BY DAN STICKRADT
DETROIT — Rochester’s deep run into the boys basketball state tournament has been aided by a stifling defense that has wreaked havoc on all of its postseason opponents.
The Falcons finally met their match Tuesday in the Class A state quarterfinals at the University of Detroit-Mercy’s Calihan Hall.
Detroit Southeastern forced Rochester into 21 turnovers and limited the Falcons to just 1-for-16 shooting from three-point range and 17-for-48 shooting overall from the floor in posting a 54-49 triumph.
The double header which also included Romulus’ 93-91 victory over previously-unbeaten Detroit Pershing, drew over 6,100 fans to Calihan Hall.
“They just hit shots in the fourth quarter,” offered Rochester coach John Pleasant. “They went on a run in the fourth quarter and that was really the difference.”
Rochester (21-5) was making its first appearance in the state quarterfinals since 1950, some 63 years ago, and was trying to reach the state semifinals for the first time since that magical 1950 season, when the Rochester was still a small Class B school. The Falcons eventually lost to Grand Rapids Godwin Heights in the state semifinals that year.
Rochester came up one win shy of reaching that destination for the first time in over six decades.
Southeastern (20-5) advanced to its second Final Four in four seasons behind perhaps its best quarter of the postseason. The Jungaleers outscored Rochester 25-20 in the fourth quarter after the two teams were tied 29-29 heading into the final frame.
“I thought we did a great of (applying pressure) on James Young. We met him at half court instead of trying to guard him at the three-point line on in,” noted Southeastern coach George T. Ward. “We did a great job of containing him and we did a great job defending (the three-pointer) all night.
“We also started to hit some shots in the fourth quarter,” continued Ward. “We struggled early — both teams did. But we went on a little run in the fourth quarter and held them. off.”
Southeastern led 8-6 after the first quarter and 17-16 at the half. Rochester held a 13-12 edge in the third quarter as both teams shot under 30 percent up until that point.
Young, who finished third in the Mr. Basketball voting Monday but is a McDonald’s Al-American selection, was held to 18 points, 11 rebounds and two assists in his final prep game. Young was held to just 5-for-17 shooting, no three-pointers and was forced to score eight of his points from the foul line.
Arben Camaj, Rochester’s 6-foot-8 senior center, added 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots and senior guard Jamar Randolph added five points and four steals.
“Our goal was to get to Breslin. We have been a family all season long and that was our goal,” said a teary-eyed Young, bound for Kentucky. “We won our first regional in 63 years and we did it as a team. We just came up short.”
Senior guard Jovone Haynes scored a co-game-high 18 points with five rebounds and four steals for Southeastern, which was held to an 18-for-47 shooting night. Senior guard Kwesi Williams added 13 points and junior forward Daryl Bigham followed with eight points, six rebounds and three steals for the Jungaleers, who converted 15-of-19 free throws.
“That was one of our betters quarters (of the postseason),” said Ward of the fourth quarter.
The Jungaleers opened the quarter with an 11-5 run. Southeastern led by as many as eight points in the final frame, including 52-44 with 32.7 seconds left. Rochester responded with a quick 5-0 run to close the game down to 52-49 with 7.1 seconds left.
The Falcons could not force another turnover in the waning seconds.
Southeastern’s Williams iced the game with a couple of free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining. The Jungaleers were 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final 1:10 of the game to stave off Rochester’s comeback bid.
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