In Play with Tom Markowski

Churchill stuns Northville, 51-48, to play unbeaten Canton in conference title game

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

Churchill stuns Northville, 51-48, to play unbeaten Canton in conference title game

 

 

Livonia – Dayton Davis barely got his name in the scorer’s book but with the game in the balance Livonia Churchill coach Jim Solak made sure his senior point guard had the ball in his hands.

Northville was one of two Class A teams still unbeaten entering the final two weeks of the season but the Mustangs trailed by a point with less than three minutes to play. Northville fourth and final turnover of the fourth quarter gave Churchill possession and it was Davis’ responsibility to maintain possession and run Solak’s offense.

“I had to make sure I took control of it,” Davis said. “I had to take care of the ball and not turn it over.”

Davis did that and more. With Northville trying to take away the passing lanes and overplaying defensively trying to get a steal that would ultimately lead to the winning basket, Davis found Evan Cummins making a backdoor move and Cummins’ layup with 1:34 left gave the Chargers a 47-44 lead and they went on to upset Northville, 51-48, in a Kensington Lakes Activities Association Kensington Conference semifinal on Monday at Churchill.

Churchill (12-6) will at Canton (18-0) for the conference title on Friday at 7 p.m.

Canton defeated Salem, 50-39, in the other semifinal.

Davis’ two free throws, his only points on the game, pulled the Chargers within 44-43 with 3:20 left.

Joan Andoni grabbed a defensive rebound for Churchill and scored with 2:48 left to give the Chargers a 45-44 lead. It was the seventh and last lead change of the hectic fourth.

After Cummins’ basket Nick Wilds (12 points) scored on a put-back to make it a one-point game with 1:11 remaining.

Thirty-five seconds later Northville fouled Jerron Hampton in what appeared to be an alert play. Hampton had yet to attempt a free throw in the game and has been inconsistent there all season. Hampton made both free throws and Myron Burnette’s basket with 26 seconds left gave Churchill a 51-48 lead.

Northville missed on two 3-point attempts in the final seconds.

The Mustangs controlled most of the first half and led 26-22. They scored 15 straight to take a 15-2 lead five minutes in.

Jon Hovermale (16 points) and Andoni ended the quarter with consecutive 3-pointers to stem the tide.

“We had breakdowns early,” Solak said. “We had to remind ourselves this is not what we prepared for. We hit a couple of shots and it calmed everyone down. We changed defenses throughout the second quarter. We never lost control.

“Northville is so efficient. They execute. They’re sneaky fast and they’re long.”

And then there’s Hampton. The junior missed 25 of his first 35 free throw attempts this season. It got in his head. Solak stuck with him, kept things positive and Hampton was 15 of his last 20 entering Monday’s game.

Andoni added 14 points and Hampton had 11 for Churchill.

Northville held a 27-19 edge in rebounds with Justin Gibbons (12 points) leading the way with eight but the Mustangs failed to convert on a number of offensive rebounds.

“We missed a lot of shots early,” Northville coach Todd Sander said. “They play fast and that can speed you up.

“Churchill deserved it. They came back and took the lead. We got the lead back and they finished.”

Davis could hardly contain the joy afterward.

“It’s incredible right now,” he said. “We’ve come so far. I can’t wait (for the title game).”