Eric Davis scores 24 to lead Arthur Hill in what could be its last home game against SaginawBasketball  |
Saginaw – If this was to be the last game Saginaw Arthur Hill played Saginaw High at home Arthur Hill coach Greg McMath wanted it to be special.
Mr. Basketball candidate Eric Davis and his Arthur Hill teammates made sure that it was as the Lumberjacks outscored Saginaw 30-14 in the last 6:22 and defeated the Trojans 88-66 in a Saginaw Valley Association game on Tuesday.
“It’s one of the best rivalries in the state,” McMath said. “I don’t talk about (the possibility of the schools merging) with my players. Whatever happens you have to move forward. Right now I’m concerned with winning the Saginaw Valley. If this is the last one, we made a little history.”
The schools are the only public high schools in the Saginaw school district, a district that is strapped financially. Declining enrollment at both schools has only added to the financial crunch. The district gave serious consideration of closing one of the schools last June and creating one high school for this school year. Those close to the situation say consolidating the two into one high school for the 2015-16 is a done deal.
Saginaw (8-4, 7-1) will host Arthur Hill (10-2, 8-0) on Feb. 13 and the two teams will likely meet in a Class A district semifinal on March 11 at Saint Johns. An Arthur Hill victory over Owosso in a district opener on March 9 will set up what will be an emotionally-packed conclusion to this historic rivalry.
Davis, a 6-4 guard who signed with Texas, had 24 points and seven rebounds, and did his best to keep this game in perspective and not make too much out of it likely being the last on his home court.
“It’s a good win,” he said. “It’s the regular season. We’ll enjoy it until midnight then go back to work. They made their run. We kept our composure.
“Every game I play I think it’s my last game at Arthur Hill. You go out here and represent Arthur Hill. We just want to go out with a bang. I told the guys in the locker room who will be back next year. Go out and play like a senior. And they did.
“(The rivalry) is really intense. These are the guys you go out with and hang out with and go out and get something to eat with.”
Don’t mistake Davis’ words. He wasn’t downplaying this one victory. He knows there will be more important games to play against Saginaw. The tournament game will be the one everyone will remember most. At this point in this long-standing rivalry, no one knows this better than Davis. Saginaw has eliminated Arthur Hill in each of the last three districts leaving Davis without a district title.
It’s difficult to imagine a player in the state, this season, who’s looking forward to playing in March more than Davis.
As always, this game was played before a sold-out gymnasium. Despite the energy and anticipation inside the teams played a ragged first half. There were 28 fouls called, 41 free throws attempted and 20 turnovers. Arthur Hill led 42-29.
Willie Rodgers’ two free throws with 5:34 left in the third quarter gave Arthur Hill a 50-32 lead but the Trojans quickly got back in it on Ronquavius Southard’s two 3-pointers and a basket by Thomas Stuckey.
A basket by Nate Moore pushed the lead to 54-41 with 2:56 left but Saginaw scored the next eight points to pull within five with 50.9 seconds left.
De’Quevion Johnson’s basketball ended the run and Arthur Hill led 56-49 at the end of the quarter.
Arthur Hill committed 10 turnovers in the third but cut those down to just three in the fourth.
Billy Burton added 16 points for Arthur Hill and sophomore Brian Bowen cleaned up things around the basket as he had 19 rebounds, 13 points and two blocks. Johnson had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Southard led Saginaw with 21 points and Javon Pratt had 18.