Saginaw jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Geryn Reese got Romulus on the board with a lay-up at the 6:45 mark. The senior forward was the early scoring punch for his team, scoring five of the Eagles first seven to narrow the deficit to three, (10-7), two-and-a-half minutes into the first.
The game remained tight until Saginaw's Larry Wright really began to assert himself in the latter part of the quarter. The junior point guard scored eight points (including back to back three-pointers) to give the Trojans a 23-17 lead with a minute remaining in the period. Romulus countered, though, scoring five points down the stretch to end the quarter down one, 23-22.
The second quarter saw the Trojans expand their lead once again behind the one-two punch of Emmanuel and Josh Southern down low and more outside shooting from Wright. The Southern Brothers combined for 12 points in the first half, while Wright had 11. That was enough to send Saginaw into the locker room with a 36-31 lead.
Heading into the break, Romulus Coach Nate Oats knew he had to make an adjustment to jumpstart his team. The Eagles were 10/34 (29.4%) from the field and 2/12 (16.7%) from three-point range in the first half, while the Trojans were 15/30 (50%) from the field and 5/7 (71.4%) from three. When Oats emerged from the locker room he made a move that completely changed the momentum of the game.
Romulus came out in a 1-2-2 and totally disrupted the Trojans offensive flow. Saginaw was held to four points in the third quarter and was outscored 22-4 over a ten-and-a-half minute span that extended into the final stanza. When the dust settled, Romulus had secured a 52-40 lead with 6:38 left in the game. Oats knew that the zone would ignite his team, but was surprised that Saginaw didn't adjust to it more quickly.
"Nothing else was working at that time," Oats said of his team's performance heading into the third quarter. "That's something we go to if we just can't seem to get it going. I talked to my assistant coaches and they said, 'hey lets go with it.' We went with it, the kids played hard in it, and they didn't do a good job of figuring it out. I was waiting until they figured it out. Usually a team would figure it out and we would have to go back to man. But we never had to come out of it. "
Saginaw mounted a late comeback with a 10-2 run, keyed by back to back threes from Jamar Hibler and Robert Mcduffy. That cut the lead to four (54-50) with 3:46 remaining, but the Eagles were not to be denied. Romulus responded with an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach, and went on to win the gam 67-58.
Avery Stevenson led the charge for Romulus with 17 points and seven rebounds. Jerret Smith, who effectively handled Saginaw's press all day long, finished with 12 points, six steals, and three assists. Jamar Hibler led Saginaw with 16 points and four rebounds. For more on the game, click here.
The Eagles will face talented sophomore center Paul Crosby and the Holt Rams in the Class A final tomorrow at 4pm. Romulus' head man pointed to a major improvement his team will have to make if they are to come out victorious. "We have to shoot the ball better," Oats said. "We were 3/21 from three. I think that we are one of the best shooting teams in the state and we looked like one of the worst shooting teams tonight. We just have to play with a little more confidence on the offensive end."
State Semifinal Results
Class A Final - March 19 - 4 pm
Romulus (22-5) vs. Holt (25-2)
Class B Final - March 19 - 8 pm
Muskegon Heights (26-1) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (25-1)
Class C Final - March 19 - Noon
Unionville-Sebewaing (22-4) vs. Olivet (27-0)
Class D Final - March 19 - 10 am
Bellaire (26-0) vs. Detroit Rogers (22-4)