The Huron boys’ basketball team now stands where Gonzaga stood a week ago – undefeated and in the championship game. The River Rats are hoping for a better finish than the Bulldogs who lost in the finals to Baylor on Monday night in the NCAA Championship Game.
Huron reached the Division 1 MHSAA Championship Game using the same formula it used to knock off River Rouge in Tuesday’s semifinal game – great defense and wait for the offense to catch up.
The offense caught up in the fourth quarter as the River Rats put up 22 points and held Warren DeLaSalle to 12 in an impressive 55-39 win over the Pilots. The River Rats have been impressive all season, winning all 20 games and long with league, District and Regional titles.
The River Rats will face Grand Blanc (14-2) in the D-1 State Finals at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. Grand Blanc reached the finals with easy wins over Flushing (64-39) and Marquette (85-58) in Regionals. They defeated Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (58-53) in the quarterfinals and knocked out Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 68-58 in the semifinals on Thursday.
“We knew if we could stay patient and run the play, run the clock, we might get that open layup or that open three,” Huron head coach Waleed Samaha said. “We had our key guys making key plays in key moments. They played hard, and (Thursday) we made a few more shots and hung on defensively.”
It’s been an amazing season for an amazing group of players, coaches, families and support staff at Huron.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Samaha said. “We’ve been preparing really hard for this moment. The kids really stepped up to the opportunity that they had.”
Huron led 11-9 after the first quarter and 19-15 at halftime. Huron outscored DeLaSalle 14-12 in the third quarter before its 22-12 fourth-quarter run.
Tyson Edmondson led the River Rats with 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting (4 of 8 on three-pointers).
“I had the confidence from my team and when I was open, I was hitting my shots,” Edmondson said. “I take those (long) shots in practice and I tell ya, practice makes perfect. It really does convert to the game.”
Edmondson was one of three Huron players in double figures. Kingsley Perkins (6 of 7 from the floor) had 13 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Rawls had 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting along with six rebounds. Julian Lewis had six points and six rebounds. Lewis and Devin Womack (two points) led Huron with four assists apiece.
“It’s pretty difficult,” said Edmondson, talking about defending the River Rats. “We have threats outside and inside. We’ve played together so much that we know where we’re going to be and what we’re going to do. We’re like a well-oiled machine.”
They are especially like a well-oiled machine on defense. Huron’s typical aggressive and relentless defense held DeLaSalle to 37.5 percent shooting (15-40) and just 17.6 percent shooting (3-17) on three-pointers. Huron made 4 of 14 three-point attempts (33.3 percent) but knocked down 11 of 18 free throws.