EAST LANSING – Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for experience.
Such was the case in Thursday’s second Division 4 Boys Basketball Semifinal between Wyoming Tri-unity Christian and Genesee Christian at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
While Tri-unity Christian was in the Semifinals for a second-straight year and fourth time in the last seven years, Genesee Christian was playing on the stage for the first time.
Tri-unity Christian’s familiarity with Breslin and overall skill won out, as the Defenders reached another championship game with a 77-33 win.
The Defenders (20-6) will attempt to win their first Finals title since 2011 at 10 a.m. Saturday when they play Ewen-Trout Creek.
“If you haven’t been there, it can be pretty intimidating,” Tri-unity coach Mark Keeler said of playing in a final four game. “Last year, we came here. It helped us for this year.”
The big quarter for Tri-unity Christian was the second, as the Defenders went on a 12-0 run to start the quarter and take a 26-12 lead with 5:54 remaining until halftime.
Tri-unity Christian ended up outscoring Genesee Christian in the second quarter, 25-7, to take a 39-19 lead at the break.
The Defenders continued to grow their lead in the third quarter, going on an 8-0 run to move ahead 53-23 with 1:11 remaining in the third.
The game featured a matchup of two of the state’s top point guards in Division 4, Tri-unity Christian senior Brady Titus and Genesee Christian junior Trenton Boike.
Titus entered the game averaging just under 30 points a game, while Boike was averaging over 23 points a contest.
Titus finished with a game-high 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting for the Defenders, while Boike had seven points for the Soldiers (21-5).
Now, Titus and the Defenders can try and earn some redemption after a loss to Detroit Douglass in last year’s championship game.
“Last year was tough,” Titus said. “We came up short. But I think it will impact the want to win. That’s really what it is. Just having the drive to win the next game.”
Tri-unity Christian shot 58.3 percent from the field for the game and outrebounded Genesee Christian by a 41-19 margin.
Junior Tyler Chapman led Genesee Christian with 10 points.
Despite the loss, it was obviously a memorable and historic season for Genesee Christian.
“For the guys, I felt so proud of them,” Genesee Christian coach Dan Chapman said. “With COVID and everything the last couple of years, we kind of looked forward to this group. To do it with all the seniors that I’ve coached since fifth grade, it was everything you’ve dreamed of.”
More good news for the Soldiers is that Boike and Chapman will headline a nice crop of juniors that will be back next year.
“Just the experience part will help a lot,” Boike said. “It will help us next year when we get back here.”
PHOTOS (Top) Tri-unity Christian’s Brady Titus (25) works to get up a shot over Genesee Christian’s Jonah Derderian (24) during Thursday’s Semifinal. (Middle) Teammates watch in anticipation as the Defenders’ Stephen Bouslog (24) attempts a 3-pointer. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)