LCN boys hoops wins first ever regional title
Crusaders defeat Denby, headed to state quarterfinals
By Jon Malavolti
C & G Staff Writer
L'Anse Creuse North's Ramone Griffin, pictured during districts, scored the winning basket as the Crusaders edged Detroit Denby March 14 in a Class A regional final at Anchor Bay.
FAIR HAVEN — March madness, indeed.
Macomb L’Anse Creuse North’s boys basketball team has proven to have a flair for the dramatic as the state tournament progresses.
The Crusaders (21-4) won the first regional title in program history March 14 with a 43-41 victory over Detroit Denby (12-11) at Anchor Bay.
LCN advances to play Lake Orion (16-9) in a 7:30 p.m. Class A state quarterfinal at University of Detroit-Mercy’s Calihan Hall.
Two days after edging Fraser High 51-50 in the final seconds of a March 12 regional semifinal, LCN again went down to the wire with the Tars.
Denby tied the game at 41 with 30 seconds to play on a 3-pointer from senior Markus Franklin. The Crusaders then held on to the ball for the final shot.
With about seven seconds remaining, LCN junior Tyler Conklin, the MVP of the Macomb Area Conference Red Division, drove to the hoop from outside the 3-point line.
Despite a group of Tars defenders stepping into his path, Conklin got a shot off from a few feet away from the basket.
While the defensive pressure was enough to force a miss, LCN junior Ramone Griffin rose above the crowd to tip the ball in with a little less than two seconds remaining.
Denby got a good look at a long buzzer-beater attempt, but the ball bounced off the backboard and glanced the rim before falling to the floor as the LCN players and fans erupted into a celebration.
“Tyler took the shot; we were happy with him getting it in there, and Ramone followed. It’s been a team effort all year,” LCN coach Jay Seletsky said. “It’s a different guy stepping up every time. It’s pretty impressive.”
It seemed like each time the Crusaders would build a decent lead, the Tars cut right back into it by harassing LCN with heavy pressure and into turnovers.
“We knew the ball pressure was going to be a little bit of a factor,” Seletsky said. “I thought our kids handled it well for the most part. Fortunately, we got out of here with a win.”
While Seletsky said his team hadn’t really faced another squad with the caliber of speed and quickness that Denby possessed, it was the Crusaders slowing things down more to their liking that was vital for the win.
“That was the difference tonight, we kept it our tempo,” he said. “I told our assistant, 'if we can hold it under 50, I like our chances.'”
Conklin led the Crusaders with 14 points. Junior Robert Hopkins 13 points while Griffin finished with eight.
“We’ve never won a regional game in school history. To win a regional championship feels great,” Conklin said. “We knew we could do it. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we came out on top.
Denby was led by senior Michael Hampton, who finished with a game-high 15 points. Franklin scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Tars, while classmate Keith Sykes added eight points on the night.