“I think our schedule really helped us in the fourth,” Defenders coach Mark Keeler said. “We play a lot of very competitive games, so our guys are used to being in tough situations in the fourth quarter.”
Vega hit five of six free-throw attempts in the fourth, which he said was unusual for him.
“I’ve struggled all year from the line, but I felt really comfortable in the fourth quarter,” he said. “I got a couple layups, and that built my confidence enough to knock them down.”
Joey Blauwkamp added 16 for the Defenders (25-2), while Walden had 20 for Fulton.The championship was Tri-Unity Christian’s third in five title-game appearances since 2002.
A year ago, Lansing Sexton appeared to have blown their best chance at ending a 50-year championship drought.
The Big Reds had made it to the championship game only to get routed 71-47 by Detroit Country Day in the Class B final. This year, they were back in the final and pushing for a better outcome.
They got it.
Senior forward Tyrin Wade scored 18 points Saturday to give Lansing Sexton its first state title since 1960 with a 75-60 victory over Muskegon Heights at the Breslin Center.
Muskegon Heights (21-7) lost in the championship game for the third time since 2003. Deontae Hudson and Juwon Martin led the team with 16 points apiece.
“This was clearly Lansing Sexton’s time — we just lost to a better team tonight,” Muskegon Heights coach Keith Guy said.
Detroit Southeastern has gone 85 years without a basketball championship.
On Saturday, they were just 13 minutes away.
The Jungaleers led 28-16 with five minutes to go in Saturday’s Class A championship game, but Kalamazoo Central stormed back to defend their championship with a 46-42 victory Saturday at Michigan State.
“I just can’t believe the will these kids have to win,” Kalamazoo Central coach Michael Thomas said. “I challenged them a little at halftime, and they responded.”
Southeastern (23-4) was trying to win the championship for the first time since back-to-back victories in 1925 and 1926.
“You match intensity with intensity — that’s what my coach always told me — but we didn’t do that,” Southeastern coach George Ward said.
Two years ago, an eighth-grader sat in the Breslin Center stands and watched Schoolcraft lose the Class C championship game to Melvindale AB&T.
On Saturday, Luke Ryskamp, now a sophomore at Schoolcraft, led the undefeated Eagles to a 73-59 victory over McBain in the championship game.
Ryskamp finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds and was congratulated after the game by fomer MSU star Mateen Cleaves.
“He told me I looked like a good player, but that I needed to live in the gym and keep working,” Ryskamp said.
Ryskamp ended the story there at the post-game press conference, but his coach and teammates wouldn’t let it rest.
“Tell the rest of the story,” said Eagles coach Randy Small.
Only then did Ryskamp admit that he hadn’t known who Cleaves was.
“I’m a Michigan fan,” he added.
Blake Krum and Tyler Dow, both sophomores on the 2009 runners-up, added 16 each for the 27-0 Eagles, while another senior, Kody Chandler, had 13.
“We came so close our sophomore year, and we knew exactly what we needed to do this time,” Chandler said. “We went undefeated during the regular season, and we weren’t going to let anyone stop us.”
Cody King’s 15 points led McBain (25-3), which was trying to repeat its 2002 championship, but star Jared Larr was held to 14 by foul trouble.