By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING – Kevon Bey played one minute during Detroit Henry Ford’s two-game stand at Breslin Center in 2015.
But he clearly learned a few things too watching the Trojans finish their longest MHSAA Tournament run as Class B runners-up.
The 6-foot-4 senior was a little more involved this time. Bey played 29 minutes, made 10 of 12 shots for 21 points, and also grabbed eight rebounds as Henry Ford advanced again to the Class B Final with a 70-48 win over Williamston.
“I just came out trying to play for my team, playing my role,” said Bey, who’s averaged eight points and nine rebounds per game this season. “We’ve just been thinking about this since the season started, wanting to get back to playing at the Breslin.”
Henry Ford (19-6) will face Stevensville Lakeshore on Saturday in the final game of the 2015-16 season, the Class B championship game at 6:30 p.m.
The Trojans’ headliner this season has been senior guard James Towns, the leading scorer in last season’s title game loss to Wyoming Godwin Heights and the team’s leading scorer this winter at 23 points per contest.
He also was near-perfect from the field Friday, making 6 of 8 shots for 17 points. But Bey was among those who made the difference in a matchup that otherwise pitted two of Class B’s best guards.
Williamston senior Riley Lewis had a game-high 32 points and scored his team’s first 16. That was a tough way to keep up, as Ford built its lead to 10 points after five minutes and got it up to 28 near the end of the third quarter.
“We had scripts for the whole run of every team we played, and tonight they kinda flipped the script,” said Williamston interim coach Tom Lewis, who guided the team after coach Jason Bauer began cancer treatments earlier this month. “We knew we couldn’t play a certain style, and tonight they got going too quickly. The game got away from us, and we weren’t able to get it into the third quarter.
“We knew if we got it there, we’re pretty comfortable playing in close games and kind of have a recipe to close out. But they were too tough tonight.”
The Trojans scored 20 of their first 43 points of turnovers in building a 20-point third quarter lead.
Williamston (21-4) had downed an impressive slate of opponents during its run including three ranked among the top six in Class B, and the Hornets entered the postseason ranked No. 10. But the difference in Henry Ford was its experience. Four seniors started, with Towns and forward Alston Hunter back in the lineup after starting during Ford’s Breslin run a year ago.
“Just how hard they played, you could tell they were a tight team,” Riley Lewis said. “They stick together, and they’re experienced. And they got out here tonight and the show wasn’t too big for them. They looked like they had been there before, and they were ready. They threw some hard punches, and we couldn’t counter.”
Senior Jeremy Crawley added 14 points and five rebounds for Henry Ford, and Hunter had eight points and six rebounds.
Ford’s championship game berth in 2015 was the program’s first, so the Trojans again will play for their first title – and after again relying on a lesson from the first trip.
“Last year when we won, I thought the guys had really high emotions. People have got to understand there’s one more game,” Ford coach Kenneth Flowers said. “The first time Henry Ford had been to state championship (was) last year, and there were a lot of emotions back in our hotel room the night of. (So we have to) keep these guys humble, grounded, understanding it’s unfinished business.”
The Boys Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System.
PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Henry Ford’s James Towns (5) pushes past Williamston’s Cole Kleiver during Friday’s Class B Semifinal. (Middle) The Hornets’ Riley Lewis (22) looked for an opening with Towns defending.
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.)