EAST LANSING – Detroit Henry Ford’s hopes and dreams for the basketball season were nearly lost a couple of weeks before the season began when big man Antwan Johnson and his family moved out of state.
It took the Trojans months to recover, but now they are a single victory away from winning the school’s first state championship.
Henry Ford countered the one-man assault of Williamston’s scoring machine Riley Lewis Friday and used a balanced attack to record a one-sided 70-48 victory in a Class B semifinal.
The win moves Henry Ford into Saturday night’s 6:30 state championship game at the Breslin Center.
Lewis, who finished the tournament with an astounding 190 points in six games, lit up Henry Ford (19-6) with 32 points.
“We watched a lot of film on these guys the last couple of days,” said Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers. “And it still didn’t matter because Riley Lewis kicked our butts all day himself. We tried to take him away and he had a real great game.”
But the Trojans were able to counter with a balanced attack led by 6-foot-4 senior Kavon Bey, who scored a career-high 21 points and pulled eight rebounds.
If you don’t remember Bey from last year’s Henry Ford team lost in the finals, well, there is a reason.
“I really didn’t play that much last year,” he said. “I sat and watched.”
He sat, watched and learned.
Bey was relentless on the boards, grabbing five offensive rebounds, one more than Williamston (21-4).
“I wrote ‘(Bey) attacks the glass’ 10 times a day and we knew he was a problem,” said Williamston assistant coach Tom Lewis. “We needed him to not be so aggressive and maybe get a foul or two early and take his teeth away a little bit. But he played great. He had a lot of energy tonight.”
Bey hit 10 of 12 shots, including a three-pointer, and Williamston couldn’t stop him.
“I just came out and tried to play for my team and play my role today — come out and rebound,” he said. “Yeah, I’m kind of surprised. A little bit. We just wanted to come out and play hard and get back to the states. We’ve been thinking about since the season started. We want to get back and play in the Bres.”
A player you might remember is guard James Towns. The senior guard hit his first two shots, both three-pointers, and Henry Ford was off and running to an 18-11 lead after a quarter.
For the game Towns hit 6 of 8 shots for 17 points and helped the Trojans build a 43-23 halftime lead.
“James is the backbone of the team,” Flowers said. “He came out passionate, trying to will his team on his back and let everyone know that he was here. He’s consistent all year with what he’s been doing.”
The loss ends Williamston’s Cinderella-like run to the semifinals after head coach Jason Bauer was diagnosed with two brain tumors and underwent successful surgery.
Bauer was on the bench Friday, but couldn’t actually coach. Still, his presence was a welcome sign to his players.
“It’s definitely been magical for everyone involved,” Riley Lewis said. “We showed that we could play together and we played for something. To put it in perspective, yeah, we lost but our coach still has to fight his battles and those don’t stop here so at the end of the day it’s just a game of basketball.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.