IMLAY CITY – After a regional that produced two wins and a title last week for Fowler, Tuesday’s Class D quarterfinal saw the Eagles come up short against Southfield Christian.
Southfield Christian provided an aerial display in transition and a fast pace helped knock off Fowler 64-42 at Imlay City High School.
“They were lengthy. They were just all athletes,” said Fowler senior center Jeremy Pung, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Fowler finished the season with an 18-7 record. The Eagles got off to a slow start as Southfield Christian led 15-4 following the first quarter.
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Fowler got into the bonus with just over six minutes elapsed in the first quarter but could not take advantage at the free-throw line. Southfield Christian continued to pull away with finishes in transition like one from junior Bryce Washington, who had 11 first-half points for Southfield Christian.
Washington’s acrobatic put-in increased the Southfield Christian lead to 22-8 and forced a Fowler timeout. Pung had 11 first-half points to lead the Eagles, but scoring from other Fowler players was limited.
“Unfortunately, other than Jeremy, not many guys really stepped up,” Fowler coach Jason Goerge said. “We have guys that normally do step up but we had a bad night as a team other than Jeremy.”
Carter Pline connected on a 3-pointer to narrow Southfield Christian’s lead to 30-16, but his basket was just the second of the half by a player other than Pung.
Southfield Christian then closed the half on a 7-0 run.
Fowler got the lead down to as little as 13 in the second half at 41-28, forcing timeouts from Southfield Christian coach Josh Baker on two occasions, but Fowler could get no closer.
A step-back triple from Caleb Hunter to end the third quarter and another 3 early in the fourth quarter from sophomore Harlond Beverly, who had 24 points for Southfield Christian, helped bump the lead back up to more than 20 points.
“We knew they were going to be a machine to beat,” Goerge said. “I give our kids all the credit for fighting back. We were down 20 or 21 points and fought back and cut it to 13 but we just didn’t have it in us.”
Carter Pline added 12 points for Fowler in the defeat.
Fowler had not won a regional title in basketball since 2003 and will have to replace Pung going into next season, but bring back a roster full of contributors from this year’s team.
“This season I think was a stepping stone for the whole community,” Pung said. “We’ve got the young kids buying into it and we’re getting young kids in the gym and they’re willing to work because they see the results now.”