EAST LANSING – Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes was on a teeter-totter Thursday at the Breslin Center.
One second it had the lead, and a few seconds later Wyoming Tri-unity Christian swiped it away.
“It came down to defense,” said Lakes senior Clay Senerius. “We really stepped up at the end with those big turnovers. We just kind of committed to playing defense and from there, offense would have opportunities for us.”
Tri-unity thought it had the lead for good when Willie Otole buried a three-point shot with 4:17 left to play, but the Defenders will have to wait until December to score their next point.
Our Lady of the Lakes scored the game’s final 12 points Thursday night to give it a 64-53 victory over Tri-unity Christian and move into Saturday’s 10 a.m. Class D championship game against No. 1 ranked and defending state champ Powers North Central.
It was a difficult ending for No. 9 Tri-unity (20-6), which was fortunate to be in the game despite being out-rebounded, 37-15. The biggest rebound of the game came following Otole’s basket when Lakes (22-4) missed a shot, but Andrew Kline (15 points) grabbed his only offensive board and fed Noah Robak, who drilled a three-pointer for a lead Lakes never surrendered.
“We had an opportunity to get the rebound and then go down and increase our lead,” said Tri-unity coach Mark Keeler. “But instead they got the offensive board and hit the ‘three.’ When they came back and scored, we just did not step it up and get a stop, and for us that’s very important. We could not get that separation in the score.”
Following Robak’s triple, Kline scored on a dunk — and suddenly Tri-unity was in the midst of eight consecutive scoreless possessions, which featured four turnovers.
A year ago Lakes lost in the semifinals, and then many of the same players lost in the Division 8 football state championship game last fall. Those experiences paid off against Tri-unity.
“Playing on the big stage, it’s not as hard as it used to be,” said Devin Senerius (17 points, 12 rebounds). “Last year, in the semifinals, we were all nervous and then in the state (football) finals we were little bit nervous and now we just wanted to win instead of lose.”
Helping No. 7 Lakes was Robak, a freshman, who hit 3 of 5 three-point shots, including two in the fourth quarter.
“Noah can do that,” said Lakes coach Paul Robak, Noah’s uncle. “He’s got a very good game. He’s learning as he goes and it’s a great group of guys to learn with. Noah came into a great situation. Being young he’s got Andrew and Devin and Clay to handle the rock for him and it makes it easier. He can still do that, but it’s not as much pressure.”
Lakes was a sensational 14 of 21 (66.7%) in the second half. Tri-unity only attempted one free throw the entire game, mainly because it attempted 27 three-point shots, but made only seven (25.9%).
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.