On The Road: Michigan State Playoffs

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Our travels took us to the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State Friday afternoon. We watched Rockford High in the Class A semis as the Rams put their undefeated record on the line.

Rockford Advances To State Championship Game

Rockford (MI) High entered Friday's Class A semifinals against Murray-Wright with a perfect 26-0 record. They left the Breslin Center with their winning streak intact but it wasn't easy.

With 35 seconds remaining, Rockford guard Drew Powell stepped to the line and drilled a pair of free throws to tie the game at 58 apiece. Prior to Powell's freebies, Rockford trailed by 15 at the half and 10 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Rams comeback took the better part of two quarters but it wasn't complete.

With 9.1 seconds remaining, junior guard Michael Redell (9 points) provided Rockford with the working margin it needed to the seal the win. Redell's free throws made it 60-58 and proved to be the game-winners in the 62-61 victory.

Powell finished with a game-high 24 points. Murray-Wright small forward Michael Daniels had 22 points. He did a lot of good work – especially in the first half – when he had a hot hand from deep and was able to compliment that with a few slashes to the rim.

From a recruiting standpoint, the best prospect in the game was 6-9, 300 Anthony Sparks, a sophomore for Murray-Wright. Sparks had 8 points and 4 rebounds, but statistics matter little in discussing his future.

The lefty prefers to work just off the blocks where he can catch, face and then go to work. His early go-to move involves a few dribbles before he adeptly back his man down and uses a soft touch to get it done.

The young man is skilled and has a bright future. We say all this even though he's nowhere close to being in the shape he needs to. However, he passes the ball well, sees the court and scores with skill. He'll be fun to watch in the future.

Redell, a 2004 prospect, is hearing from a number of schools, many at the mid-major level. He's ranked the No. 3 point guard in Michigan's junior class by Prepspotlight. Prior to the game we'd seen tape of him and he's had and will have better games offensively. He went 1-for-7 from downtown and 6-for-9 from the line.

While he never found the groove on offense, he did demonstrate an ability to drive the ball deep and find shooters and cutters. His best moments in this one came on the defensive end where he moves extremely well and plays with toughness and pride.

NOTES – Rockford will play Flint Carman-Ainsworth for the championship on Saturday. … We understand – per Vince Baldwin of Prepspotlight – that Flint Beecher and DePorres will play for the Class C state title. Apparently, junior Marquise Gray went for 16 and 16 in the semis and another future Spartan, Brandon Cotton, also had a big night.

Rockford is coached by Steve Majerle, the brother of retired NBA standout Dan Majerle. In his 6 years at Rockford, Majerle is 116-29. …

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