Romulus Outlasts St. Mary's 54-48

The Eagles advance to the Breslin Center in East Lansing after defeating the Eaglets Tuesday night. Romulus used their quickness and unrelenting defense to move on to face Detroit Pershing (21-4) Friday at 2:50 p.m. for a chance to play for the state title.

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HIGHLAND, Mich. – At Milford High School Tuesday night, Romulus (22-3) knocked Orchard Lake St. Mary's (17-6) out of the state tournament in a seesaw battle, reinforcing the idea that March was made for basketball.

The Eagles advance to the Breslin Center in East Lansing after defeating the Eaglets 54-48. Led by Will Clyburn, who hit three from three-point land and finished the night with 14 points, Romulus used their quickness and unrelenting defense to move on to face Detroit Pershing (21-4) Friday at 2:50 p.m. for a chance to play for the state title.

Romulus led by 12 at halftime, only to see that lead disappear by end of the third period. St. Mary's battled back to tie the game at 40 heading into the fourth, only to be outscored 14-8 in the final frame.

George Porritt, St. Mary's head coach, is disappointed the season is over but knows his team lost to worthy competition

"You have to give them a lot of credit, I thought their half court defense was very good," Porritt said. "Boy, I'll tell you what, every time we tried to make a move, they'd fight you on D really hard and every basket was a tough basket."

At least one Romulus player agrees with Porritt's assessment: sophomore winger DeAndre Buckley, who scored eight points in the game.

"The key was our defense," Buckley said. "We came out and played hard and tried to keep their post man under control — keep Dion Sims under control."

St. Mary's Sims scored 11 points for the evening and made good on six of seven from the charity stripe. "It's terrible to make it this far and lose," Sims said. "We came out and did our best, but just couldn't finish."

Sims said he noticed the extra attention Buckley mentioned. "I tried to get my teammates involved. I tried to come off screens and get myself open, but it just wasn't really clicking that well," Sims said.

The key to St. Mary's valiant comeback attempt was center Davide Curletti, who finished the night with 14 points. "Curletti got special there for a little bit," Porritt said, "he was a bull on the boards and rebounded everything in sight."

But the Eagles ultimately contained Curletti, Sims, and the rest of the St. Mary's squad through suffocating defense.

"They're a good defensive club and they do a solid job getting back on defense," Porritt said. "I thought that was the difference in the game."

Romulus will attempt to return to the championship game for the first time since 2005, when they lost to Holt. This time, the team dreams of an even more memorable trip to mid-Michigan. "Hopefully, it's a good one," Buckley said.

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