Livonia Stevenson loses to Ann Arbor Huron, MHSAA Regional Finals
Ann Arbor Huron has been in the Region 5 Championship from basketball’s first inbound.
River Rats senior Tyson Edmonson shot two feet behind the 3-point line, losing the team’s first points to Livonia Stevenson. The Spartans took possession and responded, with Senior Guard Evan Asante linking the game to a 3-pointer of their own.
But as the first quarter continued, the offensive from Huron (18-0) continued and Stevenson (13: 7) couldn’t keep up and fell to the River Rats (64: 39) in the regional final.
Huron, who won his first regional title since 2010, will face the winners of River Rouge and Riverview in the Division 1 quarter-finals on Tuesday.
“These kids have been together since seventh grade and have won a lot,” said Huron’s head coach Waleed Samaha, whose team has not lost since February 14, 2020. “To be able to do this together was amazing for her. This feels like a continuation from last season so we’re just trying to keep going.
After a make by senior Julian Lewis, the Huron offensive went to races early in the first quarter and recorded a 16-0 run before the Spartans were able to score again – a layup by Luke Merchant who failed to attempt the subsequent free throw .
At the end of the first quarter, Stevenson was 23: 8 behind Huron and allowed seven rebounds – including two offensive boards – compared to the three Spartans.
The River Rats held Stevenson at bay in the second quarter, comparing each of the Spartans’ 11 points with 12 of their own to maintain a 16-point lead at halftime.
Stevenson’s head coach Eoghann Stephens walked into the locker room and saw an opponent doing everything a basketball player should do: shooting, driving and scoring. After a first half in which he said the team had not given all they had – which resulted in a drastic deficit – the first-year head coach urged them to give the nine seniors a full 16 minutes in the third and fourth quarters to play roster.
“We either want to leave with pride or … we don’t want to be ashamed,” said Stephens. He told the team. “We have to come out, we have to play physically, we have to play strong and at least finish with pride. I don’t care about the score at this point. It’s ‘At least let’s end your career on a positive note, come out and play like you did together for the last 10 years.’ ‘
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Huron continued his offensive run in the third quarter, starting the period with an 11-0 run. The Spartans finished the quarter 9-7 against the Rats, all scored by the Ethan Young senior center, answering every point Huron scored in the fourth quarter.
For a group hanging their hats on the defense, Samaha, who watched Edmonson and Lewis lead the team with 19 and 15 points respectively, said Stevenson ran some offensive sets that got him to work a little .
“They did some very good things tonight and they did well,” said Samaha. “The ball didn’t come for them, but they looked good and did some things that we need to look back at and get better at.”
Young led the Spartans with 13 points, six rebounds and one block. Jacob Mars (11) and Merchant (10) also posted double-digit results for Stevenson.
Although Stephens was having a “strange” season balancing his first season as head coach with the COVID-19 pandemic and the craziness of becoming a new father, the Stevenson seniors raised the expectation and did their first regional final since 2007.
“We want to change this program. We want to get there where we’re likely to win districts, ”said Stephens. “It used to be a kind of crapshoot. We should do that. We should get to that level and see what we can do when we get there. ”
The head coach said the nine seniors led the Spartans to the regional final and made sure that COVID-19 protocols were followed and each player was responsible for ensuring that their season did not end.
Stephens watched as the precedent was set for the remainder of his coaching career for the Stevenson basketball program.
“I did not do anything special. I’m just standing here, ”said Stephens. “You make me look good.”