BOYS BASKETBALL:  Finally the Victor: Troy Bethany Christian topples Rochester Hills Christian for first MACS state title | North Oakland Sports

BOYS BASKETBALL:  Finally the Victor: Troy Bethany Christian topples Rochester Hills Christian for first MACS state title

| March 4, 2015 | Comments (0)



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CLARKSTON — It took 40 years, but Troy Bethany Christian is finally a state champion in boys basketball.

The Bruins, the top-seed team in the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I boys basketball state tournament, captured their first-ever state championship Saturday at Clarkston Springfield Christian with a 52-40 victory over rival second-seeded Rochester Hills Christian.

Bethany Christian (16-4) led 25-17 at the half, ballooned the lead up to 33-17 in the third quarter and held off an early fourth-quarter charge by the Eagles to stake claim to the promised land. RHC had cut the deficit to nine points early in the fourth quarter.

The Bruins have won MACS state titles in boys soccer, wrestling, baseball, girls basketball, girls soccer and girls volleyball over the years, but had never even reached the finals in boys basketball until this season.

“It was good for the school. The fan support we had all year … we drew a really big crowd for the finals,” offered veteran Bethany Christian coach Jack Walker, who is in his 29th season at the helm. “It was nice for everyone to be a part of this.”

The two teams split during the regular season en route to sharing the Fundamental Baptist Athletic Conference Red Division title. This time around, the Bruins utilized their depth and size advantage to thwart Rochester Hills Christian (17-7) and junior guard Ryan Patton, the leading scorer in Oakland County this season out of over 70 high schools.

Patton, who averaged 31 points an outing, was limited to 17 points in the loss for RHC, which reached the final for the third season in a row. The Eagles won the crown in 2013 and lost in the 2014 finals.

This season, they battled despite losing six players and four starters to graduation in 2014 but still made an unexpected run.

“When I look at the big picture, I am not upset because nobody thought that we would be here at the beginning of the season,” said RHC coach Jon Bronsing. “We lost four starters from last year’s team and six players overall and all of them played minutes for us.  That’s a lot to lose. We only really had three players back that saw minutes last season. But Ryan Patton and Brandon Tuttle stepped up and led this team and we did a lot better than what anybody thought we would have done.”

Kevin Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-2 junior, led Bethany Christian with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Junior guard Zach Combs had 10 points, senior point guard Angelo Mansour had a fine floor game with 13 points and seven assists and juniors Jake King (6-4) and Casey Smith (6-3) caused additional fits for the Eagles with their size on the inside.

JT Bishop and Brendan Cathers also did a solid job slowing down the uber-talented Patton, the sole returning starter this season for Rochester Hills Christian.

“I thought they did a nice job rotating on Patton. He’s a very talented player,” noted Walker. “Most teams could not stop him this year. I know he scored more than 50 in one game.

“I think they might have been a little tired after going to overtime on Friday. I think we kind of wore them down.”

Rochester Hills Christian toppled Temperance Stateline Christian 71-66 in overtime in Friday’s semifinals behind Patton’s 44 points. This time around the Eagles could not find the same magic.

Tuttle, a senior, finished with seven points for Rochester Hills Christian.

“Maybe that took something out of us, but I don’t want to make excuses. Bethany played really well this time. They are a very deep team and they have some really good size,” said Bronsing. “Bethany has some strong players. I have total respect for Angelo Mansour. He is a very talented player. He holds it all together for them. I thought, as a team, they did a good job slowing us down. They definitely had the size advantage on us and they used nine, 10 guys. We didn’t have the depth this season to match that like we did the past few years.”

Troy Bethany, which had lost in the semifinals four times in Walker near-tree decades tenure with the Bruins, will return six of its top nine players for next season. The Bruins lost four games this year by a combined eight points, including a 52-50 overtime loss to RHC back in December.

“We were competitive in all of our games this season and I think we learned from our losses,” offered Walker. “I think we could be a good team again next year. We return most of our team. Of the nine guys that got into the game (in the finals, we return six of them. We were able to go really deep into our bench this season. I think we used 10 guys in the semifinals. Being able to rotate that many players makes a difference at the end of a game.”

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Category: Basketball, Featured Articles, High School, High School (M-Z), Most Recently Updated Stories, Prep Wraps, Rochester Hills Christian, Sport, Stats / Area Leaders, Top Stories, Troy Bethany Christian, Uncategorized

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