East Lansing — Kavon Bey sat and watched helplessly a year ago when Detroit Henry Ford lost to Wyoming Godwin Heights in the Class B state championship game.
Well, Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers has called Bey’s number his senior year and the 6-foot-4 forward has delivered, playing much bigger than his size.
Bey scored, rebounded and blocked shots to make sure Henry Ford came away with the championship trophy this time around, helping his team to a 61-47 victory over Stevensville Lakeshore Saturday night at the Breslin Center.
And Bey had to play bigger than his size going up against 6-11 center Braden Burke.
“Our coach (Ken Flowers) just wanted us to come out and front the post because we saw how they liked to feed the post in yesterday’s (semifinal)," said Bey, who finished with eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes, fouling out with 3:31 left and Henry Ford holding a 48-33 lead. "It was kind of hard because he was bigger than me, kind of throwing elbows, but I was trying my best to get around them.
“I just tried to come out and play hard for my team because you’re not going to get a chance like this again. It feels good to end my high school career with a state championship, especially since last year I didn’t get a lot of clock (playing time) so I wanted to come back and show everybody that I can play and what I can do.”
Henry Ford senior point guard James Towns (15 points) knows what Bey can do, saying: "He’s the heart of the team. He gets every rebound. In high school, he’s like Draymond Green, that’s what he does.”
Henry Ford has been undersized all year, but still found a way to get things done, Flowers said.
“We gave up so much size all season, you can’t question our heart, the size of our heart,” Flowers said. “These guys play with so much passion and so much desire and they understand that the game is really won in the trenches. They always battle. They know how to be tough down there. Kavon Bey, since the tournament started, he’s been one of the guys who has been relentless in the post, checking the big guys.”
Henry Ford (20-6) held a 30-19 rebounding advantage over Stevensville (20-8), which was led by Burke and 6-7 Max Gaishin. Alston Hunter, a 6-4, 190-pound forward, had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Henry Ford.
Henry Ford also received some timely three-point shooting, especially with Bey in foul trouble and sitting the bench for a long period of time late in the third.
Henry Ford entered the fourth quarter with a 34-28 lead, but made just 2-of-20 3-pointers, that was until Deonta Ulmer and Jeremy Crawley (18 points, 7-of-15 shooting) made consecutive 3s during a 30-second stretch to open up a 42-30 lead with 5:45 remaining.
“That sequence was huge,” said Flowers of the 3s, especially Ulmer’s since he was 0-for-5 from deep range until connecting early in the fourth. “Lakeshore came out in that third quarter on a great run. We couldn’t score for a second, then back-to-back threes took the air out of them a little bit.”
Henry Ford was at its best during the second quarter when it outscored Lakeshore by a 16-3 margin to take a 27-13 halftime lead.
Bey only scored two points and grabbed three rebounds during the pivotal quarter, but the putback opened up a 15-10 lead and he also frustrated Lakeshore’s post players, forcing Burke to miss an inside shot, then getting him called for an offensive foul on the next possession for his second foul, sending him to bench with 4:20 left.
With Burke on the bench, Henry Ford finished the half on a 11-1 run, getting second and third chance opportunities and also scoring transition baskets off of steals.
And, it was important Henry Ford outscored Lakeshore 7-0 off turnovers and 6-0 off second chance points during that second quarter, especially since it cashed in on just 2-of-15 3-pointers in the first half.
Henry Ford held a 14-10 rebounding advantage at the half, limiting Stevenson to 35.7 percent shooting and just one offensive rebound.
In the second half, Henry Ford was patient, pulling the ball out and taking its time before attacking the basket to get inside baskets from Jeremy Crawley or a putback from Bey to open up a 15-point (34-19) cushion midway through the third.
Then, Lakeshore put on some pressure, using the full-court press and half-court trap to force some turnovers to get back in the game. It also got its inside game going in Burke and Gaishin while getting Bey into foul trouble. Bey picked up his third, then fourth foul to force him to the bench with Lakeshore pulling within 34-28 with two minutes left in the third.
Lakeshore’s comeback bid would come to an end when the Trojans finally heated up from the perimeter, thanks to Crawley and Ulmer.
Burke finished with 19 points (9-of-14 shooting) and five rebounds, 15 points coming in the second half. Senior guard Logan Steffes scored 10.