East Lansing — Laingsburg coach Greg Mitchell wasn't pleased with much of his team's offensive play on Thursday. But the ending he couldn't have scripted any better.
Shaun McKinney's fast-break layup just before time expired gave Laingsburg a 45-43 victory over Negaunee in a Class C semifinal on Thursday at the Breslin Center.
Laingsburg (24-2), making its first semifinal appearance, led most of the game but with 20 seconds left it was on the defensive as Negaunee had possession with the game tied at 43-43. Negaunee missed a jump shot and Laingsburg's Jake Zielinski got the rebound and quickly passed to Zach Walker at midcourt. Walker took a few dribbles and passed to McKinney who did the rest.
Unranked Laingsburg's task in Saturday's 4:30 p.m. final is even more daunting. Its opponent is top-ranked and defending champion Flint Beecher (26-1), which coasted past Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the other semifinal, 73-55.
"It's was an outstanding game," Mitchell said. "It was ugly at times but that's how we play. For awhile it looked like neither team could hit the ocean from the beach. You saw two really good defensive teams.
"It was a legendary finish."
Negaunee (24-2) played catch-up all game as it trailed 18-14 at halftime, 32-29 at the end of the third quarter and 41-35, its largest deficit, after Ryan Wade's 3-pointer with 2:29 remaining. Tyler Jandron's 3-pointer followed by Tanner Uren's put-back with 1:35 left tied the game at 43-43.
"As a coach you think you are in good position," Negaunee coach Michael O'Donnell said. "It didn't work out for us. (Zielinski) made a great pass. It was a great basketball play, to make that catch and the dump-off. Looking back, it (Negaunee's last shot) was probably too early."
Zielinski led Laingsburg with 18 points and eight rebounds, and McKinney had 16 points and four steals.
"I just wanted to make a play," Zielinski said. "I didn't want to overthrow it."
Uren had 16 points for Negaunee and Jandron, who had a career-high 36 points in Tuesday's quarterfinal, was held to 12.