Buzzer-beater, controversial finish highlight prep boys basketball finals

2019 finals will assuredly go down in history

By Keith Dunlap

Southfield Christian players celebrate after winning the Division 4 state boys basketball title on March 16, 2019. Contributed photo.

EAST LANSING, Mich. - It will go down as one of the most memorable championship Saturdays in the history of the state boys basketball finals.

There was a buzzer-beater that gave an unlikely underdog the title and a controversial finish that had the winners crying tears of happiness, and the losers crying tears of anger and despair. 

Here's a look at what happened at Michigan State University's Breslin Center. 

The shot heard around the state

Ypsilanti Lincoln had captivated many around the state with a run to its first state championship game in school history, but that's because Lincoln features the consensus top freshman in the entire country, 6-foot, 9-inch forward Emoni Bates. 

But Lincoln was still a decided underdog going into the Division 1 final against a talented and senior-laden Detroit U-D Jesuit. 

U-D Jesuit appeared to be in control with a 9-point lead and five minutes left, but Lincoln rallied to tie the game, and got the ball near the end of regulation.

As the clock wound down, U-D Jesuit double-teamed Bates, who then passed the ball to Lincoln guard Amari Frye at the top of the key.

Frye launched a shot, but it caromed off of the rim hard.

Fortunately for Lincoln, there was still time on the clock and the ball went to the right baseline to Jalen Fisher, who fired a 15-footer just before the buzzer sounded into the basket to give Lincoln an incredible 64-62 win. 

 

The controversy 

Neither Iron Mountain nor Pewamo-Westphalia had won a state championship going into Saturday, and neither had lost a game all season entering the Division 3 final. 

Iron Mountain is the high school where Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo attended, and Izzo gave the team a tour of the MSU practice facility and a pep talk Wednesday night. 

Iron Mountain looked like it was going to win the title in Izzo's house when it held a 52-51 lead and inbounded the ball with just over 10 seconds left.

Iron Mountain broke the press and converted a wide-open layup with over five seconds remaining.

Without any timeouts left for Pewamo-Westphalia, the clock would have kept running and left Pewamo-Westphalia barely any time to get a shot off.

But the referee on the far side of the court called a travel, nullifying the basket and giving Pewamo-Westphalia a chance to inbound with 5.7 seconds left.

Replays appeared to indicate it was not a travel. 

 

The travel call created some outrage all across Twitter.

It only got more controversial.

As Pewamo-Westphalia brought the ball up the court, Iron Mountain had fouls to give and fouled Pewamo-Westphalia guard Collin Trierweiler as he prepared to launch a half-court shot. 

But officals ruled the Iron Mountain player who fouled wrapped his arms around Trierweiler and called for an intentional foul with .7 seconds left, meaning two free throws for Trierweiler and the ball for Pewamo-Westphalia. 

After two timeouts to freeze him, Trierweiler calmy made the first free throw to tie the game. After another Iron Mountain timeout, Trierweiler made the second to give his team a 53-52 lead. 

Pewamo-Westphalia then inbounded the ball and ran out the clock to win the title. 

Below is a highlight of Treierweller hitting the game-winning free throw.

Rematch of 1963 final

Hudsonville Unity Christian and River Rouge had actually met before in the state championship round, with River Rouge beating Unity Christian in the 1963 Class B final.

After 56 years, the teams met again in a state championship game, this time for the Division 2 title.  

River Rouge held a 30-28 lead early in the third quarter, but Unity Christian went on a 13-0 run to take a 41-30 lead with 4:18 left in the third. 

River Rouge rallied in the fourth quarter, cutting the Unity Christian lead to 52-47 with 4:02 remaining.

River Rouge cut Unity Christian's lead to 58-55 with 18.1 seconds left, and after a Unity Christian turnover, had a chance to tie the game. 

But River Rouge failed to connect on a pair of 3-point attempts, and Unity Christian ended up winning its first ever title, 58-55. 

5 in 8 for Southfield Christian

The least dramatic final of the day was the first one, when Southfield Christian won its fifth state title since 2012 with a 63-39 rout of Frankfort in the Division 4 final. 

The Eagles repeated as state champions and capped off a dominant tournament run where their closest margin of victory was 19 points. 

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