As we head into the final week of the boys state basketball tournament, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Here are a few of my all-time tournament favorites:
BEST LOCAL TEAM: The 1977 Glen Lake team that upset top-ranked Detroit East Catholic to win the Class D title at Crisler Arena. East Catholic was heavily favored. In fact, the year previous, Detroit St. Martin dePorres whipped a good Harbor Springs team by 17 points in the finals and I think a lot of people expected this one to go that way, too. Exciting finish with Geoff Kotila sinking two free throws with one second left to bring the championship to Leelanau County. lt was a Hoosiers-like moment.
MOST HEART-WRENCHING LOSS: Bellaire’s 71-68 overtime setback to Detroit Rogers in the 2005 Class D title game. The Eagles had the ball and a 68-67 lead with under four seconds left. But Rogers freshman Eric Evans stole an inbounds pass and almost instantaneously launched a 3-point shot from the corner that went in. He was fouled on the play, too, and hit the free throw. You can still watch that final four seconds on You Tube. It was a crushing loss, although the Eagles handled it admirably during the post-game interviews.
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE: How about Sander Scott’s 39-point effort in Northport’s 80-78 Class D championship win over Beal City in 1988? Scott hit eight 3-pointers and was 15-of-24 from the field. He fouled out with 2:52 remaining, but Dan Stowe stepped in and became the hero, scoring with three seconds left to snap a tie. That’s what made that Northport team so good. Although Scott was the leader, Dan Stowe, Jason Stowe, Jason Korson and Freddie Thomas all had huge moments, huge games in that tournament run.
BEST TEAM TO NOT GET OUT OF A DISTRICT: Let’s stick with 1988. Glen Lake had beaten Northport during the season and had the talent to make a long tournament run, if not win a state title. But Jason Stowe hit a dramatic shot at the buzzer to give Northport the win in front of a large crowd at Traverse City Central and send the Wildcats on their way. Benzie Central’s upset of unbeaten and top-ranked Manton in a 1997 Class C district opener ranks up there, too. Manton had played in the 1996 state final and had visions of a return trip.
MOST DOMINATING PLAYER: Not even close. Dan Majerle. He could not be stopped his senior season, averaging 37.5 points and 16 rebounds a game. No team could handle him inside. He played in the days before the Internet and I don’t think people downstate realized just how good he was even though the Trojans played in the Lake Michigan Athletic Conference with teams like Benton Harbor and Muskegon. He totally took over the regional that year in Grand Rapids. It took a good Flint Central team with Darryl Johnson (Michigan State) and Ervin Leavy (his future teammate at Central Michigan) to knock the Trojans out. Flint Central won a third consecutive state title that year.