By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING – Detroit Consortium’s boys basketball team fell in a 2011 Semifinal to eventual Class C champion Schoolcraft. A year later, the Cougars’ season ended with a two-point Regional Final loss to eventual title winner Flint Beecher.
Joshua Jackson was watching – but couldn’t help. He was still in junior high.
But the now-sophomore decided then that when he was old enough, he’d play a part in the Cougars' first MHSAA title.
Consortium entered this postseason ranked No. 2 in the final Class C poll. With the 6-foot-8 Jackson leading and surrounded by a talented a cast, the Cougars eliminated No. 1 Mount Clements and No. 3 Negaunee this week and finished with a 61-44 championship game win over No. 10 Pewamo-Westphalia on Saturday at the Breslin Center.
“Playing with most of the guys last year, I always had trust in them,” Jackson said. “I just had something to prove, and they wanted to win just like I did.
“To prove so many people wrong, I know maybe one person picked us to win (over Mount Clemens). I guess they thought overall their team was better than ours. (But) I think we’ve proved people wrong all year winning big games.”
Consortium beat some of the best in finishing 25-2 this winter.
The Cougars also defeated No. 5 Detriot Allen in their Regional Final, plus ranked Class A Saginaw Arthur Hill, Romulus and Detroit Southeastern, ranked Class B Detroit Country Day and Detroit Douglass, an MHSAA semifinalist in that class.
And that’s some of what coach Tobias Tuomi reminded his players when Consortium led Pewamo-Westphalia only 27-25 in the championship game.
“We just said to cherish the moment. I told them to appreciate all the work, and it is a heck of an opportunity just to be here,” Tuomi said. “But we didn’t come here to be here. We came to win a state championship. To do that, we’d have to do all the little things we do in practice, things that won us games all season.”
P-W (23-3) was doing them to keep pace during the first half and up until taking a 34-32 lead three minutes into the third quarter. Despite trailing by 11 at the end of the first period, the Pirates drew even heading into the final minute of the first half before senior guard Rudy Smith hit a go-ahead basket to give Consortium the two-point lead at the break.
But after senior Evan Fedewa’s 3-pointer gave the Pirates that third-quarter advantage, Consortium outscored them 19-3 to take a 51-37 lead with 6:50 to play.
Consortium’s defense tightened and P-W’s shooting percentage fell – from 43 percent from the floor during the first half to 32 percent in the second. Meanwhile, the Cougars upped their offensive output, improving from 42 percent from the floor to 63 over the final two quarters. Senior guard Ronald Booth, in particular, scored 12 of his 14 points during the second half to finish as one of three Consortium players in double figures.
“We just dug down, got a little more focused,” Tuomi said. “Definitely, (P-W was) taking a lot tougher shots.”
Smith also finished with 14 points for Consortium. Jackson led with 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting – including hitting all three of his 3-point attempts, and also grabbed 13 rebounds.
“For the old guys like me, I saw Earvin Johnson play here at (Lansing) Everett, and I had season tickets when he was (at Michigan State). He’s a similar type of player to him,” P-W coach Luke Pohl said of Jackson. “Whether he’s going to become that kind of player is another story, but he’s really talented. He might be the most talented person our teams have played against. He can see the court real well, passes well … and he’s a really humble kid.”
Senior center Lane Simon scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds for P-W, and senior guard Nick Spitzley finished a four-year varsity career with 10 points and three assists.
They and nine seniors total brought the Pirates to their first championship game since 1993. Pohl – who graduated from P-W in 1976 and has coached over two tenures since 1995 – called this the best team in school history. It definitely highlighted the Pirates a little more prominently on the statewide basketball map.
“Obviously I wanted to achieve the state championship,” Simon said. “But it feels like we got a lot of respect back."
Consortium did make the Quarterfinals with Jackson last season, again falling by two to Beecher as the Buccaneers went on to repeat as champions. But that was impressive in itself – the Cougars continued on although coach Al Anderson died unexpectedly that February.
The run also set the stage for things to come.
“We wanted to sit and sob and cry about it, but at the end of the day we knew that what he wanted was for us to win a state championship more than anything,” Jackson said. “So we knew that was something that we had to do.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Consortium’s Rudy Smith pushes down the floor as Pewamo-Westphalia’s Nick Spitzley gives chase during the Class C Final. (Middle) The Pirates’ Lane Simon goes strong to the basket for two of his game-high 23 points.
HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Joshua Jackson follows a miss with a big dunk for Detroit Consortium in the fourth quarter of its Class C championship game against Pewamo-Westphalia. Jackson finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds in leading his team to the win. (2) Some nice passing by Pewamo-Westphalia sets up Evan Fedewa for a 3-pointer to give the Pirates a 34-32 lead in the third quarter against Detroit Consortium in the Class C title game.
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)