Three Out Of Four. Beecher On Top Again In Class C

29 Mar

IMG_0343Mission accomplished.  Beecher completed their journey of winning three of the last four Class C state titles.  The latest, a 78-52 onslaught of Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian.

The game was decided in the opening eight minutes.  The Bucs outscored the Mustangs 28-9 in the first quarter, and the lead would never shrink down below single digits.

Three state titles in four years.  What’s the key to Beecher’s success? Preparation.

“We don’t think about losing,” said Beecher head coach Mike Williams.  “We prepare to win, and we don’t prepare to lose.  We set a standard that we want to win championships.  It’s important that these kids know how to set goals.”

It has been a playoff run of pure dominance by Beecher.  The single closest game in the post-season was 18 points.  A key to the Bucs’ ability to obtain large leads is their half-court press, which was used again today.  Not only does the press effect teams in the back-court, but if opponents are fortunate to break the press, it stifles their game plan offensively.  NorthPointe shot just 26.7% in the first half, and 30.9 percent in the game, 17-55 overall.

“Pressuring the basketball and putting them (NPC) in situations they haven’t been in before,” Williams added.  “I didn’t see where they got pressured a whole lot, not for an entire game.  I felt comfortable us throwing to the first punch, getting in their face, and not allowing them to come down and do what they wanted to do.”

Williams held high praise for Mustang senior guard Preston Huckaby.  Huckaby serves as NPC’s primary ball handler and scorer.  Preston scored 26 points the game prior in the semi-finals.  Against Beecher, 3-8 for 10 total points.

“Other guys were going to have to make decisions that weren’t use to making decisions,” Williams said.  “So that’s what we wanted to do.”

The Bucs concluded with advantages in the paint, 44 points, off turnovers 18-6, second chance points 14-9, and fast break points 12-0.  Beecher received just six points from their bench, but who needs a bench when your starting five is as a cohesive starting five in the state regardless of class.

Cedric Moten led the way with 24 points, Samuel Toins was 5-10 from beyond the arch for 17 points, Aquavius Burks added 15 points and 11 rebounds, sophomore forward LeVane Blake and six points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore floor general Malik Ellison contributed 10 points and four assists.

Arguably the best player in Buc history was ’13 point guard Monte Morris, winner of two state titles, and currently a starter for Iowa State.  When Morris graduated, the question was, who will be starting at point guard?  The answer, a freshman, 5’7″ Malik Ellison.  With Monte in the stands for the final game and keeping tracks on the season, Malik delivered.

“I take my hat off to Malik,” Williams had of his point guard.  “To step in as a freshman, after Monte Morris.  And he struggled at times last year, in the quarterfinal game I sat him down.  But I never gave up on him and this year he improved so much, and the one things I challenged him to do was do something Monte didn’t do, win a state championship game as a sophomore, lead your team, set the table.  I’m so proud of him the way he has matured, and he’s just a joy to coach.”

Factually speaking Beecher is a community just north of Flint, with a separate school district of their own.  Although the community is not technically Flint, Beecher is often thrown under the same fire when discussing the issues that have plagued Flint for years and Michigan overall.  With the program’s sixth state title, Williams is optimistic about what the future holds for both the program and community, for example simple things like a track for the high school.

“It’s a big old family,” Williams said of the community.  “And it really trickles down to the team.”  “It (title) means everyone to the community.  We just built a track, Beecher hadn’t had a track in 40 years, and I like to think our success had a little bit to do with that.”

With three of five starters returning for next years, the Bucs will be the odds on favorite to repeat.  But Williams doesn’t look ahead nor does he want his kids to.  He tries to instill life-long messages of positivity into his players to prepare them not only on the court, but in life.

“The one thing they get from me, that end of discipline, that end of structure.  In life it’s going to be competition, you have to be ready to compete, you have to know how to prepare,” Williams said.  “You got to have to have an edge, you got to have a chip on your shoulder, that’s they way I prepared these guys.”

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