West Bloomfield -- Monte' Morris walked out of the gym a hero Tuesday night.
Which is not unusual.
A red-and-white varsity jacket was draped over his shoulders. The back told the story of a young man finishing up a dream season.
"First Team All-State"
"Player of the Year"
The lettering was big and bold, sort of like Morris' game. He scored 26 as Flint Beecher defeated Detroit Consortium Prep, 46-44, in a Class C quarterfinal game.
But there was more than one player to watch this night.
Meet Consortium freshman guard Joshua Jackson, who, unlike Morris, wasn't smiling. Instead, he was locked in the warm embrace of family and friends after the loss.
He can be comforted in the fact he took Mr. Basketball down to the wire.
But this game came down to one play — one more play the senior headed to Iowa State had and the one the freshman didn't.
At least not yet.
'He should reach greatness'
Consortium trailed by two with less than 10 seconds remaining when he was given an opportunity.
He took the ball and decided to drive.
But Morris had studied the freshman closely during game film sessions. He knew Jackson loved to drive left.
So, Morris stole the ball. And Beecher won, and is headed to Breslin Center to play Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central in the state semifinals.
"We are hopeful that he will walk away from this and be a better man for it," Consortium interim coach James Mitchell said of Jackson. "He is such a nice young man. He will get better because of this."
"This kid is going to be scary," Morris said. "I can really see his potential.
"There is no reason why he should not reach greatness. It was really hard to earn it tonight."
Jackson finished with nine points, but his game is not just about scoring.
He is 6-foot-6 with a mature game. He rebounds, blocks shots and finds teammates.
And he doesn't have the charisma Morris has.
That will come with time.
Instead, Jackson didn't speak after the game. His family wants to keep him grounded and develop into a top-notch student and basketball player.
'Moments I will cherish'
As for Morris, this night was just another in a long line of successes.
But, he knows things will change a bit next year at Iowa State.
"I got that Beecher love here," said Morris, named Mr. Basketball this week. "Everybody loves us and it is a great feeling. I know I won't get this much love even at Iowa State. It is moments like this that I will cherish."
Consortium and Jackson won't cherish this night.
They'll learn from it.
They'll see that Morris took those steps from failure to success.
And if you listen to Johnson, the process already has begun.
"You can't win until you lose," he told his team. "Next time you will know what to do."
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