Bulldogs fall in state championship tilt

morenci bench

By DOUG DONNELLY

EAST LANSING – Morenci coach Jim Bauer said he thought his Bulldogs would have to catch some “magic” if it hoped to beat undefeated Powers North Central Saturday. That was before the Jets shot 70 percent from the floor in the first half.

“If we play them 10 times, we probably lose nine of them,” Bauer said. “We were hoping today we could strike a little magic, play the perfect game and hang with them.”

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, any hopes they had of hanging with the Jets went away early. Torin Merillat hit a field goal early to make it 7-6 with 5:52 left in the first quarter. His basket just under midway through the first quarter tied it at 10-10, but the Jets quickly went up 16-10. After a Bladen Mellon three-pointer with two minutes to play in the first quarter, PNC went on a 10-0 run.

In all, PNC (27-0) led for all but 34 seconds of the Class D state championship game and went on to win, 67-47. Morenci closes its season 24-3 with its first Regional title since 1954 and first-ever appearance in the state finals.

“They had size, they had quickness, they ballhandlers, they had rebounders,” Bauer said. “They are a team that has it all.”

Austin Sandusky and Torin Merillat each scored 11 points for the Bulldogs. Merillat also had 12 rebounds.

PNC shot 28-47 for the game from the floor, nearly 60 percent. Morenci shot 18-63, or 29 percent.

“Our guys have nothing to be ashamed of,” Bauer said. “They played with their heart, like they have all year long.”

GAME NOTES:

The loss ended a 14-game winning streak for Morenci.

The Bulldogs gave up 45 first half points and 67 for the game – both season highs. In fact, Morenci held opponents at or below 45 points in 13 of its 27 games.

Every player on Morenci’s roster took at least one shot Saturday. Shawn Feltz hit the Bulldogs’ final basket with :00 left on the clock on a layup.

Morenci was outrebounded, 40-28, Saturday and had more offensive rebounds (15) than defensive rebounds.

The Bulldogs never led in Saturday’s game, which was tied for :34 seconds.

Madison Athletic Director Kris Isom presented the Class D runner-up trophy to Morenci coach Jim Bauer. Isom is a member of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council.

A pre-season No. 1 team in Class D for 2015-16? How about Powers North Central. The Jets started just one senior and its best player, 6-foot-4 Jason Whitens (19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) is just a sophomore.

TCC: 14-13 in title tilts all-time

CORREX: Add Clinton’s football 2013, Summerfield softball 2006

Morenci will play in the state basketball championship at 10 a.m. Saturday, becoming the 28th team in league history to participate in a state championship game.

League teams are 14-13 all-time in state finals.

This includes team sports in which one team faces another for a state title – so, for example, it does not include track or cross country or wrestling for a period of time from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Madison’s wrestling team won state titles in 1974, 1975 and 1976 in a team dual-meet format. Morenci won the state wrestling championship in 1982 and 1983, but in an individual tournament format, meaning there was no ‘state championship match.’

Here is a list of TCC teams to compete in a state championship game, with the year, sport and whether or not they came home as champions or runners-up:

Ann Arbor St. Thomas, boys basketball, Class D, 1974 – Champs

Madison, wrestling, Class D, 1974 – Champs

Madison, wrestling, Class D, 1975 – Champs

Madison, wrestling, Class D, 1976 – Champs

Whiteford, girls basketball, Class D, 1984 – Runner-up

Whiteford, softball, Class D, 1984 – Champs

Summerfield, softball, Class C, 1984 – Champs

Morenci, volleyball, Class C, 1984 – Runner-up

Morenci, softball, Class C, 1985 – Champs

Whiteford, softball, Class D, 1985 – Champs

Whiteford, volleyball, Class D, 1985 – Runner-up

Morenci, softball, Class C, 1986 – Champs

Whiteford, softball, Class D, 1987 – Champs

Whiteford, softball, Class D, 1988 – Runner-up

Sand Creek, boys basketball, Class D, 1992 – Runner-up

Sand Creek, football, Class D, 1992 – Runner-up

Whiteford, softball, Class D, 1994 – Runner-up

Morenci, football, Class C, 1995 – Runner-up

Morenci, football, Class C, 1996 – Runner-up

Summerfield, softball, Division 4, 2006 – Runner-up

Summerfield, softball, Division 4, 2010 – Champs

Summerfield, softball, Division 4, 2011 – Champs

Clinton, softball, Division 3, 2011 – Champs

Clinton, softball, Division 3, 2012 – Champs

Summerfield, softball, Division 4, 2012 – Runner-up

Clinton, football, Division 6, 2013 – Runner-up

Clinton, bowling, Division 4, 2015 – Runner-up

Last Lenawee County champ? Britton, 1964

Morenci will try and become the first Lenawee County boys basketball team since 1964 to bring home a state championship Saturday when it takes on Powers North Central at 10 a.m. Saturday.

State Finals (2-3)

1963 – Britton (won)

1963 – Adrian (loss)

1964 – Britton (won)

1992 – Sand Creek (loss)

2014 – Lenawee Christian (loss)

2015 – Morenci

 

Semifinals (6-6)

1931-32 Adrian (loss)

1941-42 Tecumseh (loss)

1962-63 Britton-Macon (win)

1962-63 Adrian (win)

1963-64 Britton-Macon (win)

1986-87 Addison (loss, 71-62, Benzonia Benzie Central)

1991-92 Sand Creek (win, 64-55, Pickford)

1997-98 Lenawee Christian (loss, 73-51, Southgate Aquinas)

1998-99 Lenawee Christian (loss, 61-58, Detroit City)

1999-00 Lenawee Christian (loss, 55-47, Detroit City)

2013-14 Lenawee Christian (win, 67-58, Cedarville)

2014-15 Morenci (win, 53-52, vs. Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes)

Morenci up to 24 wins

Morenci is up to 24 wins – the third most single season victories in TCC boys basketball history. Here’s a look at the TCC teams to win 20 games:

YEAR TEAM COACH W L
1991-92 Sand Creek Charlie Risner 26 2
1973-74 AA St. Thomas Mike Ramker 26 1
2014-15 Morenci Jim Bauer 24 2
1978-79 Madison Jim Hartley 23 2
2006-07 Morenci Jim Bauer 23 2
2002-03 Whiteford John Rice 23 1
1989-90 Sand Creek Charlie Risner 22 1
1992-93 Sand Creek Charlie Risner 22 2
1975-76 AA St. Thomas Mike Ramker 22 2
2007-08 Madison Jeff Webster 21 2
1983-84 Morenci Larry Bruce 21 3
1986-87 Morenci Larry Bruce 21 2
2007-08 Whiteford Brad Stevens 21 4
2012-13 Clinton Mike Ruhl 21 3
1976-77 Deerfield Garry Benko 20 3
1987-88 Morenci Larry Bruce 20 4
2005-06 Morenci Jim Bauer 20 4
1982-83 Whiteford John Rice 20 2

Morenci moving on to finals

By DOUG DONNELLY

EAST LANSING – Morenci gave new meaning to March madness Thursday evening in East Lansing.

The Bulldogs led by six points with 11 seconds remaining when a bizarre sequence of events gave previously undefeated Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes an opportunity to tie the game with :01 left on the clock, only to see an errant free throw give Morenci a 53-52 victory and a berth in Saturday morning’s Class D state championship game.

Morenci (24-2) will be playing for its first state title in school history.

“This is a lifelong dream,” Morenci coach Jim Bauer said.

The Bulldogs led after each quarter and led by as many as nine points in its first-ever semifinal appearance. Alex Thomas responded to nearly each of the Lakers late runs, however, with a key basket, free throw or rebound, keeping Morenci alive and in the lead.

Thomas made it 44-38 with under four minutes remaining after the Lakers were called for a flagrant foul as he went in for what looked to be an uncontested layup. Two straight Waterford baskets cut it to a two-point game however and the Lakers were whistled for a offensive foul on a basket that appeared to have tied the game.

Second later, Thomas again stepped to the line, making it 46-42.

Morenci built its lead to 51-45 with 1:03 left when the Lakers got a triple from All-Stater Nick Robak with :08 seconds left, making the score 53-50. After a Waterford timeout, Morenci tried to go deep with the inbounds pass, but Andrew Kline stepped in front of it, and found Robak, was attempted a game-tying three-pointer from the corner but was fouled by Blade Mellon with :01 left.

Robak made the first two free throws, but the third came up short and Torin Merillat grabbed the rebound and secured the Morenci win.

Robak led all scorers with 21 points as the Lakers’ 25-game winning streak came to an end.

Morenci, the Tri-County Conference champions, became the first TCC team to advance to the state finals since Sand Creek in 1992.

Thomas played a tremendous game, scoring 19 points and pulling down seven rebounds –both Bulldog highs.

“I knew I had to step up and do something,” Thomas said. “The shots were just falling.”

Sandusky – the team’s leading scorer at 14.0 points per game, was limited to 7 points – all in the second half, but he did tack on five assists.

Bauer said Sandusky told him three years ago the team would be playing at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State.

“He promised me he was going to take me there and he did,” Bauer said.

Tucker Stover fouled out with 9 points, including three triples. Morenci shot 7-18 from three-point range for the game, better than Waterford’s 4-15 effort from beyond the arc.

Morenci 53, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 52

WATEFORD (52)

Senerius 4-1-9, Lochbiler 1-0-2, Robak 5-2-5-21, Kline 4-2-0-12, Cartier 3-0-6, Skaer 1-0-02. Totals 17-4-6-52.

MORENCI (53)

Stover 0-3-0-9, Black 1-1-2-7, Merillat 3-0-6, Thomas 3-2-7-19, Sandusky 1-5-7, Mellon 0-1-0-3, Borton 1-0-2. Totals 9-7-14-53.

WOLL 5 10 19 18 = 52

MOR 13 9 15 16 = 53

Morenci wins – headed to state finals

Morenci held on for a 53-52 win over Waterford Our Lady.

5:38: Morenci with the ball and a 41-38 lead after WOLL comes up empty on possession in which they attempted four shots.

WOLL takes first lead since early in first quarter, 38-37, 6:45 left in the game.

Morenci starts fourth quarter with 37-34 lead.

Halftime: Morenci leads WOLL at halftime, 22-15. Six Bulldogs have scored in the game. Alex Thomas and Tucker Stover have 6 apiece.

Bobby Black hits a triple – Morenci leads 8-4.

5:15: Alex Thomas drains a 3 – Bulldogs lead 3-2.

FIRST QTR: The Bulldogs have opened the game at the Breslin Center – first TCC boys team to play on this court.