East Lansing — After losing its dynamic backcourt in four-star guard Harlond Beverly (Montverde, Florida) and Caleb Hunter (U-D Jesuit), Southfield Christian junior guard Da’Jion Humphrey made the most of his opportunity to play a bigger role on the big stage of Breslin Center in a state semifinal.
Humphrey scored all 16 of his points in the first half to set the tempo and Southfield Christian (20-6) went on to a one-sided 55-28 victory over Dollar Bay (21-5) in a Division 4 semifinal Thursday night.
Humphrey was special during a pivotal 21-6 run in the final nine minutes of the first half when he scored 10 of his points, including a 3-pointer, a three-point play (putback and free throw) and a inside basket during the final 1:35 of the second quarter to open a 34-16 halftime lead.
Humphrey had as many points as Dollar Bay’s entire team, making 6-of-13 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds.
“He (Humphrey) plays really hard, he’s kind of like a Draymond Green, brings a ton of energy, can rebound, can pass it and can really get it going,” Southfield Christian eighth-year coach Josh Baker said. “Jon (Sanders) kind of did the same thing in the last game, went on a huge run, and Noah (Rheker) went on a big run the game before so each of them can kind of bring a spark so they’ve done that all year for us.”
Said Humphrey: “It’s just getting in the flow of the game. We always stress playing hard so I played hard, played smart and let the game come to me and I thank my teammates, too. They found me when I was open.”
It was during the second quarter when Southfield Christian increased the pressure defensively after Dollar Bay had pulled within 13-10 late in the opening quarter.
“We just talked as a group, like settle down and get stops and keep getting stops, don’t let them get out on the break and pressure the ball so we can stop their run and get one of our own,” Southfield Christian junior guard Rahmon Scruggs said.
Southfield Christian extended the lead to 47-21 after three quarters, limiting Dollar Bay, at the time, to 26.5-percent shooting while holding a 29-19 rebounding advantage and forcing 14 turnovers. Verian Patrick’s 3-pointer — Southfield Christian’s 10th of the game — opened up a 30-point cushion (53-23) with 5:27 left.
Sanders finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Sanders and Humphrey were starters last year, but obviously are the go-to players with Beverly, Hunter and Washington gone.
“It’s a blessing to step into a bigger role that I wasn’t in last year,” Sanders said. “This year I feel like I’m playing to the best of my ability with a couple of guys we’ve lost, and my teammates are helping me.”
“We felt like we have the opportunity to showcase what we can do instead of being in the background,” Humphrey said.
Southfield Christian came in as the defending Class D champions, but again lost Beverly and Hunter while standout Bryce Washington moved on and is now starting at Penn.
Earlier in the week Baker said, “This group has been one of the best groups I have coached. They all work hard and have great attitudes and are extremely coachable. This has been one of the best defensive teams I have coached. I think they all have a lot to prove and have a chip on their shoulder to show everyone how good and talented they are.”
Baker’s words were all backed up by Southfield Christian’s play, and now it will play for the school’s fifth state title in the last eight years when it faces Frankfort in Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship game. Franfort defeated Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, 44-43.
Ashton Janke had nine points and seven rebounds for Dollar Bay which lost to Southfield Christian 71-32 in last year’s state semifinal.
Southfield Christian 55, Dollar Bay 28
Frankfort 44, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 43
Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.