After a record season for wins and the school’s deepest run in the tourney in decades, St. Philip wasn’t going to let its season end without a fight.
And that’s exactly how it went as the Fighting Tigers gave it everything they had, just falling short, as Adrian Lenawee Christian held off St. Philip, 56-51, in overtime to win this Class D boys’ basketball state quarterfinal game at Battle Creek Central High School on Tuesday.
After winning its first regional title since 1984, No. 5-ranked St. Philip fell short of its goal to make the school’s first Final Four appearance in boys’ basketball since 1973.
“We came really close. I told the guys I am proud of them. It was a great season,” St. Philip coach Dino English said. “I don’t want them hanging their heads. They gave it their all, they played really hard, but the chips didn’t fall our way tonight.”
St. Philip had its chances in overtime because Adrian Lenawee Christian struggled from the free-throw line in the extra period. But the Cougars made 12-of-21 free throws in the overtime to come away with the win.
Kingsley, a 6-foot-8 international student that goes by one name, led Lenawee Christian (20-5) in scoring with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Kingsley was 6-of-10 from the line in the overtime. Senior guard Brad Harrah added 16 points, including going 5-for-10 from the line in the overtime.
“We were killing ourselves on free throws, and that’s something we normally hit. But that’s a tough situation for young kids to have to make those free throws in that environment,” Adrian Lenawee Christian coach Scott McKelvey said. “But our kids played with a lot of heart in that second half and in overtime, played through some adversity and fought to get this win.”
Adrian Lenawee Christian led most of the first half, but the Tigers rallied in the second half.
St. Philip’s Tyler Hubbard-Neil came up with a steal and was fouled on the fastbreak layup and went on to make a free throw to tie the game at 30-30. Then on the next time down the floor, Hubbard-Neil came up with another steal and was fouled again, this time making two and the Tigers had their first lead of the second half at 32-30 with 3:00 left in third quarter.
Then, St. Philip seemed to have things going its way when Dreyson English made a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and give the Tigers their biggest lead of the game at 38-34.
However, Lenawee Christian rallied late and Kingsley made two free throws to knot the game at 42-42 with just 2:00 remaining.
After a steal by Lenawee Christian on the ensuing St. Philip possession with 1:42 still left on the clock, the Cougars looked to run out the clock and take the last shot – which was missed, sending the game into overtime.
In the overtime, Lenawee Christian scored the first four points of the extra period to set the tone for the rest of the game as a free throw by Kingsley made it 46-42 with 1:30 remaining.
The Cougars eventually extended its lead to five points in the extra period on a free throw with :56 left.
But a layup by St. Philip’s Alex Doyle with :33 remaining and a 3-pointer by the Tigers’ Hunter Haley with :10 left and St. Philip was within 52-50.
Time ran out on the Tigers comeback, however, as Kingsley and Harrah made two free throws each in the final 10 seconds of the game to seal the win for Adrian Lenawee Christian.
With the win, Lenawee Christian advances to the state semifinals at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University to play Cedarville on Thursday.
“Getting to the Final Four is something that has been kind of unexpected. But it’s something this team has been working for late in the season once they realized it was possible. It’s a great feeling to get there,” McKelvey said.
Maxwell, another 6-8 international student, added 10 points and seven rebounds for Adrian Lenawee Christian with senior Grant Holbein adding 10 points.
With a balanced scoring effort, St. Philip only had one player in double figures with Hubbard-Neil getting 10 points and 10 rebounds. Doyle added nine points and seven rebounds and Haley and English each chipped in with eight points.
The Tigers saw 11 seniors play their final game. But by finishing the season at 24-2, the team set the school record for wins in a season in boys’ basketball at St. Philip. And the Tiger coach reminded his team that is something to be proud of.
“We’ve done things that other teams haven’t done and they can’t take that away from them,” English said. “This is something they will have as memories until they’re old. We lost this game, but they will always remember this season and that’s what high school sports are all about.”