Class C final: Flint Beecher claims 3rd title in 4 years
East Lansing — Flint Beecher ran its way to the Class C state championship Saturday afternoon at Breslin Center, consistency scoring in transition on its way to a dominating 78-52 victory over Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian.
It was Beecher's third state title in the past four years, winning consecutive titles in 2012 and '13 with Mr. Basketball Monte Morris leading the way.
Oh, and expect Beecher to be back with the majority of its starters back in 6-foot-3 junior guard Aquavius Burks (15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists), 6-7 sophomore Levane Blake (six points, 10 rebounds) and sophomore point guard Malik Ellison (10 points, four assists).
Senior guards Cedric Moten (24 points, seven rebounds) and Samuel Toins (17 points) led Beecher (26-1) with Moten making 11-of-13 shots from the field and Toins, 5-of-10 three-pointers.
Beecher built a 20-point lead in the opening quarter, then pushed its cushion to 45-21 at halftime.
"We wanted to throw the first punch," Beecher coach Mike Williams said. "We wanted to get out and pressure them. Their point guard, No. 11, (Preston) Huckaby, he's an extremely, extremely good ball player and he's good off of penetration, he can pull up and shoot, he can do so many different things so we wanted to present to him a two-man front where he couldn't beat us off the dribble.
"We wanted to keep two guys in their face, pressuring the ball the whole time, not allowing them to come up the floor like they wanted to. We wanted to set the tempo early in the game. Our kids got comfortable and we got out running like we like to do. Our shots started falling and the game just flowed for us."
Beecher gave Huckaby little room to operate, limiting him to 10 points and forcing him into four turnovers. He fouled out with 6:41 left in the game.
Beecher used its fullcourt pressure to force a half dozen turnovers in the opening quarter, turning them into transition baskets.
When NorthPointe Christian (21-6) misfired on three-point attempts, Beecher would get the long rebounds and start transition baskets.
And, when Beecher wasn't getting it done in the running game, Toins was making perimeter shots.
Toins made three 3-pointers in the opening quarter alone, one from the left corner for an 11-2 lead, one from the right corner to open up a 20-5 advantage and one from on top for a 23-5 lead.
Well, you get the picture, everything went right for Beecher and that's because the Bucs made it happen, going on attack mode from the opening tip.
Beecher certainly had its share of highlight-reel plays, including a dunk by Blake off a no-look pass from Burks in transition to open up an 8-0 lead a little more than two minutes into the game.
"The ball wouldn't go in the hoop for us," NorthPointe Christian coach Jared Redell said. "We made a few turnovers and probably took some jump shots a little quick and didn't attack the rim. I thought in the second half we did a much better job of getting to the basket and not settling for those quick jumpers.
"You know that when you throw the ball up against their 2-2-1 press you have to make quick decisions and we shot some quick ones (jumpers), but at the same time with the guys that shoot them, we have three guys that shoot in the mid to upper 30 percent and we were 5-of-24 (3-pointers) tonight. I think some of that was the environment here, some of it was definitely their defense and how quick they are. I really believe if we make shots early we're playing with them the whole game, but obviously that didn't happen."
No, it didn't.
Kual Nhial, a 6-6 senior, had 16 points and 10 rebounds for NorthPointe Christian. Junior guard Tyler Baker scored 14.