East Lansing — Nigel Colvin wasn’t about to let River Rouge experience more Final Four heartbreak at Breslin Center.
After losing Class B state semifinal games at the Breslin the previous two years, Colvin knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired in regulation to pull River Rouge even at 60 to force overtime.
And, River Rouge — 23-2 and ranked No. 2 in The Detroit News Super 20 poll — went on to earn a 72-66 victory over previously unbeaten Harper Woods Chandler Park (21-1), which won its first regional in school history last week.
Colvin, a 6-foot-1 senior guard who played on River Rouge’s teams in previous trips to the Breslin, finished with 20 points, making another 3-pointer to start the overtime to give his team a 63-60 lead.
Colvin was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field in the first half, including two 3-pointers, for 14 points to give River Rouge a 28-23 lead, but he took just two more shots … that is until his game-tying shot.
“It wasn’t like it was a prayer, I just wanted to get my team to overtime,” said Colvin of his tying 3-pointer. “I just tried to be calm and knock it down. It was just off of instinct.”
Said River Rouge coach Lamonta Stone, who guided River Rouge to Class B state championships in 1998 and ’99: “Nigel was known as being a spot up shooter and he’s worked hard every day in practice to take shots off the bounce.
“At River Rouge the only banners in our gym is the 14 state championship banners and I told these guys that they should be the 15th. They are a great group of kids. When we started back in November I told them it’s state championship or bust.”
Stone replaced Mark White as head coach this fall.
River Rouge had to battle back from a 54-50 deficit with 2:19 remaining to get the job done.
And River Rouge 6-7 sophomore Legend Geeter came up with a big performance, scoring scoring 17, including 13 coming during the fourth quarter and overtime.
Geeter made a three-point play (basket and free throw) to pull River Rouge within 54-53 with 1:53 left in regulation to keep its hopes alive.
Geeter scored inside for a 65-63 lead, then took a pass from Colvin and scored a layup after River Rouge broke the press for a 70-66 cushion with 10 seconds remaining.
Donavan Freeman finished with 12 points for River Rouge which held a slim 35-34 rebounding advantage, but had a 20-13 edge on the offensive glass.
Senior point guard Derrick Bryant Jr. scored 15 for Chandler Park which also received 14 points from Andre Bradford and nine from Josh Diggs, all coming on 3-pointers.
Diggs connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner with 40 seconds remaining in regulation to give Chandler Park a 58-56 lead. Bradford made two free throws with 14 seconds left for a 60-57 lead.
But, instead of fouling, Chandler Park allowed Colvin to get off the 3-pointer.
“We’d probably foul if we’re in that situation tomorrow,” said Stone, thanking that Chandler Park didn’t this time around.
River Rouge will play Hudsonville Unity Christian (25-2) in today’s 6:45 p.m. state-championship game.
Unity Christian earned a 69-30 victory over Ludington in the other semifinal.
Hudsonville Unity Christian 69, Ludington 30
River Rouge 72, Harper Woods Chandler Park 66 (OT)