Flint Beecher players celebrate as the final buzzers sounds after their 40-39 victory over Laingsburg in the Class C State Championship game in East Lansing.
By Gavin Raath | Great Lakes Hoops
Flint Beecher head coach Mike Williams.
EAST LANSING, Michigan — If someone would have told me that the final of the Class C championship game between Beecher and Laingsburg would be 40-39, I would’ve said congratulations to Laingsburg on an improbable victory. If that same someone told me that Monte Morris would be sick with flu-like symptoms and would miss a portion of the game, then I would wonder why it was so close.
But Saturday evening, Beecher showed why they’re the district of champions, overcoming odds and, according to coach Mike Williams, beating their toughest opponent of the season, 40-39.
“Their coach does a great job teaching his team fundamentals,” said Williams of Laingsburg head coach Greg Mitchell. “Those kids really understand what they’re doing. I warned our guys that they couldn’t just go out and run through. Those kids have nothing to be ashamed of. That’s the best team we played all year, including Pershing.
“These are the games I live for.”
Coach Williams has always thought outside of the box. At clinics and in press conferences, I’ve heard him often say things like, “we use our defense to create offense.” Nuance like that is probably what makes him a repeat state champ and perhaps the best coach in the state, but his nuance met its match with Coach Mitchell.
Mitchell’s guys didn’t struggle for one second with the much-applauded Beecher press. That led to an early deficit and confusion on offense. But as the game wore on Beecher found its groove, involving more guys on offense, and taking more risks on defense even if it led to fouls.
Such a performance was necessary with a sick Mr. Basketball.
Ultimately, Mitchell navigated his team to what every basketball coach dreams of: possession of the ball and just one basket away from a state championship. It wasn’t in the cards for the Wolfpack, but they gave their coach and their town something to remember forever.
For Beecher, back-t0-back state championships will put them in the conversation with some of the best high school basketball programs in the state’s history. It’s not simply about the two straight state titles, however, it’s about the staying power of a great coach who has led his program to the Breslin Center four consecutive seasons. There’s only one team in Michigan that knows its way around the Breslin better than Beecher, and they were playing at the Palace today.