WILLIAMSTON — Cam Brigham and the Fowlerville boys basketball team had a little chat on the bus before kicking off Monday’s Class B district tournament.
“We said that we were going to come out and play,” the senior guard said of the chatter on the ride to Williamston High School. “We knew that we had to.”
It’s been a rocky road for the Gladiators leading up to districts, as the CAAC White ball club dropped seven of its last eight games heading into the win-or-go-home stage of the season. And despite the recent downfalls, Brigham said there was nothing but confidence as his team prepared for conference rival Lansing Catholic.
He wasn’t lying.
Fowlerville, which led by as many as 23 points in the game, defeated the Cougars, 66-52, to advance to a district semifinal showdown with Haslett on Wednesday.
“We were ready for a fresh start,” said Brigham, who scored a team-high 16 points.
Brigham was one of four players for the Gladiators (8-13) to score in double figures Monday night. Sophomore forward Geoffrey Knaggs scored eight of his 15 points in the first quarter to help his team take a 14-12 lead into the second quarter. Senior forward Dan Judd added 14 points, and senior guard Andrew Spalding scored 12 points.
Fowlerville coach Fred Hackett thought coming into the season that his team would be a well-balanced scoring unit, but it failed to come together consistently throughout the year.
“That’s what I was expecting and hoping for,” Hackett said. “We didn’t always get that diversity, but we definitely did tonight.”
The Gladiators started the game down 2-0, but never trailed again in the contest after the first bucket from Knaggs. Fowlerville, which went into the half leading, 32-18, opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run in less than two minutes to push its lead out to 23.
Lansing Catholic was finally able to gain some traction after the lopsided third-quarter start when two free throws from sophomore Josh Kramer, who scored a game-high 17 points, ignited a 15-0 run for the Cougars (10-11). Lansing Catholic found itself down by only eight points after the near four-minute rout, but the Gladiators were able to close the game by outscoring their CAAC White opponent, 19-15, in the final eight minutes.
“A 15-0 run, it’s hard when you look up and it’s still a 10-point game,” said Kramer, whose team lost to Fowlerville by 21 points in the first regular-season meeting and won by 25 in the second. “It’s hard to come back from a lead that big.
“We got ourselves in a hole many games this year and fought back, and today we just couldn’t. They played hard, and they’re a very good team. We just couldn’t fight back all the way.”
Senior forward Chuck Plaehn scored 11 points for the Cougars and sophomore Matthew Plaehn added seven points.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.