Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
By Steve Kaminski | Skaminsk@mlive.com | Posted March 07, 2019 at 11:15 PM | Updated March 07, 2019 at 11:34 PM
Christopher Brown, kneeling, awaits the medal presentation after East Kentwood defeated Hudsonville 61-60 Thursday night, March 7, 2019 at West Ottawa High School (Steve Kaminski | MLive.com)
HOLLAND – East Kentwood boys basketball coach Jeff Anama told Christopher Brown a little lie moments before his senior stepped to free throw line and won the game for the Falcons.
Brown sank a pair of free throws with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation Thursday night at West Ottawa, giving East Kentwood a 61-60 victory over Hudsonville and the team’s first regional championship since 2002.
“I told him there is a friend of yours in the crowd, and he told me you are not going to make these,” Anama said.
So…did Brown’s friend really say that?
“No, I made that up,” Anama said. “I made that up so he would focus on trying to prove himself.”
Brown’s free throws earned the Falcons a trip to Tuesday’s Division 1 quarterfinals at Caledonia High School. The Falcons will play Okemos at 7 p.m. after Okemos defeated DeWitt 39-34 Thursday.
Anama called Brown a good free throw shooter, but Brown did miss two free throws late in an early-season loss to Forest Hills Northern. But Brown was Mr. Clutch Thursday.
“There was a lot going through my mind,” Brown said. “I told myself to relax and calm down. It was the best feeling ever. To win a game for your team is the best feeling ever.”
JA'MONI JONES GOES OFF
East Kentwood Falcons Ryel Daye (4) and Ja'Moni Jones (1) hang out before they play Muskegon on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at West Ottawa High School. East Kentwood defeated Muskegon 68-62.
The Falcons (16-9) pulled out the win after the Eagles had beaten East Kentwood twice during the OK Red Conference season. And Hudsonville came from way back Thursday to take a 60-59 lead with 10 seconds left in regulation.
East Kentwood junior Ja’moni Jones led all scorers with 34 points, and he helped the Falcons open up a 43-21 third-quarter lead. The Falcons led by 19 points early in the fourth quarter before the Eagles came storming back.
Hudsonville turned up the pressure on defense, and junior guard Max Perez got hot. Perez, who missed nine games this season due to a broken thumb before returning for districts, sparked the Eagles with 21 points. Perez scored 11 of them in the fourth quarter, and he tied the game at 59-59 with a layup with 10 seconds to go. Perez was fouled and sank a free throw to give Hudsonville its first lead since the Eagles were up 2-0.
“I’m super proud of them for the way they battled,” Hudsonville coach Eric Elliott said. “To take the lead and end up losing it on a couple of free throws. Our guys played their hearts out. We challenged them before the game to leave it on the floor, and I think they did that.”
16 GAME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED
The Eagles concluded the season 22-3 overall, and Thursday’s loss snapped their 16-game winning streak.
“We went to the halfcourt trap, and I think it was a combination of that and them playing with a big lead, and that’s always a tough thing,” Elliott said of Hudsonville’s fourth-quarter rally. “You don’t want to take quick shots and you are trying to milk the clock with a big lead. We were playing with a sense of urgency. I think we played thinking way too much for two-and-a-half quarters.”
'THIS IS A BIG MOMENT FOR OUR SCHOOL!
East Kentwood and Hudsonville played to a 12-12 tie after the first quarter, but the Falcons went on a 16-2 second-quarter run to take a 28-14 halftime lead. The Falcons then opened the second-half with a 10-3 run.
“We haven’t been here since 2002, so this is a big moment for our school,” Jones said. “Basketball is a game of runs. We went on our run, and they came back and went on their run. We just had to stay focused and finish the game.”
East Kentwood coach Jeff Anama chats with his team during a time out on Thursday, March 7, 2019. The Falcons defeated Hudsonville 61-60 in Division 1 regional final action at West Ottawa High School. (Steve Kaminski | MLive.com)
“We are going to give our fans their moneys worth. We are never going to win easy. We are going to make it hard on ourselves,” Anama said. “Now, credit Hudsonville. They are a great team and had a great season. Their kids have a lot of character and play hard the whole way. But obviously, I’m proud of my kids for coming through at the end.
“This is great for our community. Our kids are a big part of our school, and the whole school and the community are excited. I’m happy for all of Kentwood.”