Four score in double figures to lead Arthur Hill past Everett, 73-61, in a Class A semifinalBasketball  |
East Lansing – It took Saginaw Arthur Hill a few minutes to get comfortable on the Breslin Center floor.
One must cut the Lumberjacks some slack. It’s been nine years, nine long years since Arthur Hill made it to the semifinals.
Arthur Hill trailed Lansing Everett 19-13 after the first quarter then played like a state championship contender outscoring Everett 45-26 in the middle two quarters before it coasted 73-61 victory in a Class A semifinal on Friday.
Arthur Hill (24-3) will play top-ranked Detroit Western (25-0) for the title on Saturday at noon.
Western defeated U-D Jesuit 55-46 in the other semifinal.
Western defeated Arthur Hill, 69-57, on Dec. 13.
Arthur Hill won the title in 2006 and it hasn’t been back to the semifinals since. In each of the last three seasons Saginaw High was the team that eliminated the Lumberjacks.
“We played more aggressive, after that first quarter,” Arthur Hill coach Greg McMath said. “That’s what changed things. We started playing Arthur Hill basketball.”
The Lumberjacks picked up its defensive intensity in the second quarter and this led to points in transition.
Eric Davis, a Mr. Basketball finalist, scored the first four points in the second and Willie Rodgers followed with a 3-point play to give Arthur Hill a 20-19 lead.
The quarter saw four more lead changes and Davis’ two free throws completed the scoring in the quarter and Arthur Hill led 35-32.
The momentum Arthur Hill gained in the second only increased in the third.
Everett (24-3), which eliminated defending champion Muskegon in dominating fashion in Tuesday’s quarterfinal, 75-52, stayed with Arthur Hill in the early moments of the second half. Held to three points in the first half, Jamyrin Jackson scored eight straight for his team including three free throws that tied the score at 42-42 with 5:13 left.
Everett’s offense then got quiet. Jackson’s 3-pointer with 2:25 was all the Vikings could muster in the final five minutes. Arthur Hill ended the half on a 16-3 run topped off by Brian Bowen’s alley-oop dunk off of a fine pass from Davis.
Bowen, a 6-7 sophomore considered the top candidate for the 2017 Mr. Basketball award, had eight points in the quarter.
Bowen played just four minutes in the first quarter after picking up his second foul. He had no points and no rebounds in the quarter then finished with 15 points and four rebounds.
“We came out strong in the third quarter,” Bowen said. “We had to stay together.”
Davis had 16 of his 20 points in the first half and had all of his six assists in the second. He knew Bowen would pick up his play in the second half and told him so.
“I told Brian the first half was mine and the second half is yours,” Davis said. “He’s the best player in the country.”
High praise indeed.
Arthur Hill left the door open for Everett in the fourth as it committed half of its 12 turnovers.
But the Vikings didn’t take advantage. They scored just two baskets in the first five minutes and never made a serious run.
Bill Burton gave Arthur Hill a big boost with his outside shooting. He was 4-for-7 from the 3-point range (his teammates were 1-of-10) and scored 18 points. De’Quevion Johnson added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Trevor Manuel had 15 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks to lead Everett. Jackson had 16 points but was just 2-for-13 from the 3-point range.
Everett was making its first semifinal appearance since winning the title in 2004.
“We did a poor job of getting back in transition defense in the third quarter,” Everett coach Desmond Ferguson said.
“Trevor did a great job for us all season. That’s what got us to this point. We won 18 straight coming in. Ever since we beat Grand Ledge in overtime (82-78) the guys stepped up. Trevor fouled out with four minutes left and the other guys picked up their game.”