EAST LANSING – It was the perfect storm for the Williamston boys basketball team.
For the past two weeks, a fearless all-state senior guard, who is averaging 31 points per game through the playoffs, fused with a group who, on the biggest of stages, was trying to prove the Hornets were more than just a one-man band. All of which were playing for something that extended beyond the lines.
And for the first time this month, that storm was weathered – by a Detroit Henry Ford team that has breezed its way through the postseason by defeating all but one of its opponents by a double-digit margin.
The Trojans thumped Williamston, 70-48, Friday night in the Class B state semifinals at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
“It’s definitely been magical for everyone involved,” said Hornet all-state senior Riley Lewis, who scored a game-high 32 points and scored 30-plus for the third time this postseason. “To put it in perspective, yeah, we lost, but our coach (Jason Bauer) has still got to fight his battles, and those don’t stop here. At the end of the day, it’s just the game of basketball, but I love these guys and we’ll be a family forever.”
It was Williamston’s first trip to the semis since 1992, and it was greeted by a Henry Ford team that clearly had unfinished business after losing in the state championship by 17 points last season.
The Trojans (19-6) put together a complete game from start to finish and ignited their tournament victory with a lights-out shooting performance. Henry Ford opened the game with three 3-pointers in the first four minutes and jumped out to an early 15-5 lead.
Trojan guard James Towns, also an all-state selection, scored eight of his 17 points in the first quarter. His team shot 63 percent from the field in the first half – 58 percent for the game – while holding the Hornets (21-4) to just 23 first-half points, 21 of which were scored by Lewis.
“We wanted certain guys with the ball in their hands but to not let them make set shots,” said Williamston assistant coach Tom Lewis, who has been the interim head coach since Bauer underwent brain surgery earlier this postseason. “We knew Towns was tough, but he’s lefty dominant – we knew where we wanted to attack the floor.
“It was a big stage tonight. …There was some starry eyes.”
The eighth-ranked Hornets trailed the Trojans, 18-11, after the second quarter and a quick 7-0 run pushed the lead out to 14. Henry Ford, which went 7-for-11 from 3-point land, put the game out of reach with a 13-5 run to end the first half. Senior Kavon Bey went 10-for-12 in the game for 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Williamston, the CAAC White co-champs, put together an unexpected run to the Breslin by knocking off conference rival and No. 3-ranked Lansing Catholic and defending state champs and second-ranked Wyoming Godwin Heights.
And for senior forward Kurtis Kodet, who scored five points, the improbable run made the defeat a little easier to swallow.
“It’s crazy,” Kodet said. “This team worked so hard every day. Every game we just (put forth) 100 percent effort.
“As disappointing as it is to lose this game, I wouldn’t want any other team. I’m not happy the way it turned out, but I’m really proud of this team.”
Freshman Sean Cobb scored four points and hauled in seven rebounds.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.