Ypsilanti clinches first regional title since 1981 with 65-58 win over South Lyon
Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com
The look on LaVonte Davis’ face said it all.
With his team down by four to South Lyon at halftime, the Ypsilanti senior forward led his teammates back onto the court. With a look of singular determination on his face, he clapped, first to toward the crowd then toward his teammates.
“I just didn’t want to lose,” Davis said. “It’s my senior year, it’s been four years of great times. I just didn’t want it to end.”
The Phoenix followed that lead, pulling away down the stretch for a 65-58 regional final win Wednesday night at Huron High School.
The win gives Ypsilanti its first regional title since 1981. The Phoenix now advance to the Class A state quarterfinals, where it will play defending state champion Saginaw High, who beat Lapeer West 74-55 on Tuesday.
Ypsilanti and Saginaw will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Grand Blanc High School with the winner advancing to the state semifinals next weekend at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
After going back-and-forth for the first four minutes of the second half, Ypsilanti went on a 14-5 run in the rest of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth and didn't trail again.
After Ypsilanti’s Jacob Simmons hit a bucket at the end of the third to put the Phoenix up one, Ypsilanti scored a pair of buckets in 38 seconds to go up five and force South Lyon to call a timeout.
“I think we clamped down a lot more defensively,” Davis said of the second half. “Offensively, I think we went inside and took advantage of mismatches.”
Junior guard Janeau Joubert led Ypsilanti with 15 points, followed by Jaylen Johnson with 14 and Corey Allen with 13.
After a scoreless third quarter, Joubert scored six points in the fourth and helped steady the Phoenix in the second half.
“He got us calmed down,” Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks said. “He’s our steadying force right there.”
Conner Weideman led South Lyon with 15 points, followed by Bill Harrison with 14 and Luke Short with 12.
The Lions came out and hit six 3-pointers in the first half, and negated their significant size disadvantage by fronting Ypsilanti’s forwards and having extra defenders help out.
“The coach really had them ready,” Brooks said of South Lyon. “They ran real hard cuts, they were disciplined and they shot it with confidence. That’s got a lot to do with it.”
But in the second half, the Phoenix contested more open shots, got the ball down low to its big men, Davis and Johnson. Ypsilanti also finished with a 36-19 rebounding advantage, and Davis grabbed six rebounds in the third quarter alone and had 12 for the game.
And while Davis may have finished with just five points offensively, his presence on the floor was no small part of Ypsilanti’s win.
“If you’ve got the right attitude in that locker room, man you can go a long way,” Brooks said. “They can get the other guys to buy in.”