Guards Answer Call for Country Day

March 23, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Before Saturday’s MHSAA Class B Final, Kurt Keener challenged guards Edmond Sumner, Mory Diane and Austin Price to carry Detroit Country Day to one more win.

In the recent past, Keener might’ve asked something similar of guys like 6-foot-11 Amir Williams or 7-0 Da’Shonte Riley. But this was not like most teams Keener has coached to 678 wins over the last 35 seasons.

Of course, Country Day has had outstanding guards lately as well – Ray McCallum and Kenny Knight keyed the 2010 title run – but it’s been a while since a Yellowjackets team has been this guard-driven.

But as they’ve done all season, the trio was ready to answer. Price had 15 points, Sumner 13 and an ill Diane seven in just 16 minutes as Country Day survived its closest game of the tournament to defeat Detroit Community 57-49 and earn its ninth MHSAA championship.

“We’re used to it. With our hard work in practice, we knew what to do when we came down the stretch,” Edmond said. “It was nothing new to us.”

But a title is to this group. Although Price played in Semifinals the last two seasons and Diane joined him in the starting lineup in 2012, none had played in a championship game before facing Community, located just 10 miles south of the Yellowjackets’ campus.

Country Day (25-3) was the favorite coming in to the tournament as the top-ranked team in the final Associated Press poll. But Community (18-10) proved to be much closer in ability than the teams’ records indicated.

Much has been mentioned during the tournament of the tough schedules both played during the regular season, and particularly of the ranked Class A teams that handed Community a few losses but also pointed the Hurricanes down the path toward their first championship game.

Although Country Day led by a handful of points for most of the final three quarters, Community tied the score 36 seconds into the fourth.

“Sports at times, you’ve got to just dig deep and make a stop. I just kept saying, ‘one more,’” Keener said. “I asked Mory at one point at halftime, ‘Can you give us one or two plays?’ One or two plays in a game like this make all the difference in the world.”

Diane made the jumper that put Country Day back ahead 46-44 with 7:09 to play. Price hit six free throws and Sumner a pair down the stretch as the Yellowjackets finally pulled away for good.

But not until the final minute did it feel like Community had run out of comeback opportunities.

Country Day broke 100 points twice but scored fewer than 62 points only once before Saturday. The Hurricanes outshot the Yellowjackets 41 percent to 39 and had only one fewer rebound. The difference came in part at the free throw line, where Country Day made 20 of 26 tries and Community made only 9 of 16.

“The pressure bothered us a little bit. … If we made some free throws and layups, I think we’re right there,” Community coach Venias Jordan, Jr., said. “This is right where we wanted it. Going into the game, I told (my players) if we keep them 55ish, we had a chance to win.”

But Country Day and especially 6-foot-4 sophomore Deshawn Thomas also did well in limiting South Florida recruit Byron Zeigler. The 6-6 senior had 17 points Friday, but only nine on five shots in the Final.

“They made it pretty hard for us to get in our spots on offense, made it tough for us in the post,” Zeigler said. “They fronted us, double-teamed us, trapped us. They did everything possible to make us uncomfortable so we couldn’t get into our sweet spots.”

Senior forward Jerrell Martin led Community with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Thomas had six points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench for the Yellowjackets.

Click for a full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Country Day's Maurice Ways (22) and his teammates rush the floor after the Yellowjackets clinched the Class B title Saturday. (Middle) Country Day's Austin Price (14) and Community's Landie Davis go for a loose ball during the championship game. (Click to see more at

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.