The MHSAA Boys Basketball District 6 had a chalk first round, with the traditional heavyweights of Grand Rapids Christian, Ottawa Hills and East Kentwood advancing to join Wyoming in Wednesday night’s district semifinals. In a pair of highly competitive games at Caledonia High School, East Kentwood and Grand Rapids Christian emerged victorious to set up a Battle of the Birds for the District Title on Friday night.
EAST KENTWOOD 64 WYOMING 57 (OT)
The Falcons and the Wolves tipped off Wednesday nights action with a very competitive back and forth basketball game. Kentwood controlled the first quarter, 16-9, and they raced out to an eleven point lead midway through the second quarter. Coach Vander Klay’s bunch responded to his timeout by going on a big run, eventually tying the game up at 24 with a minute before halftime. They would take the lead briefly before Kentwood scored to even the game at 26 headed into the locker room.
In the second half, these two teams went back and forth the entire way. Wyoming would lead after three quarters by just a point, but the last two minutes of regulation provided plenty of drama both ways. The Wolves took a 49-46 lead on a layup by Payton Harley with just 58 seconds left to play, but his miss at the free throw line left the door open for Kentwood. The Falcons got a huge basket by Ja’Moni Jones, and he converted the and-one opportunity to knot the game up at 49 and send it into overtime.
In the extra frame, the teams were back and forth until a very costly error by the Wolves. Senior Payton Harley picked up a technical foul after scoring a basket, and even though the Falcons missed the free throws, the momentum in this one swung. Kentwood’s Ryel Daye got an old-school three-pointer with fifty seconds to go that would put the Falcons up six, and that was too much for Wyoming to overcome.
Kentwood was led by thirteen points from Justin Lacy, eleven from Christopher Brown and seven huge points by Ja’Moni Jones, all of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime. For Wyoming, they were led by Harley who scored 24 points and Menalito McGee who scored seventeen points, including five three-pointers.
GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN 53 OTTAWA HILLS 47
The second game of the semifinals pitted two former City League foes, the Eagles of Christian High and the Bengals of Ottawa Hills. The Bengals got off to a hot start, especially Nelson McCauley, who scored their first eleven points. Christian High took the lead after the first quarter by a point, and then Seth Millner began to take over. He sliced and diced his way through the teeth of the Bengals, and he propelled the Eagles to a 31-23 lead at the break.
Coming out of the locker room, the momentum appeared to turn almost instantly. After being the aggressors throughout the second quarter, Christian High appeared to pump on the brakes a bit, and the Bengals pounced on the opportunity. They got after it on defense, expanding the pressure the entire length of the court, and on offense they stayed patient and took advantage of good looks. With just a couple seconds left in the third quarter, McCauley’s three evened up the score at 42.
In the fourth quarter, it began with a lull, as neither team scored a basket in the first three minutes. Finally, Millner broke the drought by hitting a layup to put Christian back in front. The Bengals bounced back immediately as McCauley hit yet another triple, but that would be the last lead they held. Over the last four minutes, the Eagles went on a 9-2 run to create some separation and eventually emerge victorious by six.
In the win, Grand Rapids Christian was led by Cleveland State commit Seth Millner, who scored twenty points. They also got key contributions from Kobe Bufkin and Tre Vallar who both got to double figures with ten points a piece. For Ottawa Hills, they were led by Nelson McCauley, who matched Millner with twenty points. Their other player in double figures was Damion Seifullah, who finished the night with eleven.
The District 6 final will pit East Kentwood against Grand Rapids Christian. This game will take place at 7:00 on Friday, March 9 at Caledonia High School. Check in to MSR on Friday for our coverage of this game, as well as many others. As always, make sure to visit our Listen LIVE page to see the LIVE action each and every night of the MHSAA Basketball Tournament.