BOYS BASKETBALL: Waterford Lakecrest Baptist stepping up to try to repeat as state champions

| March 1, 2016 | Comments (0)



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WATERFORD — In an odd and bold move, Waterford Lakecrest Baptist will not try to defend its Michigan Association of Association Schools Division II state title this season.

That’s because the Defenders voluntarily moved up a division.

Lakecrest Baptist, which has around 30 students in grades 9-12, opted to move up to the MACS Division I state tournament this season — and the Defenders are still very much alive.

Lakecrest Baptist (21-4) posted a 43-36 victory Friday night over defending MACS-I state champion Troy Bethany Christian to advance to the state finals.

The Defenders will take on top-seeded Rochester Hills Christian at 5 p.m. Saturday at Clarkston Springfield Christian High School.

“We didn’t know we were going to do it at first, but we played a bunch of Division I size schools all year and it made sense,” noted Lakecrest Baptist coach Jon Dalton. “As it turns out, we didn’t lose to any Division II schools and we beat several Division I schools this year. We wanted the challenge, so we (voluntarily) moved up.”

Lakecrest Baptist captured the MACS-II crown in both 2011 and 2015 and also reached the MACS Division III Final Four back in 1995.

Dalton helped resurrect the program, which hadn’t enjoyed much success until recent years. He grew up at Temperance Stateline Christian, where he ranks amongst the top 10 all-time leading scorers in Monroe County history and won a MACS-I state title in 2002 as a player.

At Lakecrest Baptist, the school has assembled a talented cast of players under Dalton that has molded into a tight-knit unit and has won over 20 games two years in a row. A nine-man rotation has helped the Defenders garner wins against bigger teams and against schools with much larger enrollments.

“We don’t have much size and not one superstar, but we do have a well-rounded group that plays well together,” offered Dalton. “

Junior guard George Romeos leads Lakecrest at around 17 points an outing, while 6-foot-1 senior Phillip Dale averages around 15 points and 6-0 sophomore forward Sean White, a transfer from Ortonville Brandon, chips in 12 points a game.

Dale, who transferred over from Durham (N.C.) Fellowship Baptist last season — a school that won a state title in that state in 2014 — has made quite an impact. Isaac Sage, a 6-0 senior guard and defensive stopper, along with 5-9 senior point guard  Austyn Andeneaux, do a lot of the dirty work for Lakecrest Baptist.

Senior Corbin Sarofske, junior Josh Metern, and freshmen Stephen Dale and Jeff Matern make up the bench and apply depth for the Defenders.

The Defenders will have its work cut out for them, having to face the MACS Player of the Year candidate Ryan Patton, who leads Oakland County in scoring for the second straight season (34.2 points a game) and is one of Michigan’s premier scoring threats on the hardcourt.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on him and make sure he covered, if not doubled the whole game,” said Dalton of guarding Patton. “We’re well aware of him. We had someone (shadow) him the last time we played them. We’ll try to make someone else beat us. He’ll get his points, I’m sure. But if we can limit his (effectiveness), then it will help our chances.”

Rochester Hills Christian is making its fifth straight appearance in the MACS-I title game. The Eagles (24-2) won a title in 2013 and lost in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

“They have experience being there, but so do we,” said Dalton.  “It’s just in a different division, that’s all.”

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