For the past two years, Flint Beecher has defeated Grand Rapids area schools to earn the Class C State Championship. Last year, they narrowly defeated Grandville Calvin Christian 63-61. In 2015, they handily topped Northpointe Christian 78-52. In order for the Bucs to earn their third straight title on Saturday (4:30 PM), they will have to defeat yet another Grand Rapids area team, the Covenant Christian Chargers.
In the second game of the Class C semifinals on Thursday, Covenant Christian dominated the Rangers of Manton. After falling behind 4-0, the Chargers went on a 30-3 run to take control. Led by junior Trenton Koole, who scored fourteen points, Covenant Christian shot 41.1% from the field. Two more junior forwards, Carson Meulenberg and Zach Kaptein, added double figure efforts as they both finished with ten points.
Another player who had a tremendous effort was senior guard Benji Kuiper, who did a little bit of everything this afternoon. Kuiper finished with six points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals, and was a true leader for the Chargers in the backcourt as he directed the offense into easy baskets, including four to Carson Meulenberg.
The Manton Rangers got some great looks throughout the contest, but they simply would not fall. In the second quarter alone, Manton shot one for eleven for the floor. With just ten points in the first half, the second half improvement was not enough, as they faced a deficit as large as thirty-four points. Their game totals of 21.6% shooting from the field and 16% from deep were about half as good as the Covenant Christian Chargers.
Covenant Christian’s opponent, the Bucs of Flint Beecher, defeated Detroit Edison Public School Academy today by a final score of 76-68. Beecher started off slow in this contest as they did not hit a field goal for the game’s first five minutes, but their strong free throw shooting kept them afloat. When they finally started to score, their charge was led by senior guard Malik Ellison. Ellison scored 28 points on six of fourteen from the floor, and 15/21 from the free-throw line. He also added seven rebounds and seven assists.
Senior forward Levane Blake was a pivotal force down low for the Bucs, and some of his best work does not appear in the stat sheet. In addition to his ten points, six blocks and four rebounds, Blake drew two huge offensive fouls. He did struggle with foul trouble, he picked up four, and in his absence the Bucs looked vulnerable in the post.
Not to be lost in Edison’s loss should be the performance of senior Jamal Keesee. Keesee finished he day with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. Junior Deante “Spider” Johnson also had a strong game as he collected nine rebounds and four blocks to go along with his seventeen points.
FINALS OUTLOOK: The Bucs enter the final at 22-5, and the Chargers will be 21-5. These teams both like to run, but they do it in a different fashion. Flint Beecher gets up and down, but they are a bit sloppier in transition as they committed ten turnovers. Covenant Christian on the other hand, pushes the ball up the court, but they rarely forced an ill-advised pass. Malik Ellison will be the toughest guard that Benji Kuiper and the Covenant backcourt will have faced the entire year. Another big matchup to watch will be inside as Carson Meulenberg will try and matchup with Levane Blake. The shot-blocker will create issues in the post, but the Covenant Christian forwards may be able to stretch the ball on the perimeter more efficiently. It is Covenant’s first finals appearance since 1994, and for Beecher it’s their fifth appearance in six years.