Division 3 state semis: Defense powers Flint Beecher; Foster Wonders lifts Iron Mountain

David Goricki, The Detroit News
·4 min read

Apr. 8—EAST LANSING — Mike Williams has won a lot of state championships as head coach at Flint Beecher.

Now, Williams is all about saving lives, making sure his players are ready to take the next step in life.

Not that Williams didn't do it before, it's just the fact that his father, Charles C. Williams, who is his hero, passed away from COVID-19 last April.

"My father passed April 13th and one of the things my father did was he made sure the last things that he told me was to take care of my boys," Williams said.

"The last day that I saw my father was the day that they canceled school, March 13. The last image I have of him was standing up strong, walking out and being the rock of our family. He walked himself into the hospital and we never got to see him again. He passed on April 13. It was that day I lost the most important person in my life.

"And, for me taking care of my boys (players), what that means is showing them how to be strong in the face of adversity, and how to teach them how to live and that I'm raising them to live without me, not with me, and that's one thing that my dad always taught me, so I want to be that rock and that strength for my family, for the community and for all people who have lost somebody in this tragic time."

Williams guided Beecher to five Class C state championships last decade — consecutive titles from 2012-13, and then three straight from 2015-17.

Now, Beecher — 15-1 and ranked No. 8 in The News Super 20 — is in position to win its first state title since '17 following a 47-34 win over Hanover-Horton Thursday morning at the Breslin Center.

Beecher was tested by Hanover-Horton's matchup zone, but won with defense, limiting Hanover-Horton to 28.9% shooting, including 2-of-19 3-pointers.

"When you get to this stage it's about winning and surviving, and winning on the defensive end and getting stops," Williams said. "Championship basketball is played in the halfcourt, and you know we like to pressure people and get out and tonight we just showed we can play in the 80s, we can play in the 30s or 40s, so I'm proud of this win."

Senior guard Keyon Menifield scored 15 for Beecher, making 6-of-13 shots.

Conner Mortimer scored 13 and Brogan Brockie had 12 points for Hanover-Horton (20-2).

It was obvious Foster Wonders wanted to extend Iron Mountain's trip after making the long journey from the Upper Peninsula to compete in the state finals.

Wonders, a Mr. Basketball finalist headed for Southern Illinois, rallied Iron Mountain (19-0) back from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Schoolcraft 54-50 in overtime to punch its ticket to Saturday's 3 p.m. final against Beecher.

Things were looking badly for Iron Mountain as it entered the fourth quarter, trailing 30-24 while shooting just 28.6% from the floor and making just 4-of-18 3-pointers.

But, Iron Mountain had the 6-5 Wonders on its side, a player who had scored more than 2,000 career points while averaging 34 points his senior season.

Wonders got the job done, scoring 34 with 18 coming during the fourth quarter and overtime.

Wonders scored 13 during an 18-6 run to turn a 32-24 deficit into a 42-38 cushion with 1:14 left in regulation. He started the run with a three-point play (basket and free throw) and ended it with consecutive 3-pointers, the second on a 30-footer.

"Obviously trying to pick my spots, going up against a lot of defensive pressure, I'm used to that by now and Schoolcraft is really good on defense and they're big so I definitely had to adjust to that a little bit," Wonders said. "But I think as the game went on I got a little more used to that and how they were playing defense in that zone.

"We just found some openings and got into a little different offense because we were a little stagnant for a while there, so getting into that was pretty huge for us and we converted the shots. We had open shots the whole game and they started falling in the fourth quarter. "

Schoolcraft (19-2) forced overtime by scoring the final four points of the fourth, swatting the ball away from Wonders on a shot in the final seconds.

Iron Mountain — which lost the state title game in controversial fashion two years ago — took a seven-point lead (49-42) in overtime, but Schoolcraft wouldn't go away, using a 5-1 run to cut the deficit to 50-47 on Shane Rykse's 3-pointer. Schoolcraft got the ball back on a steal, but also turned it over and Wonders made three free throws down the stretch.