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Posted on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

Ypsilanti advances to district final but loses key player; Milan falls to Bedford

By Matt Durr

Ypsilanti High School boys basketball coach Steve Brooks said his team needs to execute better than it did in its 44-33 win over Saline on Wednesday night to win a district title on Friday.

That will be easier said than done as the Phoenix will likely be without starting point guard Derrick Richardson. Richardson injured his ankle at Milan High School and Brooks said following the game he is unlikely to play in Friday's district final against Temperance Bedford.

“He’s a bit shaky right now, so he probably won’t play Friday,” Brooks said. “But like we told the team, this is why you need to step up and keep it rolling. This is why we cut and keep.”

With just under a minute to play in the game, Richardson was retreating on defense when he rolled his right ankle. He had to be helped off the court by a team trainer and could be seen limping badly after the game. At the time of the injury Ypsilanti was winning 42-31.

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The Phoenix (17-3) found themselves in an unexpected dog fight with the Hornets (9-13) after taking an 11-4 lead into the second quarter. Tristan Simmons scored seven of his team-high 14 points in the opening frame and Ypsilanti appeared to be on its way to an easy win.

But midway through the second quarter, Ypsilanti hit a cold streak offensively and managed 11 points in the next 13 minutes, allowing Saline to hang around. The Hornets trailed 23-10 at the break.

But with the Phoenix struggling on offense, Saline was able to make the game interesting again.

“Our whole goal defensively was to make them uncomfortable. I think the triangle-and-two really bothered them in the second half,” said Saline coach Matt Seidl. “We just couldn’t generate enough offense. Clearly the best defensive team we’ve gone against.”

Michael Smutny scored a game-high 20 points for the Hornets while pulling down nine rebounds to help lead the comeback attempt.

“He’s just one of the best leaders that I’ve ever coached. This is clearly his team,” said Seidl. “He’s made coming into a new program easy. He’s a super kid and he’s been a pleasure.”

The Hornets held Ypsilanti to six points in the third quarter and entered the fourth trailing 29-20. The closest Saline would get in the final frame was seven points.

“We just had to calm down on offense and clean up our mistakes on defense and settle people down,” Simmons said.

After the game, Brooks said he expected sophomore Janeau Joubert to fill in for Richardson. Although his team wasn’t at its best, Brooks wasn’t down on his guys.

“Sometimes the wins are going to be ugly, but we’ll take em’,” Brooks said.

Ypsilanti will play Bedford -- a 53-49 winner over Milan on Wednesday -- in Friday's district final at Milan High School.

Bedford outlasts Milan

A tough regular season schedule finally paid off for Temperance Bedford as they defeated Milan, 53-49, on Milan’s home court. In the process, the Kicking Mules set a school record for most wins in a season with 17.

With the two teams tied 41-41 with 3:55 left to play, Bedford was able to remain composed and make baskets and capitalize on its free throw attempts to advance to Friday’s game against Ypsilanti.

“I think the difference in the fourth quarter was because of our league, we’ve been in that position before and have had some success,” said Bedford coach Nick Lowe. “This environment, and the fourth quarter, that wasn’t something that was new to us.”

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“We knew what we were getting into as soon as we got on the court,” said Bedford’s Jackson Lamb. “We really wanted it.”

Lamb scored a game-high 20 points and was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final minutes. In those final four minutes, Bedford as a team shot 7-for-10 from the line.

The game went back-and-forth all from the opening tip as neither side could put the other away. Tied at nine after the first quarter, Bedford went on an 11-4 run and led 20-15 at the half.

Coming out of the break, both sides traded baskets for the first few minutes until Milan, and more specifically Andre Duffin, went on a 10-0 run. Duffin would finish the game with a team-high 17 points.

With the score 27-21 with 4:04 left in the quarter, Duffin scored on back-to-back transition layups. On Milan’s next two trips down the floor, he hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Milan took a 31-27 lead before Lowe took a timeout.

“Andre really got going in the third quarter,” said Milan coach Josh Tropea. “I thought he had a really good game on the offensive end.”

Following that run, Milan was unable to find that offensive groove again.

“We really struggled to be consistent on the offensive end tonight,” said Tropea. “We had a hard time finding baskets. Their half-court defense really stifled us in the fourth quarter.”

After Bedford started making their free throws late, Milan had to start forcing shots and when they didn’t fall, Bedford was able to ice it at the line.

“Our kids are pretty resilient, and they came and they battled,” Lowe said. “They took the lead and they hung on to it.”

Contact Matt Durr at