EAST LANSING – Second chances come in different sizes and outcomes.
For 5-foot-6 senior guard Mackenzie Anderson, her second chance resulted in Warren Cousino’s first-ever Class A state championship — a 67-65 win over Detroit King Saturday at the Breslin Center.
Anderson, who came into the contest averaging 9.5 points and three assists per game, scored 20 points in the final, after scoring just four the day before in the semifinals win over Hudsonville. A main culprit Friday was foul trouble, which cut her playing time in half.
“I had a little bit of nerves and wasn’t really playing my game well, which I do regret,” Anderson said, with a state championship medal hanging around her neck. “I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made yesterday. I wanted to leave it all out on the court. I just wanted to be there for my teammates today.”
She said her scoring output was more than just extra playing time.
“We spread the court out and put me up top so that way it was basically a one-to-one matchup,” Anderson said “If I could drive it and kick it out that was great, but if not I would just take it all the way and I ended up drawing a good amount of fouls (8-for-13 free throws), so I think the more points just came with the game plan.”
Cousino (23-4) commanded the first half, taking a 35-19 lead over King (24-2) at halftime. But the Crusaders picked up the pressure defense and fought back by outscoring Cousino, 46-32, in the second half to come up just short. The Crusaders forced 22 Cousino turnovers, but leading scorer Micaela Kelly (34 points) said too many rushed three-point attempts missed didn’t help the outcome. King shot 5-for-31 (16%) from deep.
“I’m kind of speechless,” Warren Cousino coach Mike Lee said as the new Class A champion. “We came out to a great start again and played with so much heart. I think we took them off guard for a little bit. Then when they made their run they knocked us back a little bit. In that third quarter, had to take a couple crucial timeouts and gather the troops for one last fight, one last round.”
Anderson is the only senior on a team that’s already hoping its young nucleus, led by junior Kierra Fletcher — who scored 37 points in the semifinal and 27 on Saturday, and freshman Kate McArthur (13 points) — can return to East Lansing next year.
“As soon as we won regionals, we made school history,” she said. “And we figured, hey, if we’re going to make school history now, we’re not done yet.”