By Dean Holzwarth
Special to Second Half
EAST GRAND RAPIDS – Before Saturday afternoon’s MHSAA Division 2 Final, the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood boys lacrosse team had lost five games by one goal.
The Cranes reversed that trend in the most important game of the season, and celebrated the program’s first title since 2006 with a 10-9 win over defending champion Forest Hills Central at East Grand Rapids’ Memorial Field.
Cranbrook-Kingswood junior Matthew Giampetroni scored the game winner with 20.2 seconds left in regulation to snap a 9-9 tie.
“We’ve played a lot of one-goal games this year, so we were used to playing in these games,” Giampetroni said. “I think we learned a lot from those tough losses we had earlier in the year. We were confident.”
The Cranes suffered heartbreaking defeats against Detroit U-D Jesuit, Detroit Country Day, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Detroit Catholic Central and Clarkston.
“Losing all those one-goal games, we learned a lot, especially the overtime ones,” Cranbrook-Kingswood coach Mat Wilson said. “If it had stayed tied and went to overtime, I think from those experiences, we would’ve been in good shape.”
The Cranes got a bit of redemption against Forest Hills Central after being routed 15-5 in the final regular-season game.
The rematch played out much differently.
“We were tired that game, they took it to us early and we struggled a little bit on that day,” Giampetroni said. “That was on our minds, and we wanted to prove we could play with them. They are a strong team, and I think the best team we’ve played, but we played well today and got the win.”
Giampetroni’s goal, which trickled past goalie Kyrn Stoddard, stemmed a late Rangers’ charge.
Forest Hills Central rallied from a 9-6 deficit with fewer than seven minutes remaining in the fourth period.
A goal by Forest Hills Central’s Neil Cunnigham tied it at 9-9.
“We got it close and had some momentum, but it was squashed with that goal with 20 seconds left,” Rangers coach Tony Quinn said. “Our goalie made a nice play on it, but the momentum of the shot carried it over.”
Said Giampetroni: “I saw it go over the goal line, and I was hoping they saw what I was seeing. I was excited, but I needed to contain it because we still had 20 seconds left and we needed to finish it.”
Wilson said the parity of the division was evident in the Finals.
“We could’ve easily shown up today and they could’ve beaten us 15-5 again; they are that good,” he said. “But that’s what is cool about this year. Everybody had a chance at this thing going into it.”
Forest Hills Central (17-4) was aiming to defend its MHSAA championship from last season, when it beat Detroit Country Day 7-6 for the program’s third title.
Instead, the Rangers were handed their second loss in a Final. They finished runner-up to East Grand Rapids in 2008.
“It’s our goal every year (to win an MHSAA championship), and we tied it up with a minute to go and we had the ball,” Quinn said. “We felt like it was going to be our day, and it wasn’t. It’s hard, and it’s going to take us a while to get over it.
“Credit to Cranbrook, they played great today, and hopefully this will give us some incentive to get after it again next year.”
FHC fell behind 3-0 in the first period, but scored three straight goals in a span of two minutes to pull ahead 5-4.
Cranbrook-Kingswood answered with its own run to end the half, and the Rangers trailed 7-5.
The Rangers had an opportunity to send the game to overtime in the waning seconds, but misfired on a high shot as the clock ticked away.
“They are an explosive offensive team, and even with 10 seconds we knew we had to lock down defensively and focus,” Wilson said.
Two of Forest Hills Central’s three losses were against teams from Indiana. Its lone in-state loss before Saturday was to East Grand Rapids.
PHOTO: Cranbrook-Kingswood's Jason Miller (11) circles the goal while the Rangers give chase Saturday.
The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.
The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.
The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.
Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.
Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.
The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.