Dream Come True: L'Anse Creuse North Headed To Breslin
Fourth quarter comeback gives Crusaders a 46-40 win over Lake Orion in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night at the University of Detroit Mercy.
DETROIT – There was only room for one Cinderella at the big dance this year.
Considered one of the more unlikely Class A quarterfinal pairings in recent memory, L’Anse Creuse North kept its title hopes alive with a 46-40 win over Lake Orion on Tuesday night at University of Detroit Mercy.
“It’s been a dream ride,” Crusaders coach Jay Seletsky said, smiling.
With an 11-2 run to open the fourth quarter, Seletsky’s team quickly erased a 29-26 deficit.
Forward Ramone Griffin scored back-to-back layups on L’Anse Creuse North’s first two possessions of the quarter to give his team a 32-31 lead. Teammate Robert Hopkins extended the lead to six by scoring the next five points.
The junior capped off the run by hitting a 3-pointer with 4:59 to go in the game, putting his team up 37-31. Lake Orion (16-10) wouldn’t get back within five points.
Dragons coach Tom Risi wasn’t surprised the Crusaders came roaring back in the fourth.
“The scouting report on them is if the games are close, they respond,” he said. “They are a pressure team and they showed it tonight.”
In the regular season, L’Anse Creuse North won eight games decided by five points or less. Its combined margin of victory in the regionals was three points.
“The will to win for this team is unparalleled,” Seletsky said. “We know sometimes maybe we’re outmanned a little bit, but if we keep it close we’re are always going to have a chance to win because of our leadership. They don’t expect to loss if it’s a close game."
Risi said the Crusaders (22-4) were a different team defensively in the fourth quarter.
“I thought defensively they clamped down,” he said. “They didn’t let us do what we wanted to do. We had four of five different plays, they didn’t let us get into our sets. They were very physical.”
Guard Tyler Conklin was the catalyst for L’Anse Creuse North on defense. The junior had an off-night shooting the ball, so he made sure to get his team going in other ways. He had a couple of big steals and blocks in the quarter that lead to transition baskets.
“We were only hitting buckets here and there,” Conklin said. “So we really needed to step up on defense.”
Conklin also made sure to keep feeding the ball to Hopkins, who was the go-to guy for L’Anse Creuse North in the fourth. He scored 11 of his team-high 15 points down the stretch.
“Robert had the hot hand,” Conklin said. “He’s a tremendous player and a great shooter. I’m proud of him.”
Conklin finished the game with nine points. Sophomore forward Frank DeVos had six points.
Sophomore John McCarty did his best to keep Lake Orion in the game. He led all scorers with18 points, but 10 of those came in the first half. The Dragons weren’t able to attack the basket and go inside they like normally are used to.
“If you look at our shot selection tonight, it was awful,” Risi said. “We score a lot on the inside, but most of our shots were mid-range shots and that’s not typically how we score.”
But despite the loss, Risi called his team’s performance this season a huge step forward for the basketball program. He believes this “taste of success” will push his team going into next season.
“Great first step,” he said. “We’ve built a solid foundation, we are returning seven kids who played major minutes this year. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be.”
L’Anse Creuse North now turns its attention to the semifinals. The Crusaders head to the Breslin Center on Friday for a semifinals game against Saginaw at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s a dream I’ve always had,” Conklin said of playing at the Breslin.