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Saginaw-Arthur Hill BBALL Rivalry Ending Feature: Talent, Heated-Competition Galore Is What Sag-AH Hoops Rivalry Will Be Remembered For

From Scott Burnstein:  Saginaw — The oldest, most-storied high school boys basketball rivalry in the state will stage its final regular season showdown Friday night at the Dow Event Center as Saginaw and Saginaw Arthur Hill square off for “SagNasty” bragging rights once again. Barring a rematch in the playoffs next months, it will be the last hoops contest between rivals that played their first game against each other in the 1910-1911 campaign, more than a century ago.

Combined, the two schools have produced 106 first-team all-state selections. The two historic programs will merge this summer to become Saginaw United.

Around the United States, the city of Saginaw has the reputation as a cager’s paradise and hardwood talent mecca. Droves of future pros and Division I college stars cut their teeth on the court in the Saginaw school system.

The Saginaw Trojans basketball squad, know locally as simply, “The High” is the winningest boys hoops in MHSAA history and has captured six state titles (1942, 1962, 1996, 2007, 2008, 2012). Arthur Hill boasts to two crowns (1944, 2006). Saginaw enters Friday’s bittersweet affair with a record of 13-5, while Arthur Hill sits at 12-4.

“The tradition of excellence is undisputed, everyone realizes what Saginaw means to basketball in this state and the history and pride attached to it,” senior Saginaw guard Barron Abby said. “Both teams are going out running and gunning, leaving it all on the floor because this is it. we’ll be rivals for another month and then we’ll all be one big Saginaw basketball brotherhood, which already exists, but now it will be even more so.”

The Top 10 Players From The Rivalry

1 Draymond Green (Saginaw 6-6 F Class of ’08) — Led the Trojans to back-to-back state championships before leading Michigan State to a pair of NCAA Final Fours and has helped the Golden State Warriors raise four NBA tile banners. Over the two years of state crownings, Green redefined the position of point forward — the same way he did in the Big Ten and in the NBA) and averaged 23 points, 12 boards and 4 assists a game. Considered a future Hall of Famer.

2 Jason Richardson (Arthur Hill 6-6 G Class of ’99)— After guiding Arthur Hill to the Class A state finals a senior, Richardson won an NCAA championship with Michigan State and went on to have a 14-year career in the NBA (2001-2015)

3 Ernie Thompson (Saginaw Class 6-4 G/F of ’62)— This high-flying 6-foot-4 guard dominated play in the early 1960s for the Trojans, leading Saginaw to the state title and putting on a clinic in the state finals by scoring 42 points and grabbing 27 rebounds against Benton Harbor in a 69-58 victory. Following his heroics in Saginaw, Thompson became an all-time great at Bradley University.

4 Craig Dill (Arthur Hill 6-11 C Class of ’63) — As a senior, took the Lumberjacks to an undefeated season and a trip to the Class A semifinals, averaging 29 points and 12 rebounds per game. Playing his college ball at the University of Michigan, he was a starter in the post and a captain as a senior in 1967. During his pro career, he won an ABA title with the Pittsburgh Pipers.

5 Tony Smith (Saginaw 6-2 G Class of ’74)— An electrifying 6-2 guard that torched defenses in the early 1970s with his speed, playmaking and scoring ability, Smith logged 23 points and 10 assists per outing as a senior. He played in college at Houston and UNLV, where he started in the backcourt for the 1977 Running Rebels NCAA Final Four club..

6 Dick Rifenburg (Arthur Hill 6-3 G Class of 44)– The three-sport standout led Arthur Hill to its first state title, earning Class A Player of the Year in the MHSAA during his senior campaign before going on to play football in the Big Ten at the University of Michigan and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Rifenburg became a popular sports broadcaster in Buffalo following his athletic career.

7 Dar Tucker (Arthur Hill 6-5 G/F Class of ’06)— Headed the Lumberjacks’ charge to the 2006 Class A state championship, Tucker dotted the stat sheet for 25 points and10 boards per night that winter. He played in college at DePaul and has enjoyed a long career overseas playing professionally in a variety of countries..

8 Webster Kirksey (Saginaw 6-2 G Class of ’51) — Known as the consummate scoring point guard in the backcourt with the Trojans, compared to a John Stockton-mixed-with-Steph Curry due to his shooting range, Kirksey starred in college at Michigan Normal (now Eastern Michigan) and played for the Harlem Globetrotters.

9 Anthony Roberson (Saginaw Class 6-1 G of ’02) — Instant offense and high-paced action is what you got when you went to see Roberson, whether in a Trojans uniform or in college in the SEC at Florida or in the pros. Currently still playing professionally in Mexico and has made four NBA stops (New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls.

10 Larry Savage (Saginaw 6-2 G Class of ’42) — Captain and No. 1 scorer on the city’s first basketball state title team. A three-sport star, he played football and baseball in college in the Big Ten at the University of Michigan.

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