East Lansing — Maddie Clark and Pittsford ended Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary’s Cinderella run in the Class D state championship game Saturday morning at the Breslin Center, earning a dominating 71-31 victory.
Clark, a physical 5-foot-10 senior post player, had 29 points and 10 rebounds to help Pittsford repeat as state champions, going a perfect 28-0 and pushing its winning streak to 55 over the last two years.
In fact, the only thing that got in the way of Pittsford owning the state record for consecutive victories is a 64-60 overtime loss to St. Ignace in the 2015 state title game, giving up a 20-point second-half lead to prevent it from a 27-0 record that season. St. Ignace had reached the Class C title game the previous year.
Still, Clark and senior guard Jaycie Burger were able to be a part of a four-year group that set the state record for wins (103-2). MLS finished 18-10 with its 11 game winning streak coming to an end.
Pittsford coach Chris Hodos, who was high school friends of the fathers of Clark and Burger, sat at the postgame news conference with a grin as his star players talked of the win … and their careers while breaking down in tears.
“It’s sad that it’s our last game ever in a Pittsford uniform, but I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any other way, running clock in a state championship is pretty special and I’m happy that I got to take part in that,” said Burger who finished with 27 points, making 5-of-15 three-pointers.
Pittsford set the tempo by forcing nine turnovers in the opening quarter with its fullcourt pressure and trapping defense, led by junior guard Marissa Shaw.
Clark’s inside presence (eight points) and Burger’s 3-point shooting (two threes) also played a major role in Pittsford’s 16-6 lead after one.
Pittsford increased the lead to 30-17 at halftime with Burger contributing 10 points during the second quarter with two more 3-pointers.
Clark picked up her third foul late in the half and sat for the final 1:28 of the quarter, but MLS failed to get any closer than 10 (25-15) with her on the sidelines.
Clark returned in the third quarter and was dominant, as was Pittsford’s trap, forcing nine turnovers to open up a 56-23 lead on Clark’s putback in the final seconds, giving her 25 points at the time. She finished with eight offensive rebounds, including a half dozen putbacks.
“It’s been phenomenal, it’s surreal, like can you ask for anything more?” said Clark of the last three years playing at Breslin, earning Class D Associated Press Player of the Year honors this season. “I’m an emotional person, these last two seasons we have been perfect and that doesn’t happen very often. I'm really thankful for my team and everyone for making me a better player."
Pittsford went on to use a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter to put the running clock in play with a 65-25 lead with 5:30 remaining.
“We played a great game, obviously, turned them over 29 times,” Hodos said. “We live off our defense and we did again today. We didn’t do too much wrong today besides Maddie getting in a little bit of foul trouble, other than that not much wrong at all. I’d like to have four more years with them.”
Hodos knew Clark, Burger & Co. could be a talented group back in grade school.
“I remember watching them in the second grade and they were making left-handed layups and you don’t see that so you knew they would be a special group,” pointed out Hodos.
Clark and Burger will be moving on to Hillsdale College where Clark will play volleyball and Burger basketball.
Reese VanLue had 13 points and nine rebounds for MLS.