BOYS BASKETBALL: Stoney Creek dispatches Linden to reach Sweet 16 for first time

| March 15, 2017 | Comments (0)



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GRAND BLANC — Fresh off its first-ever district title, Rochester Stoney Creek vowed to stick around in the Class A boys basketball state tournament just a little longer.

The Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in their 15-year history with a resounding 53-39 victory over upstart Linden in the regional semifinals Monday at Grand Blanc High School.

Stoney Creek (19-5) matched a school record for wins and earned a date with state powerhouse and fourth-ranked Clarkston in the regional finals Wednesday at Grand Blanc.

“The Sweet 16 — it does have a nice ring to it,” said Stoney Creek coach Steve Norgrove, who has guided the Cougars on their longest postseason journey in the 15 years of the school. “The kids have bought in and believed they could do it. They are being rewarded for all of their efforts. We might not be the most talented team. But we are one of the hardest working teams left out there.”

Junior forward Michael Melaragni, one the state’s top soccer stars who should be one of the front-runners for Mr. Soccer in 2017, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds — both which are game highs — to go along with four assists and two blocked shots. 

Ever time that Linden made a push, Melaragni seemingly made a clutch play to kickstart a run and help the Cougars pull away.

“We just want to keep playing,” said Melaragni. the “It’s an honor to do this for Stoney Creek and all of the others )(players) that came before me that never had the chance to do this.”

Linden opened the game with a three-pointer by senior Tyler Hoeberling. Stoney Creek answered with a 7-0 run to take the lead and never trailed again.

The Cougars led 11-7 after the first quarter and 25-16 at the half.

Linden, which finished 6-for-20 from three-point range, closed to within 34-28 on a deep pro-range three from sophomore Aaron Sarkon with 6:09 remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles (9-14) could not get any closer after that point.

Stoney Creek extended the advantage to 44-34 by the end of the third frame before holing a 9-5 edge in the fourth quarter. The Cougars led by as many as 19 points (53-34) in the fourth quarter.

Junior guard Nate Davis added 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Cougars, who recorded 14 assists on 20 made baskets. Junior guard Andrew Carson added seven points and five rebounds, while senior forward Matt Caruso chipped in with seven rebounds and three assists.

Stoney Creek finished the night 20-for-46 from the floor, converted 7-of-10 free throws and sank 6-of-19 three-pointers.

Hoeberling led Linden with 10 points. Sarkon added nine points and nine rebounds, and junior guard Garrett Strong had a fine floor game with three points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocks for the Eagles.

This season marked the first district title for Linden as a Class A school. The Eagles were held 12-for-47 shooting (25.6 percent), including just 6-for-20 from three-point range.

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