Saginaw High and Saginaw Arthur Hill likely met for the last time ever in the regular season Friday and for the first half, the Saginaw players appeared to be at a wake at Arthur Hill.
The Trojans have played that way for a while since learning the district is expected to announce today it will close Saginaw High and combine it with Arthur Hill at Arthur Hill.
In 1987, Saginaw High had over 1,800 students and it is down to about 603 now. Arthur Hill had 2,395 students in ’85 and now has 973.
“It has affected us in a couple of games,” said Saginaw coach Julian Taylor. “But we had a meeting and I told them we have to play for what’s on their jersey, that’s the only thing we can control right now.”
In the second half the Trojans controlled the game and wound up with a surprising 70-64 victory over Arthur Hill, which was No. 2 in Class A.
The teams will meet again March 3 in the first round of the districts at Clio, but this game was special, which is one of the reasons Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was there.
The Saginaw-Arthur Hill basketball rivalry is the best in the state, so you shouldn’t be surprised when the underdog wins. But Saginaw (11-6) was coming off consecutive losses to Midland and Midland Dow for maybe the first time ever.
Arthur Hill, which got 23 points from junior sensation Eric Davis, led, 36-30, at the half before 6-foot-1 senior Keyon Addison, who signed to play football at Ferris State, scored nine of his 20 points in the third quarter to spark Saginaw.
“Keyon is a gamer,” Taylor said. “He plays hard on both ends. He’s the heart and soul of the team. As Keyon goes, the team goes. Keyon is a great leader and he leads by example.”
The Trojans also got 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks from 6-7 sophomore Algevon Eichelberger.
“He was awesome,” Taylor said. “He was all over the court — scoring, blocking shot, rebounding.”
The students and alumni from Saginaw High are concerned about the closing, but the Arthur Hill people aren’t thrilled, either. While the new school may be at Arthur Hill, it will have a new name with new colors and a new mascot.
“The main focus is shutting Saginaw High down — that’s all people hear,” said Taylor. “But they’re not realizing Arthur Hill will be shut down, too, as far as their history and their school name.”
But that hasn’t made anyone at Saginaw High feel any better about the imminent closing.
“It affects everybody, whoever went to Saginaw High, I’m telling you,” Taylor said. “Once they announced that, there was an outpouring. There was sadness and people angry. Whoever went to Saginaw High was saying: ‘They can’t close my school,’ but the numbers show otherwise. We’re praying and hoping something could turn around and keep it open for a couple more years at least.”
Over the Hill
Things went from bad to worse for Arthur Hill when it traveled to Class C Detroit Consortium Saturday and was crushed by Josh Jackson and his teammates, 72-57.
Jackson, the 6-7 sophomore, was typically tremendous with 25 points and 11 rebounds as Consortium dominated from the opening moments.
Despite the victory, Consortium is still ranked No. 2 in Class C despite No. 1 Mt. Clemens losing Saturday at Muskegon, 68-59.
Muskegon is ranked No. 1 in Class A and after the win, coach Keith Guy had a question for his statistician.
“Are you sure about that?” Guy asked after noticing that 6-9 junior Deyonta Davis, who has committed to MSU, was credited with 17 points, 27 rebounds and 16 blocked shots.
“I have a coach doing stats on the bench and a statistician and they came up with the same numbers,” Guy said. “He was rebounding everything. He was on top of things. He has that whole entire game. They couldn’t even drive to the basket anymore.”
Then you throw in guard Deshaun Thrower, who added 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and you understand why the Big Reds are No. 1.
“Deshaun is just the toughest kid I’ve ever coached,” Guy said. “Those guys play so well together, it was great to see.”
Guy was also impressed with Mt. Clemens, which he believes is the best team in Class C.
“I’m going to tell you right now, that’s a Class A roster that they have,” he said. “They get after it. They play hard, they compete, they have a lot of size, they have perimeter scoring … So I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at the Breslin hoisting the trophy.”