams could finish out the finals seconds. The Maples still had possession of the ball with 1.8 seconds on clock.

Out of the timeout, Seaholm tried to run an inbounds play to Bass, but Groves had him covered. The Maples kicked it out to Spencer Eick, who attempted a second buzzer beater.

“Eick’s shot went right of the front of the rim, it looked good too,” Sheckell said. “What’s funny about that is I taught Eick in fourth grade and we’ve remained close. He almost broke my heart with that shot.”

The final seconds were the culmination of a very close game between the city rivals. Seaholm had a 22-17 lead at half and a 33-30 lead at the end of the third quarter. Groves pulled ahead by four points in the fourth only to see the Maples make an 8-0 run to take back the lead.

Emanual Thomas led the Falcons with 12 points. Bass had a game-high 20 points.

Groves moves on to the district finals for a game against Lahser on Friday.

Lahser over Andover, 75-47 (Class A; Seaholm District)

Lahser coach Duane Graves said it was “top to bottom” a great effort in his team’s 75-47 win over city-rival Andover in the district semifinals on Wednesday night.

The Knights outscored the Barons in the second quarter 20-6 to take a 31-15 lead into halftime. Martez Jones had eight unanswered in the third to help his team pull away for good.

“They also missed a lot of shots,” Graves said. “I think they must of miss at least 15 3-pointers. We really tried to close up tight on their shooters and it worked.”

Graves put his seniors in to finish the game and they outscored Andover in the fourth quarter 24-18.

Yante Maten had another huge game with 21 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks. He was one of three Knights players in double-digits. Kyle Riley had 10 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Jones finished the game with 22 points. Khalil Gracey continues to shine at point guard for Lahser. He only had three points, but he dished out 11 assists.

The Knights advance to the district finals where they will take on Birmingham Groves for the third time this season. The game will be at Birmingham Seaholm at 7 p.m. Friday

“When teams play for the third team you can throw everything out the window,” Graves said. “They are a very good team, but we are playing at another level right now. I think our kids understand what it takes to win the title.”

Troy over Pontiac, 66-57 (Class A; Athens District)

If ever there was a game won from the free throw line, it was the early district semifinal between the Troy High School Colts and Pontiac Phoenix on Wednesday evening at Troy Athens High School.

The Troy boys basketball team focused its game plan in the second half on one thing: attacking the basket against Pontiac.

“We were too trigger happy in the first half from the perimeter,” Troy coach Gary Fralick said. “We wanted to break them down and take them to the basket, get James (Young) down low and get him a lot of touches in the second half. It worked out pretty well for us.”

Colts leading scorer James Young helped set the table early in the third by planting himself in the paint. When his guards fed him the ball, he didn’t waste anytime going to the rim.

The only way the Phoenix could slow down the 6-foot, 6-inch forward was to send him to the line. Young went 6 of 7 from the line in the third to give Troy a commanding 50-39 lead by the end of the quarter. In the second half, the Colts finished 22 of 27 from the line on their way to a 66-57 win.

The victory helped Troy avenge a 58-53 loss to Pontiac in the district semifinals last year. It will be the first time in more than 10 years the Phoenix won’t bring home a district championship.

“We’ve only been in the same district with them three times, and last year they beat us," Fralick said. "I don’t know if it’s a big hump to get over, but it's nice to beat Pontiac 'cause I know they are a March Madness type of team. Hopefully, now we can be a March Madness type of team.”

Rochester over Adams, 50-47

From RHSFalconsSports.OnlineSports.com: Seniors Paris Pereira and Taylor Perry have provided the much of the scoring punch for the Falcons thoughout the year.  Tonight Rochester showed what most Falcon fans already knew, that this team is much more than a two-person show. Pereira and Perry combined for four points as Rochester got contributions from everybody in a 50-47 2OT District Semifinal game at Adams.

Clawson over Centerline, 70-38 (Class B; Lincoln District)

Clawson (20-2) came out with a “lot more fire” Wednesday in the district semifinals than it had in the opening round. 

Trojans coach Bill Shellenbarger said his team “rebounded better, guarded better and wasn’t lethargic” in a 70-38 thumping of Centerline.

“We were up at half 40-19,” he said. “We were getting to every shooter, contesting every shot quite well. We had good pressure defense and that led to a lot of transition baskets.”

DeShawn Gilbert had a team-high 16 points and Tywaun Watkins was one of three players with nine points. James Steffan and Marquian Johnson each had eight rebounds. Johnson had a dunk on a breakaway in the third quarter that Shellenbarger said had his bench going crazy.

Now, the Trojans attention turns to their district finals matchup Friday against perennial contender Detroit Country Day. 

“This is as big of a game as Clawson basketball has had in 25 years,” Shellenbarger said.

Shellenbarger watched Country Day play Wednesday and he knows his team is going to have its work cut out for it. “They want to push the ball up the court and try to score 80 or 90 every time out,” he said.

Clawson is going to have to play solid transition defense if it wants to win a district championship.

FERNDALE over Highland Park, 53-43 (Class B; Ferndale District)

Ferndale advanced to the district finals with a 53-43 win over Highland Park on Wednesday night.

Nate Stepney had 14 points, four assists and six rebounds in the win. Robert Diaz added 13 points and hit three 3-pointers.

The Eagles advance to the district finals on Friday to take on city-rival University High School.

MONDAY

Boys Basketball

Clawson over LINCOLN, 61-57 (2 OT) (Class B, Lincoln District)

Flat and lethargic aren’t words any coach wants to use to describe his team’s performance – especially in a playoff game.

That’s exactly how Clawson boys basketball coach Bill Shellenbarger categorized his team’s performance in the opening round of districts. The Trojans needed double overtime to beat Warren Lincoln 61-57 Monday night. 

Just nine days ago, Clawson routed the Abes 71-44.

“This was a different team,” Shellenbarger said.  “They came out with a different energy; they came to play. We were out hustled and out rebounded.”

Clawson (19-2) gave away an eight-point lead in the second half. It couldn’t convert opportunities at the end of regulation and the first overtime that would’ve ended the game.

“We missed pretty good looks,” Shellenbarger said.

Even the second overtime was a back-and-forth affair. Clawson missed a wide-open layup in the final minute that would’ve put it up six points.

DeShawn Gilbert led Clawson with 22 points in the win. Tywaun Watkins had 16 points.

With one day between games, Shellenbarger said he doesn’t plan to make his team relive Monday's poor performance.

“We have one day to prepare. The team knows they were terrible,” Shellenbarger said. “I’m not going to pour salt on the wound.”

He’s going to focus on the positive as the team prepares for the district semifinals. The Trojans play Centerline on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The game will be at Warren Lincoln.

ATHENS over Avondale, 79-49 (Class A, Athens District)

Healthy for the first time in a month, the Troy Athens boys basketball team (15-6) opened the playoffs with a nice 79-49 win over Avondale on Monday night.

“We are finally starting to get healthy and we are really playing together right now,” Red Hawks coach Dave Scott said.

The team’s leading scorer Marcarius Coakley, who missed of February with an Achilles injury, returned to action during final week of the regular season. He was one of four Athens players to reach double-digits. The senior had 10 points against the Yellow Jackets.

Caleb McIntosh led all scorers with 20 points, Tim Shayoka had 14 and Robert Dema hit four 3-pointers for 12 points.

Shayoka helped the Red Hawks gain some momentum in the first half, Scott said. “We actually came out a little flat and he gave us a spark,” he said. “He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first and second quarter.”

As the game went on, Athens’ defensive intensity picked up and that helped open up things on offense. Troy had a 33-19 lead by halftime and never looked back.

The Red Hawks advance to the district semifinals, where it will host Waterford Mott at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“I’ve watched them play a couple of times,” Scott said. “They were the KLAA champs, finished 9-1 in the division. They have a couple of big kids and a really good point guard. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Lahser over Brother Rice, 56-44 (Class A, Seaholm District)

Fresh off winning the Oakland Activities Association Gold division title, the Bloomfield Hills Lahser boys basketball team is looking to make some noise in the Class A playoffs.

It’s off to a pretty good start.

The Knights beat Brother Rice 56-44 in the opening round of districts Monday night at .

“We’re trying to put Lahser on the map (for basketball),” Lahser High School sophomore Yante Maten said.

It was Maten’s dunk in the third quarter that Knights coach Duane Graves called the play of the game. Brother Rice was in the midst of a 6-0 run that cut Lahser’s lead in half to 28-21 when Maten threw down a monstrous dunk.

“It was an exclamation point,” Graves said. “That was a momentum change. When a kid dunks in a high school game like that, that changes the whole atmosphere in the game.”

Khalil Gracey kicked it to Maten in the lane where he took two quick steps and slammed it home.

“It was good passing,” Maten said, smiling. “Khalil threw me a really great pass and my guy went to go guard him. I saw an open lane and went for it.”

Maten, , finished the game with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Gracey had a game-high 16 points.

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