Southfield Christian Takes Back D Title

March 24, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – After three seasons away, Southfield Christian returned to the Class D championship game Saturday.

And for the fourth time in seven seasons, the Eagles added their school to the list of MHSAA title winners as well, with a 64-54 clincher over Buckley at the Breslin Center.

The title was the program’s first since winning three straight from 2012-14, and after falling by a point in last season’s Semifinals to eventual champion Powers North Central.

“It just means a lot for us as a team,” said Eagles senior Bryce Washington, whose older brothers Blake and Brock both were part of past champions. “It puts us on the map. The last few years, people were like, ‘Whatever happened to Southfield Christian?’ We were still in the gym, still working, still a great team. It’s just great to be back here.”

Southfield Christian (23-4) showed all weekend it could get rolling in a hurry. Starting at the 5:57 mark of the first quarter Saturday, over the next 2:41 the Eagles went from a point down to 10 up. Junior Harlond Beverly scored 10 points, had a steal, two rebounds and a blocked shot. He made six of his first seven shots from the floor total in scoring his team’s first 11 points and 11 of the Eagles’ first 14.

“I didn’t even notice it was the first 11 points. I was just trying to play basketball and do what I do,” Beverly said. “The rim, it feels as big as the ocean. It was feeling good.”

Beverly finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, eight steals, six blocks and four assists.

“He brought a lot of energy, a lot of effort, and he can make great plays in transition and get us an easy one,” Southfield Christian coach Josh Baker said. “We struggled the rest of the game. His start, that was the game.”

The Eagles did have to fend off a second-half comeback attempt by Buckley, which returned to Breslin this weekend with the entire starting five that made it to last season’s championship game before falling 78-69 to North Central.

Southfield Christian pushed its lead to 22 on another Beverly basket with 4:27 to play in the second quarter, but the Bears came back with a 19-3 run over the next six minutes to cut the deficit to 38-32 two minutes into the third.

The Eagles pushed the lead back to 12 during the opening minute of the fourth quarter, and the Bears couldn’t get it back into single digits.

“We just never give up,” Buckley senior Denver Cade said. “We were in the same position last year, but it was a bigger margin. I just kept trying to pound that into (my teammates). I wasn’t having the best game myself, and I’ll probably regret that the rest of my life … but I tried to be a leader and put that motivation into them.”

Cade finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Joey Weber led with 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals, and senior forward Austin Harris added 15 points and seven rebounds. All three were four-year varsity players and 1,000-point career scorers. “I’m missing them already,” Buckley coach Blair Moss said.

“We’re a little disappointed; the kids played their hearts out,” Moss added. “That’s a quality team out there. There’s not much to say. The kids worked their butts off, and they’ve been doing it for the last 10 years to get here. … We don’t see teams like that up north; let’s face it. They play in a Detroit league, they play up, and that’s why we try to play up to match that.”

Buckley (21-6) shared the Northwest Conference title this season with Frankfort and Maple City Glen Lake; the latter reached Saturday’s Class C championship game.

Southfield Christian won the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue and also played a nonleague schedule loaded with Class A and B opponents, including Class B semifinalist River Rouge, plus Class C finalist Detroit Edison.

“Part of the deal with our program and our mentality as a coaching staff is how do we get our guys better with every opportunity,” Baker said. “We want to play the best competition whenever we can.”

Junior guard Caleb Hunter added 13 points including four 3-pointers for Southfield Christian. Washington had 12 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore guard Da’Jion Humphrey had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Buckley finished 74-25 over the last four seasons, including 47-7 over the last two.

“Last year we said we have another crack at it, and now we don’t, of course,” Harris said. “But I wouldn’t want to trade these guys for anything. They worked hard and they helped me work hard and build my character up.

“A lot of people dream of losing their last high school game at the Breslin, and I got to share in that.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Southfield Christian’s Harlond Beverly works to get past Buckley’s Brock Beeman during the Class D championship game. (Middle) The Bears’ Joey Weber goes up for a shot at the Breslin Center.

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.