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Last year's Class A runner-up Rockford knocked out of the boys basketball tournament on the first night

   | Jeff Chaney

State Champs! Sports Network

 

LOWELL, MI – Last year the Rockford boys basketball team had a magical run to the Breslin Center.

The Rams advanced all the way to the Class A state title game at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.

Rockford lost to Saginaw in the championship game, but it was a season of memories for the Rams.

The run this year was a lot shorter, as Rockford fell to Forest Hills Northern on the first night of the MHSAA state tournament Monday night at Lowell High School, 58-55.

“Any tough is loss, if you lose on Monday night of the tournament or Saturday night at the Breslin Center,” said Rockford coach Nick Allen, whose team ends its season with a 14-6 record. “It didn't work out for us tonight, it was a tough night.”

Prospects looked good for Rockford early on, as the Rams forced an up-tempo game and hit six 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes of the game to take a 31-27 lead to halftime.

But in the second half, and more specifically in the third quarter, Forest Hills Northern began to take advantage of its size in the paint to turn the game around.

With Rockford still up by four with six minutes to play in the third quarter, the Huskies began to move the ball in the paint and let their beg men, Jamal White, Jayvon Bennett and Trey Moore take over.

And that trio scored 10 points in a 12-3 run to end the quarter that gave Forest Hills Northern a 44-39 lead heading into the final quarter.

Forest Hills Northern also out-rebounded the Rams in the third, 8-2.

From there, the Huskies were able keep Rockford in check the final eight minutes, thanks in part to the Rams going a bit cold from behind the 3-point arch.

Rockford connected on just two of 12 3-pointers in the second half.

Forest Hills Northern coach Joe Soules was thrilled to open his 2013 state tournament with a win against the defending runner-ups.

“(Rockford assistant coach Ryan DeKuiper) and Nick do such a fabulous job there,” said Soules, whose team improved to 15-6 with the win. “They are so well coached with tough players, they really get after it. This is a big win for the team.”

Forest Hills Northern had only two players in double figures, as senior point guard Michael McLaughlin led the team with 13 points, while White chipped in with 10.

The Rams were paced by senior guard Chase Fairchild's game-high 18 points.

Allen said it was a tough post-game speech to his team, especially to the six seniors on the team.

“Life is full of learning experiences,” Allen said. “I told the team I hope we can learn from this night and use it in life.”