Mike Williams had brought Flint Beecher to the MHSAA Semifinals at Michigan State's Breslin Center at the end of both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, and also coached the team that made the Class C Final in 2008. All three times the Buccaneers had to settle with great runs, but losses to end them.
But not Saturday.
Beecher and Williams capped one of the best season's in MHSAA history, becoming the 12th team to finish with 28 wins and claiming the Class C championship. Beecher finished with a perfect record, and the championship was the Bucs' first since claiming the Class B title in 1987.
Williams graduated from Grand Blanc High in 1994 before then getting degrees at Ferris State and Eastern Michigan University. He's led Beecher to a 138-61 record over the last eight seasons, and had some powerful things to say after Saturday's win, both about the Bucs' legacy but also about what the win could mean to the entire Flint community.
"I’m just overwhelmed with excitement. Very humbled by this entire process, by this entire season, by the way our kids performed. Just fortunate to be a part of this. We put in a lot of work to get here. It feels unbelievable. I really can’t describe it with words.
"I know we did everything the right way. And we worked from the ground up"
This is the third time in school history (Beecher) finished with an undefeated season. You yopped the last two teams by one game. How does it feel for you guys to do this?
"It’s incredible. The only thing that I can say is we’ve got the full support of all the Beecher alumni, all the supporters that came out. … Everybody was pulling for us to do this. Like I said, it’s humbling to be considered and to be known right up there with all those great teams that have played in the past at Beecher. And to add to the legacy of Beecher, that’s the main thing.
With all things you guys have been through up to this point, not even just basketball, but off the court, on the court, talk about the feeling you guys have to be able to finish it on top and be able to celebrate a victory.
"I think with the things that our kids have gone through and the things our community has gone through, for me this is more than about basketball. This is about these kids' lives. I feel like I’m their father. The toughest part is that this is over. I won’t get to coach Antuan (Burks) anymore. I won’t get to coach Montana (Gooch) anymore. These are like my sons. I put more into their lives than into basketball. We revert everything back to their lives.
"Because you’re looking at some kids that overcome some things that you can never imagine. For them to make it here and accomplish this, it's setting a standard for all the kids in our city that we don’t have to act up. We can achieve. We can be successful. Because too many bad things are going on in our city, and I want these kids to be representatives of our city, of their generation turning around and being positive. And that’s been the biggest thing. It’s been about their lives. For them to accomplish this, it doesn’t even compare to the things they’ve overcome in their lives.
"So we just want to bring it back home and show everybody we can be successful. We don’t have to be in the streets. We don’t have to do things that are getting written about in paper that Flint is known for. Let’s get back to being successful. And our community and the whole Flint area, everybody supported us. Not just Beecher. That’s what I’m more proud of -- that we get to bring some positive attention to our area."