Venerable Detroit Country Day boys’ basketball coach Kurt Keener knew if top ranked Lansing Sexton played its “A” game his Yellowjackets were in trouble.
The Big Reds showed just enough flashes of their “A” game to post a ho-hum 74-59 Class B semifinal win Friday night at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
“It’s a win but wins are not always pretty,” said Sexton boys basketball coach Carlton Valentine. “We were not the smartest team offensively tonight, but our guys made plays when they needed to.”
The Big Reds 26th win of the year secured their place in Sexton’s third consecutive state championship game. The defending champions will battle Lakeshore-Stevensville, a winner over Muskegon Heights.
“I had not seen Lakeshore prior to tonight. They are a very good, well-coached, good shooting basketball team,” Valentine said. “They have great length and use it to pressure the ball both in the full and half court.”
Country Day forced Sexton into 19 turnovers. “All year long we’ve won with defensive pressure. Our hustle has created loose balls,” Keener said. “Sexton, however, gets the ball out so quickly. They have five guys on the floor capable of going to the basket. They look like a team on a mission.”
The Big Reds showed glimpses of that when Country Day looked to challenge. Trailing 5-2 to start the game, Sexton slapped a 14-0 run on the Yellowjackets to take a 16-5 lead.
Detroit Country day narrowed the margin to four (19-15) early in the second quarter, only to see Sexton unleash another 14-0 run to expand its lead to 33-15.
The Yellowjackets narrowed a 14-point halftime deficit to seven to start the third quarter, however, the Big Reds answered with a 12-4 burst to begin the final stanza, building up a 64-49 advantage.
“I am hard on these guys, but I’m proud of the work they’ve put in and I’m excited for them to be playing in their third straight state championship game,” Valentine explained.
Anthony Clemmons led all scorers with 21 points for the Big Reds. Teammate Bryn Forbes netted 19 while Denzel Valentine and Jalen Hayes each contributed with 12 points apiece.
Robert Puleikis led Country Day with 16 points.
Filed under: Lansing Sexton