Southfield Christian rolls past Dollar Bay, Buckley comes back to beat Hillsdale academy to advance to Class D Final
East Lansing – After a heartbreaking double overtime loss at the buzzer in the Class D semifinals a year ago, Southfield Christian made its return to the Breslin Center on Thursday night and the Eagles made sure this year’s trip wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic.
Southfield Christian was dominant from the start, taking a 16-2 lead after one quarter and cruised to a convincing 71-32 win over Dollar Bay to advance to the Class D final for the first time since 2014.
In the Class D final, Southfield Christian will face Buckley, which defeated Hillsdale Academy in the final semifinal of the day at the Breslin Center, on Saturday morning at 10:00am.
Southfield Christian senior Bryce Washington, said that after last year’s heartbreaking loss, he and his teammates entered Thursday night with a much different attitude and said he feels the team’s defense has improved over the course of the season.
“The mindset was definitely different this year,” he said. “Coach brings it up every day in practice, that loss last year, we have to give our hardest every possession. You can see defensively, we’ve been better in the playoffs and it’s just played into our daily game.”
Southfield Christian wasted little time getting going in the first quarter as the Eagles scored first on a highlight reel reverse alley-oop dunk by junior Harlond Beverly and would outscore Dollar Bay 16-2 in the opening quarter.
“It was fun, I like it,” Beverly said. “We go over it every day in practice and usually it’s different, I don’t usually reverse it, but I did by accident.”
After Southfield Christian’s lead grew to as large as 18, 20-2, in the second quarter, Dollar Bay began to settle in as the Blue Bolts scored 18 points in the second, but trailed 35-20 at halftime, and that’s as Dollar Bay would get.
Dollar Bay head coach Jesse Kentala said that while his team watched plenty of film in preparation for Thursday’s game, his team wasn’t able to find an answer for Southfield Christian’s speed and athleticism.
“Nothing could have prepared us for that speed,” he said. “Defensively, they were so active – we saw it on film, so it wasn’t a surprise to us, it wasn’t a shock to us. We knew they were very handsy, they reached, they jumped for everything and that really fuels that fast break and the offense that they have.”
The Eagles came out in dominating fashion once again to start the second half, outscoring Dollar Bay 24-7 to push the lead to a more than comfortable 32 points, 59-27.
While Southfield Christian was impressive on the offensive end, head coach Josh Baker said he felt Thursday night was the best defensive performance he’s seen from his team this season.
“I think so, I think Jon and Rahmon and Caleb and Elijah and Noah, all of these guys come in and we can rotate guys and we were fortunate to have two different guys guard Schmitz and rotate and two different guys guard Janke and rotate,” he said. “So that’s tough for those guys because they can score but two different guys for a whole game hopefully could wear them down.”
In the nightcap, Buckley would battle foul trouble for much of the game, but used a second half comeback, led by senior Austin Harris to pick up a 65-55 win over Hillsdale to advance to the Class D final for a second consecutive year.
Buckley was forced to play much of the third quarter without standout senior Denver Cade, who picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, and Hillsdale Academy (24-3) took advantage as the Colts’ lead grew to double digits.
But in the closing stages of the third quarter, Buckley (21-5) would use a 3-pointer from Harris to cut the deficit down to 45-43 and shortly after, a Brock Beeman triple gave the Bears a 46-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter as they would hold onto the lead the rest of the way.
Harris led the way for Buckley with a game-high 22 points and five rebounds, while Joey Weber finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for the Bears.
Peter Kalthoff finished with 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds to pace Hillsdale Academy.