BIRMINGHAM – The Lahser boys basketball team has earned itself a day off.
The Knights beat 60-43 on Friday night at to win their first district championship since 2000.
“We’ve gone 14 straight days (with a game or practice),” Lahser coach Duane Graves said. “It’s tough. We had three games this week, we’ve done it once before, but it isn’t easy.”
On Friday, the long stretch without a rest started to catch up to Graves’ team. The Knights hit a brick wall in the third quarter after they extended a 35-20 halftime-lead to 19 points.
The Falcons hit three 3-pointers and then forced back-to-back turnovers in Lahser’s backcourt. Ross Williams and Emmanuel Thomas each turned steals into layups to cut the lead to 42-32.
An unfortunate injury to Falcons guard Grant Henderson drained any momentum they had and actually helped the Knights catch their breath.
Henderson went up for a layup on the final play of the third with his team down 46-36. As the buzzer sounded, the senior landed awkwardly on his left leg and collapsed to the ground. He suffered a serious injury to his left knee.
Trainers and coaches surrounded Henderson until paramedics arrived. Henderson’s leg was immobilized and he was carted off on a stretcher.
“It’s horrible, doesn’t get any worse than that,” Groves coach Scott Sheckell said.
The injury timeout lasted over 20 minutes and players were given five minutes to warm-up before the fourth quarter started.
“I think that long layover helped us get some rest,” Graves said. “It really helped our starters got some fresh air.”
Knights guard Martez Jones looked particularly sharp in the fourth. With about five minutes left in the game, he had back-to-back fast break layups to extend Lahser’s lead back up to 16 points.
“In the first half, my shot was off, but the coaches said you’re doing good just play defense,” Jones said. “My confidence was there. In the fourth quarter, the points just came to me. It’s a great feeling.”
Jones scored eight of his team’s 14 points in the quarter.
“He was huge,” Graves said. “He’s our best kept secret, no one ever talks about him. They keep talking about our sophomores, but they keep forgetting to mention one kid — Martez Jones. He’s just been so solid all year.”
For Groves, it was a tough way to end the season. Beyond Henderson’s injury, an emotional Sheckell was not happy with the way the referees called the game.
“We made runs, we didn’t get any calls the whole game,” he said. “There were so many bad calls I don’t even know where to begin.”
He credited his kids for fighting through the circumstances as he said they have all season.
Junior Kyle Ervin was the only Falcons player in double-digits with 10 points. Lahser sophomore Yante Maten had a game-high 18 points. Khalil Gracey added 13.
After the win, the Knights celebrated by bringing their district trophy to the fans. They had a large student fan section for all three playoff games they played at Seaholm this week.
“It’s an amazing feeling, the atmosphere, everything was great,” Jones said.
Lahser advances to the regional semifinals where it will take on Lake Orion on Monday at 7 p.m. The Dragons are the host of the regional, so the game will be on their court after Southfield and Waterford Mott play in the early matchup.
“The district is just one more step on our ladder,” Graves said. “We’re going to have to be ready on Monday and get ready for Lake Orion.”