March 23, 2011

Kearney will face Costello in Class A semifinal

DETROIT - Michigan State signee Brandan Kearney says he has been dreaming of playing in a state title game since he was a child. But he probably never thought he would have to get past a future college teammate in order to reach his goal.

But that's what he will have to do at 2:50 p.m. on Friday at Breslin Center when his Detroit Southeastern (20-3) team meets junior MSU commitment Matt Costello and Bay City Western (24-2) in the MHSAA Class A semifinals.

"I played against Matt on the (summer) circuit," Kearney said after Tuesday's 73-51 victory over Romulus in the Class A quarterfinals at Calihan Hall. "I don't know what to expect because I haven't seen Bay City Western. I'll look at the film and then we can evaluate."

Costello, an active, aggressive, 6-foot-9 post player, had 31 points and 11 rebounds in a 60-49 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary's (15-10) on Tuesday. Costello, who had a triple-double in the regional finals against Clarkston, is averaging 22.1 points and 12.3 rebounds in the state tournament.

"There should be a lot of the Spartans up there to see that game," Kearney said. "I just want to win. That would be the greatest achievement of my high school career. I've been going to the state game since I was a little fellow, real little. I just want to win the last game I play."

The Detroit Southeastern vs. Bay City Western game will pit the best team from the Detroit Public School League against the best of the Saginaw Valley League, historically the two top basketball conferences in the state.

"I know they have a great player in Costello," said Southeastern coach George T. Ward. "I know they beat a wonderful, excellent team in Saginaw. I'm sure they are pretty disciplined in everything that they do. We are looking forward to the challenge.

"The one thing that we wanted to do was give ourselves a chance to win the state championship. We have a chance to play Friday afternoon and hopefully we can make something good happen."

Inside Kearney's Game

Kearney, a senior wing forward who also plays some point, had a quiet statistical night against Romulus, but was happy to take a victory in any fashion.

"As far as the offense goes, I didn't score a lot, but I had a few assists, a few rebounds," Kearney said. "I played decent defense. I'm just happy to have the win. Statistics don't matter right now. It's all the team game for me."

Kearney finished with 8 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds. He was 4-of-4 from the foul line and 2-of-8 from the field. He had four turnovers, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot.

"There was a lot on him tonight. This school has not been to the final four in basketball in almost 80 years so we knew emotionally he was going to be revved up and charged up and ready to go. A lot of times, 17-year-old kids, they don't know how to handle those emotions right away. So in the second half, he settled down. I got on him a little bit, but it wasn't like he wasn't playing hard, he just wasn't doing all of the little things that we know he can do.

"Initially there was a little bit of stress on him. He missed some shots that he would ordinarily hit. But the kid kept plugging away. He rebounded the ball, led the break, made some great passes.

"Brandon showed how focused he was and how much of a basketball player he was in that second half. We got the basketball to him in the middle of those zones a couple of times and you could see the passes that he can make and the decisions that he makes. He makes great decision in the middle of the floor with the basketball in his hands."

  • The 6-foot-6 Kearney hit a pair of field goals. On one, he backed his man down while posting up, and hit a 4-foot, turn-around jumper off the glass. ... Later he got loose on a run-out for a flying, two-handed dunk.

  • Kearney mostly played high post power forward for Southeastern, although he slid to the wing on a handful of occasions, and brought the ball up as a point guard a few times.

  • Kearney's misses included a pull-up 17-footer in transition, a flash to the foul line for a jab step fake and jumper, and a 17-foot catch-and-shoot off a downscreen.

    Also at the mid-post, he offered "the Steve Smith move," with a fake spin move to the right, followed immediately by a spin back to the left. But he missed the 9-foot fall-away jumper.

  • In the second half, Kearney missed a 17-footer on the press break, and failed to finish a reverse lay-up in the broken court.

    To His Credit

    With his teammates playing well and enjoying a double-digit lead most of the night, Kearney didn't disrupt the flow and tempo of the game by demanding the ball and trying to get his.

    "That's what a team is for, that's what teammates are for, to step up in those type of moments," Kearney said. "I wanted to catch the ball in the post and shoot over them because they were shorter, but I didn't get many chances to do that because my teammates were going to work. That's all that matters."

    A pair of pretty assists from the foul line against Romulus's half-court trap thwarted Romulus's hopes of changing the game's momentum.

    "He is a cerebral basketball player," Ward said of Kearney. "When he has numbers, an advantage, and he is in the middle of the floor, there is no doubt about it we're going to get a lay-up.

    "It's a very cerebral group as a whole. Any time you talk about inner-city kids, one thing that everybody doesn't like to talk about is how disciplined, how structured and how cerebral this group is. We knew at some point Romulus was going to have to come out and trap the basketball. We swung the ball to the side and threw it in there to the best wing in the state and let him make a decision with the basketball, and we got a couple of easy lay-ups out of it and kind of put them away."

    The Supporting Cast Stars

    Percy Gibson, a 6-foot-8 post player who has signed with Dayton, led Detroit Southeastern with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists, according to our books. Others credited him with 10 blocks and a triple-double.

    "I think he had 10 blocks!" Ward said, smiling, selling it, but not knowing for sure.

    "Percy was up for the challenge. With all of that dribble driving Romulus does, we weren't going to suck in and leave their 3-point shooters open. We allowed Percy to play help defense by himself. He is 6-9, is not the most athletic kid in the world, but he used his brain and his bulk. He saw those balls coming and his timing was impeccable."

    Gibson outplayed Justin Moss, a 6-6 post player who has signed with Toledo. Moss was held to single figures in points and rebounds, and traveled three times when trying to go to work against Gibson.

    How They Played Kearney

    Romulus matched up in tight man-to-man against Kearney, with 6-foot defensive stopper James Boler denying Kearney all the way out to half court.

    This gave Kearney's versatile supporting cast a chance to shine.

    "I like it when they try to play Brandan like that," Ward said. "We come down and run plays, set screens all the time, get guys open and if you try to take Brandan away, it leaves the best post player in the state alone and you are going to have to come help. Hopefully someone will leave Brandan alone so that he can have a hell of a game this weekend."

    On Tuesday night, Southeastern shooting guard Edward Brown was left alone. He rang up 21 points, 12 of which came on 3-pointers. Brown, a 6-foot athlete with excellent ability to elevate for his good-looking jumper, also played energetic defense.

    "Our guys make life very hard for you," Ward said.k "I've got some great guards and one thing my guards will do is check your behind for 94 feet. and no one really has a 6-6 wing that can do the things Brandan can do.

    "Everybody has been playing well so it doesn't lead to a lot of individual stuff that sticks way out to you. We have pretty much had four kids in double figures every game.

    "Brandan has had a lot of assists throughout the tournament. He has rebounded the ball well. You can see that he has really buckled down because he realizes that hey not only is this my last chance, but he has a great opportunity."

    As for Brown, one of the state's best-kept secrets is still working to qualify academically.

    "Louisiana Tech is looking at him, Central Michigan has shown some interest, a couple of D-II's," Ward said. "As soon as we get this test taken care of, then we'll make a sound decision. He is a heck of a kid and a heck of a player. He is a great citizen and is a joy to be around."

    Elsewhere

    In Class A quarterfinals:

  • Southfield 59, East Detroit 47 at Calihan Hall. Future Michigan Wolverine Carlton Brundidge scored 10.

  • Kalamazoo Central 48, Hudsonville 44 at Don Johnson Fieldhouse in Lansing. T.J. Buchanan, a commitment to the University of Rhode Island, scored 12 points for Kalamazoo Central (23-3). Buchanan is ranked the No. 3 senior guard in the state by Stephen Bell's BankHoops.com.

    Southfield will play Kalamazoo Central in the other Class A semifinal at 1 p.m. on Friday at Breslin Center.

    In Class B quarterfinals:

  • Lansing Sexton 66, Dearborn Divine Child 42, at Marshall High. Sexton junior Denzel Valentine, an MSU commitment, scored 16 in last week's regional final victory over Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.

  • Detroit Country Day 67, Flint Powers Catholic 64, at Ferndale High. Center Amir Williams (Ohio State signee) led Country Day with 23 points.

  • Dowagiac 68, East Grand Rapids 58 at Middleville High.

  • Muskegon Heights 60, Cadillac 49 at Houghton Lake High.

    On Friday, Lansing Sexton will play Detroit Country Day at 6 p.m.

    Dowagiac and Muskegon Heights will play at 7:50 p.m.





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