The celebration began after Southfield Christian claimed the Class D state championship March 24 in East Lansing.

The celebration began after Southfield Christian claimed the Class D state championship March 24 in East Lansing.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


Southfield Christian tops Buckley, regains top spot as Class D boys basketball champs

By: Mike Moore | Southfield Sun | Published March 24, 2018

 Southfield Christian's Caleb Hunter leads the Eagles offense in the state final. Hunter finished the game with 13 points.

Southfield Christian's Caleb Hunter leads the Eagles offense in the state final. Hunter finished the game with 13 points.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

 Southfield Christian's Harlond Beverly finished the final with 23 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and four assists.

Southfield Christian's Harlond Beverly finished the final with 23 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and four assists.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

EAST LANSING — From the moment last year’s heartbreak became painfully official, this game was a must, this trophy was theirs.

Sure, there was a season to play, games to be had, and in all fairness, any other team in Class D had a fair shot at a state tile.

But this was theirs for the taking, and Saturday morning at the Breslin Center, the Southfield Christian boys basketball team took it.

Heartbreak over.

The Eagles are once again state champs.

“Incredibly proud of these guys,” head coach Josh Baker said simply shortly after his team defeated Buckley High 64-54. “These are great young men.”

Nearly a year to the day of last year’s 84-83 double-overtime loss to Powers North Central in a Class D semifinal game on this same court, the Eagles arrived in East Lansing Saturday morning like a heavyweight fighter taking on an opponent with a predetermined fate.

Junior Harlond Beverly knocked down a jump shot for a 2-0 lead, and then moments later slammed home another for a 4-0 start.

Beverly accounted for the first 11 Eagles points, outscoring Buckley 11-5 by himself.

“It felt like the rim was as big as an ocean,” Beverly said with a smile.

By the time the opening eight minutes concluded, Southfield Christian led 21-10.

“That was a great start,” Baker said of his squad, and Beverly in particular. “He brought a lot of energy. He also made some big plays in transition. I thought we struggled the rest of the game, so his start was the game.”

Struggling may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Buckley kept things somewhat interesting for a while.

The Eagles led 35-24 at halftime, but Buckley narrowed the gap to 49-42 entering the fourth.

The opening seconds set the tone, though, as Beverly slammed home another, and moments later Caleb Hunter drilled a 3-pointer for a 54-42 lead.

The title was all but theirs.

“We don’t see teams like that up north,” Buckley coach Blair Moss said of Southfield Christian. "We can’t match that up north. It’s hard to scout them.”

Moments after the trophy was presented, Hunter and the rest of the team poured into the bleachers with their friends and family.

“That was so crazy,” Hunter said. “I haven’t felt anything better in my life. I was just scared i was going to drop the trophy.”

“I knew Southfield Christian had a winning tradition,” said Beverly, who transferred to the school prior to last season. “I wanted to be part of that.”

He certainly did his best, finishing with a team-high 23 points, eight steals, six blocks and four assists.

Southfield Christian's depth was apparent all morning, as Hunter finished with 13 points, Bryce Washington added 12, and Da’Jion Humphrey added 11.

The Eagles finished the season 23-5 despite playing one of the toughest schedules Baker had ever assembled.

“Part of the deal with our program and the mentality as a coaching staff is how do we get our guys better at every opportunity?” he said. “We want to play the best competition as much as we can. If we stink at rebounding, then we get better. If we get killed defensively, then we have to learn how to guard those actions.”

Asked if winning a state title was the primary objective this winter, Baker smiled, saying, “definitely.”

“We put into our minds, we had to get back, we had to get back,” Hunter said. “We had to redeem ourselves from that loss (last year). To win this and make up for that is incredible. … This was our only goal.”

“Means a lot for this team,” Washington said. “It puts us on the map. It’s great to be back here.”

The state title was the fourth for Southfield Christian, which won three in a row from 2012 through 2014.

Buckley (21-6) also lost in last year’s final.