Henry Ford gets second crack at state title

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Ford's James Towns struggles to bring the ball up court near the end of the game.

East Lansing — Detroit Henry Ford made its return trip to Breslin Center pay off, using a mix of perimeter shooting and inside dominance to overwhelm Williamston, 70-48, Friday night in a Class B semifinal.

Henry Ford was quick, athletic and on a mission, trying to get back to the title game after falling to Wyoming Godwin Heights in last year’s championship game.

Henry Ford (19-6) got battle-tested during the PSL season, then went on its long postseason run with senior point guard James Towns (17 points) and 6-foot-4 senior forward Kavon Bey (21 points, eight rebounds) leading the way.

Williamston had senior guard Riley Lewis and little else. Lewis, who scored 37 in a regional upset win over defending champion Wyoming Godwin Heights, scored 32, shooting 11-of-24 (5-of-14 on 3-pointers). He had 28 of his team’s 33 points through three quarters, but could only watch the Hornets (21-4) enter the final quarter trailing 58-33.

Henry Ford will play Stevensville-Lakeshore in the championship game Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

“Today’s game was a real passionate game for us because we want to get back in this position,” Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers said. “We tried to take 22 (Lewis) away and he had a real great game, but other than that the guys played for each other, played unselfish and they’ve been doing that since the tournament started and it showed today.”

Henry Ford shot 58.3 percent from the field and made 7-of-11 3-pointers. The Trojans set the tempo with their perimeter shooting, making four 3-pointers in the opening quarter — two each from Towns and Jeremy Crawley - to take an 18-11 lead. Crawley finished with 14 points.

“James is the backbone of the team, I think the best guard in the state,” Flowers said. “He came out passionate, trying to will his team on his back and show everybody he’s here. His leadership skills has blossomed over the last two or three weeks.”

Then, Henry Ford’s senior forwards Alston Hunter and Bey took over during a 25-9 second-quarter run to open a 43-20 cushion.

Bey dominated inside during one two-minute stretch, scoring on a putback, finding Deonta Ulmer for a 3-pointer after getting a steal, then scoring off a tip, followed by an inside basket for a 39-18 lead with 1:30 left in the half.

Bey even showed off his 3-point shooting, knocking down a jumper from the left corner for a 48-23 lead with 5:52 left. He made 10-of-12 shots from the field en route to his career-high 21 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds to lead Henry Ford to a 29-18 advantage on the glass.

“I just came out and played my role, try to rebound,” Bey said. “I just wanted to come out and play hard so we could get back to states (championship game).”

Flowers said Bey had to play big for Henry Ford after it lost 6-5 Antwan Johnson, who transferred out of state prior to the season.

Johnson started both games at Breslin last year while Bey played just one minute in the semifinal and sat on the bench the entire title game.

Now, Bey will be able to step on the floor with the championship on the line.

“Kavon’s really come along the last month or two,” Flowers said. “He’s really stepped up and played like a senior. He’s not only a rebounder, but he can handle the ball and shoot it and put it on the floor. For us, he’s our big fella, but really he’s a wing so when teams have guys who really can’t check him we try to exploit that since he can put the ball on the floor with the best of them.”