Every Tuesday, Second Half honors 2-4 athletes and a team for its accomplishments.
Have a suggestion for a future High 5? Please offer it by e-mail to [email protected]. Candidates often will have accomplished great things on the field of play -- but also will be recognized for less obvious contributions to their teams, schools or the mission of high school athletics.
Flint Beecher junior
Morris, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in both his Class C Semifinal and the championship game and had a combined 13 assists over both in helping Beecher to its first MHSAA title Saturday since 1987. Beecher beat reigning champion Schoolcraft 65-45 in a Semifinal on Thursday before downing Traverse City St. Francis 74-60 in the Final. The Buccaneers finished 28-0, becoming the 12th boys basketball team in MHSAA history to win that many games.
Up next: Morris is one of the state’s most sought-after juniors and was named The Associated Press’ Class C Player of the Year for the second straight. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game entering the final week of the season.’
I learned the most about basketball from: “Coach (Mike) Williams. I started playing with him in second grade. I just stayed in the gym and kept working hard every day.”
Besides teammates, among all the finalists at the Breslin Center, I’d most like to play with: Denzel Valentine (Lansing Sexton).
In my dream game, the four NBA guys I’d most like to play with are: “Dwight Howard down low. Then I’d have to go with Kevin Durant, Kobe (Bryan) and LeBron (James).” Where does that put you? “At the one,” Morris chuckled.
Live at Breslin Center: “I like playing on the big stage. It’s a treat. It’s a blessing that I get this opportunity, so I try to cherish it every time we get here.”
My favorite subject in school is: “I’ll have to go with chemistry/science, because it’s really not that boring. You learn about a lot of stuff.”
Lansing Sexton senior
The Associated Press Class B Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball runner-up missed triple-doubles by one and three assists, respectively, in helping the Big Reds to their second-straight Class B championship this weekend. Valentine, a 6-6 point guard, had 12 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and five steals in Sexton’s 74-59 Semifinal win over Detroit Country Day on Friday, and the next night had 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the 67-32 championship game win over Stevensville Lakeshore. He was a combined 10 of 17 shooting from the floor and made both 3-point tries over those two games. Valentine was a four-year starter for the Big Reds and came back after tearing a knee ligament as a freshman.
“When you win two state championships, it just shows the dominance and how good you are during your high school career. Winning those back-to-back championships, I was just trying to build a legacy."
Up next: Valentine has signed with Michigan State. He is unsure what he’ll major in, but is considering something in athletic training. He’ll join a Spartans team that must replace another former two-time high school champion, Saginaw’s Draymond Green. “Day Day won two basketball championships, and he helped State to two Final Fours. So hopefully I can do that too. … It’s just a winning mentality I have, and I hope it leads on to college."
I learned the most about basketball from: His father and Sexton High coach, Carlton Valentine, who also was a captain on Michigan State’s 1987-88 team.
I modeled my game after: His brother Drew Valentine, a 6-5 forward who also was an all-stater at Sexton and just finished his junior season at Oakland University.
If I could play with four others, they’d be: His Sexton teammates Bryn Forbes and Anthony “Sapp” Clemmons and the Heat’s James. “Sapp and I would just give it to LeBron and Bryn.”
Sexton boys basketball
The Big Reds get the honor this week after completing a run that has drawn comparisons to some of the best in MHSAA history. Sexton won its second-straight Class B championship in its third-straight MHSAA Final, and over the last three seasons amassed a record of 74-9. Those wins tie for sixth-most in MHSAA history over a three-year span.
The Big Reds beat all of their opponents by at least eight points and won every game during the postseason by at least 10. They finished 27-1, with that lone loss to Class A then-No. 1 Detroit Pershing.