MANCELONA — The first district basketball title in 19 years earned the East Jordan Red Devils a police escort back into town Friday night.
East Jordan held off Lake Michigan Conference champion Boyne City 44-42 to capture the Class C district crown at Mancelona. The Ramblers (20-2) had three shots in the closing seconds, but could not convert.
“It’s crazy,” Red Devils coach Darrin Weber said. “I’m speechless.”
East Jordan (17-4) lost to Boyne City twice in the regular season — by one point and in overtime.
“Our four losses are by a combined 11 points,” Weber said. “It’s funny. We played them at Lake Superior State this summer for the camp championship. They didn’t have (Corey) Redman or Maceo (Vroman), but we beat them by one point. Every time we play them it’s been tight.”
The Red Devils were coming off a last-second overtime win over Charlevoix on Wednesday.
“That was a battle with Charlevoix,” Weber said. “We’ve been talking about taking it one game at a time and the kids have been living by that.”
Noah Bacchus, who scored the game-winning basket to beat Charlevoix, led the Red Devils with 16 points Friday. Donnie Cutler added 10.
Redman paced Boyne City with 16.
“We played great team defense tonight,” Weber said. “That was the difference in the game. The first time we played they beat us up inside. The second time they hit eight 3-pointers on us. Tonight, we did a great job shutting down both.”
East Jordan last won a district in 1995 and last played in one in 2007.
“Charlevoix beat us up pretty good (in 2007),” Weber said.
The Charlevoix coach then, Keith Haske, is now at St. Francis, Monday’s opponent in the regional.
“Haske’s a veteran at this,” Weber said. “This is new territory for us. But we’ve played well against them twice this year.”