SALINE, Michigan — It was only a matter of time. The U-16 Mid-Michigan Lakers had done everything asked of them this season, save for one: to win a tournament outright. That hurdle is now behind them after a dramatic 54-52 overtime win over Michigan Select in the Michigan Memorial Classic championship game.
With the game tied and 15 seconds to play, Zeshawn Parker-Jones stole the ball at halfcourt and took it the distance to give the Lakers a two-point lead with eight seconds to go. Select’s last second shot rimmed out; The Lakers earned the hardware they’d been working for all season.
The Lakers’ run to the championship was even more impressive without key reserves Cal Henry and TJ Nichols and Kendrick Wallace. Into the breach stepped guard Raheen Dudley, who led the team from the defensive end all tournament long.
With the victory, the Lakers improved their overall record to 22-6 on the season, easily the best winning percentage of any team in program history.
Our two other teams had impressive performances as well, with both losing in the final four of their respective brackets. Led by Marquavian Stephens, the U-15 team grabbed the number one seed in their pool before falling to the eventual champions, FIST. In the first bracket game, Stephens led the Lakers to a come-from-behind victory over Guelph Phoenix (Canada) with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
The U-17 team fell to All-Michigan in the final four despite a strong opening half performance from Nathan Landsgaard. The Lakers were totally jobbed out of their first undefeated pool this season against FIST, and never bounced back.
All in all, it was a great weekend for MML. At one point on Sunday, the program was 8-0. That has never happened before.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” — Henry Ford
U-17: Nate Landsgaard (Goodrich): Really tough all weekend going to the basket. Really excels from the PG spot.
U-16: Zeshawn Parker-Jones (Lapeer West): Mr. Big Shot didn’t earn the MVP until the final play of the championship game.
U-15: Mark Cox (Lapeer West): Probably could have gone to a couple different players, but Cox was the tallest player on the team this weekend and played great on both ends of the floor against much bigger opponents.
Five for Fighting (fighting for rebounds, loose balls, stops and playing time)
1.) Raheen Dudley, Beecher (U-16)
2.) Mark Cox, Lapeer West (U-15)
3.) BJ Walker, IAF (U-17)
4.) Rece Visnaw, Kearsley (U-16)
5.) Jaylen Lee, Hamady (U-15)