To start Saturday’s night session of the 2017 MHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships, two basketball programs with championship pedigrees faced off in the Class C Championship. Although it has been twenty-three years since their last appearance in the state finals, Covenant Christian has three state championships in their program’s history. The Chargers faced off with Flint Beecher, the seven-time champ, who has won two in a row and four out of five titles in Class C.
These two teams were locked in a tight battle from the start, as in the first three quarters, nobody led by double figures. The Chargers held the lead for nearly five minutes in this contest, and the game was also even for about five minutes. For the large majority of today though, the Bucs held the lead. Led by senior guard Malik Ellison, who finished his final high school contest with a remarkable 32 points, Beecher won their third straight title, and the fifth championship in six seasons with a 73-58 victory.
Covenant Christian was able to keep pace with the Bucs in the first quarter, and thanks to a 15-7 rebounding edge, they were tied at 22. To open the second quarter, the Chargers were hot and went on a 9-2 run to take a 31-24 lead. But after Coach Mike Williams called a timeout, the momentum began to change.
Flint Beecher began to ramp up the pressure defensively, and in the second half especially, it got to Covenant Christian. The Chargers ended up committing nineteen turnovers, and the transition baskets ended up being the difference for Beecher. With just under two minutes to play, senior forward Levane Blake stole the basketball near half court and took it in for a thunderous slam to expand the lead to twelve, all but ending the slight hope remaining for the Chargers.
With this victory, the Bucs continued their dominance of Class C, and it ranks up there in the history books as one of the all-time best in the history of MHSAA Boys Basketball. They are the first team to three-peat in Class C since Kalamazoo St. Augustine won three consecutive titles from 1930-1932. The five championships in six years is the most dominant run by a single school in any class since River Rouge in the 1960s and early 1970s, when they won nine championships in twelve years (five in a row from 1961-1965 and four straight from 1969-1972). Though they lose four of their starters, including Malik Elliott, they do have a pair of freshman in Jalen Terry and Earnest Sanders that played double figure minutes in tonight’s contest. It would hardly be a surprise to see the Bucs back in Breslin for the season’s final weekend next March.