Consortium Closes In on Fantastic Finish

March 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – The memory of coach Al Anderson is not far from Detroit Consortium as it attempts to win its first MHSAA boys basketball championship this weekend.

The Cougars just missed making it to Breslin Center in 2013, falling to eventual Class C champion Flint Beecher by two in their Quarterfinal. But Consortium is now one more win from finishing the quest it began when Anderson died unexpectedly last February.

Three players scored 18 or more points as the Cougars downed Negaunee 69-54 in Thursday’s Semifinal to advance to Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. championship game against Pewamo-Westphalia.

Consortium, ranked No. 2 at the end of the regular season, has now beaten the rest of the top three this week, having downed top-ranked Mount Clemens on Tuesday before eliminating the No. 3 Miners.

“We knew we had to win for (Anderson last year). We came back playing harder, with more intensity, just playing as a team,” Consortium senior Ronald Booth said. “We were heart-broken last year not getting it done. But we’re here this year, and we plan on finishing it.”

“We’ve been fighting for this state championship for the last four years,” senior Malik Dawson added, “and we’re going to win it.”

Although Consortium (24-2) is playing in its first MHSAA Final on Saturday, the Semifinal was its second in four seasons and followed its third Quarterfinal over the last four years.

Former Deaborn Edsel Ford standout Tobias Tuomi took over the Consortium program this winter and inherited not only arguably the state’s best player – 6-foot-8 sophomore wing Joshua Jackson – but a group of scorers around him that have made the Cougars even tougher to stop.

Jackson had 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and five steals Thursday. But sophomore guard Luster Johnson added 20 points and senior Rudy Smith scored a game-high 22 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“We needed to really keep the other guys down. You look at Rudy Smith, Luster Johnson, that killed us,” Negaunee coach Michael O’Donnell said. “We needed to keep everybody else (but Jackson) under 10. When they got up to 20 plus, that was a big hurt for us.”

Consortium led only 12-11 after the first quarter. But the Cougars turned that lead into nine points halfway through the second quarter and 14 by halftime.

They shot 54 percent from the floor for the game, with an incredible 65 percent success rate during the second half.

It matched with what Consortium has done all season. Booth, Smith and Johnson also average at least 10 points per game, and eight players have had high games of at least that many points.

“We’ve had six or seven guys all year, pretty consistently,” Tuomi said of his team’s scoring balance. “Josh will be up there as one of our leading scorers, but we’ve got seven or eight really talented guys, and all of them have had a game where they’ve been the leading or second-leading scorers. It’s something you expect.”

Negaunee (24-2) has been a picture of consistency as well over the last four seasons, making the Quarterfinals at the end of all of them and the Semifinals the last two.

Senior guard Tyler Jandron was a constant on those teams and finished his four-year varsity career with 12 points. Senior Eric Lori, another top scorer on the last couple Miners teams, had 11 points. Sophomore forward Jay Lori led with 14 points and seven rebounds.

“We started something. Just getting here, making it twice, is unbelievable,” Jandron said. “But it’s tough losing this. I want to push myself to the limit, and tonight we came up short.

“We talked to our underclassmen about what these seniors did for us, and we’re going to miss them,” O’Donnell added. “At the same time, we wanted to take the time to thank them and make sure they understand we appreciate what they did for us.”

Click for the full box score and video from the press conference

PHOTO: (Top) Detroit Consortium’s Joshua Jackson (11) dunks as Negaunee’s Robert Loy gives chase Thursday. (Middle) Negaunee's Tyler Jandron looks for an opening while defended by Consortium's Rudy Smith.

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Joshua Jackson blocks the shot, Detroit Consortium goes on the fast break and Kenneth Turner lobs to Jackson for the dunk to finish the play late in the first half. (2) Jay Lori of Negaunee takes a pass from Zane Radloff and powers to the basket for two to pull the Miners to within a point at the end of the first quarter.

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.