Bizarre weekend: St. Clair advances to JUCO nationals for first time

Posted: March 8, 2010 by Jared Field in College

It was a totally bizarre basketball weekend.

After Henry Ford Community College was deemed to have used an ineligible player for most of the season, the Hawks put together the requisite paperwork and managed to only forfeit a few games. They were out and then they were back in. Instead of being in the opposite bracket of conference and state champion Mott, they had to play the Bears in the semifinals. Henry Ford won in a last-second thriller, 62-61 to advance to the finals on Saturday. Mott’s starting five scored a whopping 17 total points on 6-for-28 shooting. The bench scored 44.

Oakland, a team that had been playing great basketball since its midseason slump, was the favorite to beat St. Clair in the other semifinal match. The Raiders, however, lost their best player, Kevin Grayer, in the first half to a sprained ankle and lost despite a valiant second-half comeback.

So, no one believed St. Clair could beat Henry Ford in the finals, right? Well, no one but St. Clair. The Skippers trailed at halftime and stormed back to win the school’s first regional championship, 83-78, behind 26 points from former Flint Carman-Ainsworth standout Kieon Arkwright. St. Clair is a team full of unheralded players who just get went out and got the job done. They have three players from the same high school team: Arwright, Terrance Keaton and Alan Sharp, all of Flint Carman-Ainsworth.

I’m always amazed at how matchups favor one team over another. For instance, St. Clair’s coach, Dale Vos, rather shockingly, told the local newspaper that his team wanted to  play Henry Ford and not Mott. Why? Matchups. He knew his team could beat Henry Ford — they had done it once in two meetings this season and hadn’t had any luck beating Mott.

From the News Herald:

“I know you’re not suppose to say who you would rather play, but no doubt in my mind we wanted to play Henry Ford,” Vos said. “We just match up better with them. We can handle Henry Ford’s big guys inside, but Mott’s bigs cause us problems.

St. Clair, along with Grand Rapids (another upset winner) in the west, advances to play in the NJCAA nationals in Danville, Illinois next week.

  1. JucoJunkie says:

    The best team doesn’t always win, but the team that plays the best at the right time usually does. All of the stars aligned properly for SC4 to pull off the upset as the writer stated. As a big fan of the Skippers, I’m very happy for the team and the school. Hopefully they will continue their inspired play in the national tournament at Danville.

  2. lover of the game says:

    SC4 players left it all on the line against the hawks espically from ig play from their sophmores….i guess thhis team is bettter than ppl gave credit for.

    • Jared Field says:

      I think that’s fair to say. I was surprised when SC4 beat Henry Ford the first time. I don’t know why I was surprised again. It’s all about matchups.

      • Hoop Dreams says:


        Why are you suprised? sc4 had hfcc beat at home but blew a four point lead with a minute left. They then went to hfcc and beat them when they were 20-0. Also, a place where mott lost by 30

      • Jared Field says:

        I was surpised because I’ve seen both teams and Henry Ford just looked and played better. And SC4 struggled to beat Oakland without Grayer.

      • Hoop Dreams says:


        I was at the tournament all weekend. Sc4 blew that game open and had a 15 pt lead at halftime. It seemed like they came out flat and on cruise control. Did they have to fight off a comeback yes, but they didnt struggle. That game was over 10 minutes into it.

      • Jared Field says:

        They were up by 13 at the half and were outscored by eight points by a Grayer-less OCC team in the second half.

      • Hoop Dreams says:

        Well Sc4 was up by about 16 for 10 minutes or so. I know we dont like to think about this, but could a mental let down have happened when they realized grayer was not coming back?

      • Jared Field says:

        I’m sure it probably did. I mean, no one thought OCC had a chance after he went down.

  3. JucoJunkie says:

    To me, the keys to the game were that HFCC had to go to the limit the night before to beat Mott and that SC4 was able to get their big men in foul trouble. If Wallace had played more minutes, SC4 would have had lots of trouble containing him. If the two teams played a best of seven game series, the Hawks would probably win 4-1 or 4-2. But in a one game series, we’ve seen it before where anything can happen.

    • Hoop Dreams says:

      Junco Junkie,

      Sc4 was taken to the limit the night before also. They fought off a fierce comeback from occ. So dont use that excuse!

      Wallace and hfcc’s big men never scored more than eight points in any of the 3 games all year. So please dont use “if wallace had played more minutes!”. Also, if they played the best of 7 the hawks would prob win 4-1 or 4-2. Ill state this again. Sc4 blew a 4 point lead at home with a minutes left. They then went to hfcc when they were 20-0 and beat them. They now just knocked them out of the championship game. Sc4 is 2-1 vs hfcc and should have been 3-0. They are both equally matched and i think if they played 10 games it would split 5 and 5.

  4. JucoJunkie says:

    Easy, Hoop Dreams. I’m as big a fan of SC4 as anyone. In fact, my oldest son played there. Yes, they deserve all the credit in the world. But either they overachieved (if that’s ever possible) or HFCC and Mott underachieved, because both of them have more talent than SC4. I watched SC4 at home last Tuesday struggle to beat Kirtland, so I wasn’t envisioning what took place at Mott. But again, that’s why they play the games on the court one at a time and anything can happen.

  5. MRSN says:

    In watching OCC for two years, I came to the conclusion that, in most instances, OCC played better as a unit when Kevin Grayer wasn’t on the floor. They tend to stand and watch Kevin dribble the shot clock away and not run through their half court offense.

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