East Lansing — Andrew Kline had to feel well rested and ready for a big fourth quarter after getting into early foul trouble Thursday night in a Class D state semifinal game at Breslin Center.
Kline, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, sat for the majority of the first half after picking up two fouls in the opening three minutes.
Kline made sure he made up for it, scoring five straight points to start a game-ending 17-3 run to lift Waterford Lakes to a 64-53 victory over Wyoming Tri-unity Christian.
Lakes (22-4), in search of its first state championship, will play defending champion Powers North Central (27-0) in Saturday’s 10 a.m. title game.
First, Kline connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull Lakes even at 50 with 5:50 left, then made a short jumper moments later to give the Lakers a lead they would not give up.
Kline wasn’t done, making a dunk off a pass from Clay Senerius for a 57-53 lead, then returning the favor on a backdoor pass to Senerius for a six-point cushion with 1:20 left.
“Coach (Paul Robak) told us it was crunch time and we had to buckle down,” Kline of the fourth-quarter dominance that prevented Tri-unity Christian (20-6) from getting a basket during the final four minutes. “We knew we were the better team so we came out and played our hardest.”
Kline scored nine of his 15 points during the final quarter, making 4-of-6 shots.
Lakes also forced three straight turnovers during the final minutes, one leading to a transition layup by Devin Senerius for a 61-53 lead with a minute left. He had a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds), making 8-of-13 shots and helping the Lakers to a 37-15 rebounding advantage. Clay Senerius. Devin’s 6-3 twin, also had a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) while dishing out six assists.
Freshman Noah Robak also played a major role, scoring 12, including 3-of-5 3-pointers.
Lakes made 4-of-5 3-pointers during the second half after missing all six long-range shots in the first half.
Robak made two 3-pointers during the fourth quarter, including one from the right corner to give Lakes a 55-53 lead.
“Noah can do that,” Robak said of his nephew. “He’s only a freshman, but he has a very good game and is learning as he goes.”
Robak credited Clay and Devin Senerius for playing well with Kline on the bench.
“I thought foul trouble played a big part at the beginning when Andrew picked up his second foul,” Robak said. “Really, Clay and Devin stepped up and handled the pressure really well when Andrew went out in the first half and that was huge for us. I think that experience from last year helped.
“When it came crunch time I thought the guys really stepped up, played a little defense, got some rebounds and finally tried to get out and run a bit, which we thought we could do.”
Robak felt the experience of getting to Breslin a year ago — a 53-52 semifinal loss to Morenci — helped with multiple players returning to try to earn the Lakers their first state championship.
Devin Senerius agreed.
“Playing on the big stage is not as hard as it used to be,” Devin Senerius said. “Last year’s semifinals we were all nervous and now we just want to win.”
Tri-unity Christian coach Mark Keeler had high praise for Lakes.
“I just think you have to give Waterford (Lakes) all the credit in that fourth quarter,” Keeler said. “They just did a great job and finished strong and we didn’t and that’s disappointing.”
Junior guard Collin Rosendall scored 17 for Tri-unity Christian.