Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI. – The Kent City Eagles were looking for redemption after falling by 1 point to Grass Lake in last year’s state championship game and brought their 26-0 record into the Breslin Center Saturday afternoon against the top-ranked Arbor Prep Gators from Ypsilanti. But try as they might they came up just short 54-50.
In the first quarter, both teams played fast uptempo ball and strong defense as the Gators led 13-11 after 1 before a predominantly Kent City crowd. It was more of the same in the second as the Gators were able to force many turnovers and take advantage of them. The Eagles fought back and drew within two but freshman Eliza Bush drained a big 3 to give the Gators the boost they needed at that point The Gators took an 8 point lead into the locker room led by Texas A & M commit and senior Mya Petticord’s 18 points while the Eagles were led by Madelyn Gears with 15 points while Eagles star Lexie Bowers was held to only 5 points.
After the half, the Eagles were down by 9 but kept battling back. Every time the Gators took a double-digit lead, The Eagles would come up big. In the fourth quarter, the Eagles drew within four as they were able to take advantage of some Gators mistakes and turnovers and held the Gators scoreless for over 3 minutes. But the Gators kept fighting hard and got into the bonus and were able to keep the lead by hitting their free throws. With time running out the Eagles would have to accept the runner-up position for the second year in a row.
The Gators finish as state champs with a 25-2 record, their only 2 losses to Division 2 schools including Detroit Edison who won the Division 2 championship game. Kent City finishes their outstanding season 26-1.
“I’m so proud of our girls, especially our three seniors,” Arbor Prep Head Coach Scott Stine said after his team’s victory. “It wasn’t a pretty victory but we made the plays we needed to win a state championship and nobody can take that away from us.”
The Gators were led by Petticord who finished with 27 points and went 3 for 4 from the three-point line. Senior Kari Woods finished with 9 points and 4 steals, Stephanie Utomi finished with 6 points, 3 steals, and 4 rebounds while her twin sister Stacy finished with 5 points, 2 steals, and 6 rebounds.
The Eagles were led by Madelyn Geers with 27 points and 7 rebounds while Bowers was held to only 9 points and 9 rebounds.
This is Arbor Prep’s second championship in 4 attempts, their last championship was won in 2016. Both teams should be back contending once again for a championship next season.