Michigan State had just earned its spot in Sunday’s Elite Eight with a victory against Oklahoma when Travis Trice was informed by TBS reporter Ally LaForce that Wayne in Huber Heights, Ohio, had won its state semifinal game in overtime.
Huber Heights is not only Trice’s alma mater, it’s the program coached by his father and he has two of his brothers are on the roster.
“Oh, wow. That’s great,” he told LaForce. “I’m happy for them.”
“I’m happier for my brothers and my dad to see than succeeding than I am,” he said Saturday. “That’s just how we were raised. You should care about others more than yourself.”
(Trice also said Saturday that a Michigan State spokesman had told him the result just before the interview began.)
Trice never made it to the state championship game in high school, but he was looking for a place to watch Saturday night in Syracuse, N.Y., as Wayne was battling Westerville South in Columbus for the Division I title.
His other plan was scuttled by coach Spartans coach Tom Izzo.
“I asked Coach if I could fly home for the game but he wasn’t having that,” Trice joked.
What happened in Columbus was the first state title in Wayne history with a 65-57 victory and the star of the game was D’Mitrick Trice with 19 points.
Wayne finished 26-4. Among those victories was a holiday tournament win against Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) when Findlay was ranked No. 1 in the Super 25. Two of its losses were against in-state teams.
The combination of Michigan State’s and Wayne’s success has meant for a hectic month for the family.
After Wayne won in the regionals in Ohio, Travis Sr. and wife Julie drove overnight to Chicago to watch the Spartans’ play on the final day of the Big Ten Tournament.
Last weekend, after a Wayne victory, the Trices again were on the road for an overnight trip from Ohio to Charlotte, N.C., to surprise Travis II and watch Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.
Another trip was on tap this weekend from Ohio to Syracuse for Michigan State’s Elite Eight matchup against Louisville.
“It’s been a busy month,” Travis II said. “A lot of hours on the road. A lot of late nights. But I think it just speaks to how close we are. We’d go through the wall for each other.
“I’m the oldest of five. That’s one of the main things I’ve missed, being away from college — I was so used to, in high school, going to each other’s events, supporting each other through everything. For them to carry that on, on different coasts and in different states, it means a lot.”
The trip from Columbus to Syracuse should take about six hours.
“It’s tiring, but you only get to do this once,” Travis Sr. told MLive.com. “It’s a once in a lifetime situation being in a state championship with one son and the other one being in a Sweet 16. We can be tired next week.”
Travis II had been a reserve, mostly, until this, his breakout senior season in which he’s led the Spartans in scoring (15.3 points a game, and also 5.1 assists). More important, he’s elevated his play from the Big Ten tournament on, carrying this team to the precipice of the Final Four.
During his four years, he’s battled injuries — from a painful blister that grew on top of another painful blister last season to a mysterious brain infection his sophomore year — like no other current college basketball player has. And he’s emerged from them, healthy and motivated.
He is savoring the experience with the Spartans but values his time with his father.
“It was great,” Travis II said of playing for his dad. “I tell my brother all the time, value that. That’s something you’ll never get to experience again. Try to learn as much as you can. I tell people all the time, especially the players there, how lucky they are to have a coach like him. He really treats it like a college. We did the same things back in high school that we do here in terms of pre-game meal, film, scouting reports, the whole nine (yards). I’ve just learned so much from him.”
Contributing: Nicole Auerbach from Syracuse, N.Y. and the Associated Press in Columbus, Ohio