Rockford Rams 42, Saginaw Trojans 54
Rockford goes cold in the
fourth quarter, falls to Saginaw 54-42 in the Class A state
EAST LANSING - Rockford’s storybook state tournament run was filled with big comebacks, upsets and dramatic victories during the past three weeks.
All it lacked was a storybook ending.
Saginaw defeated the Rams 54-42 in Saturday afternoon’s Class A state championship game at the Breslin Center, closing out Rockford with a 17-2 run over the game’s final five minutes.
Scott Nikodemski’s 3-pointer with 5:50 left in regulation put the Rams up 40-37, but the Trojans dominated the rest of the game. Saginaw, leading 43-42 with 2:37 remaining, ended the game on an 11-0 run.
“It has been a great season,” Rockford junior guard Chad Carlson said. “No one expected us to go all the way to the state championship game. But we got here, we played together as a team, it was a great season for us.
“We just couldn’t get it done.”
The Trojans’ fourth-quarter spurt was hardly the game’s only run.
Saginaw, 26-2 and ranked No. 1 in the state, opened the game with a 7-0 run, but after a Rockford timeout, the Rams answered with 18 consecutive points, holding the Trojans scoreless over the ensuing eight minutes. But the Trojans stormed back with a 12-0 spurt, and by halftime, Saginaw held a 25-24 advantage.
However, the game remained tight despite the runs. The lead changed hands eight times, and it was tied on four other occasions. But Rockford was only 3-of-12 from the floor in the final quarter.
“The game was a tough one, and credit Saginaw for how well they played,” said Rockford first-year coach Nick Allen, whose team finished 22-6. “We got down a little bit (in the fourth quarter), we missed some shots and we had to foul.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and you try to control the runs and eliminate them, but Saginaw is a very good team. We obviously didn’t do the best job of that.”
It was a strange game considering the Rams did not attempt a free throw the entire contest, while the Trojans were 11-of-17 from the line. Rockford committed 15 turnovers after making only seven in Friday’s state semifinal win over Romulus.
But the Rams hung tough thanks to their long-range shooting. Rockford made 10-of-23 3-point attempts. In fact, all but six of their baskets in the game were via 3-pointers.
Saginaw, though, shut the Rams down late. It is Saginaw’s third state championship in the past six years and first since 2008, and in all, the Trojans have now won six titles.
“We were trying to play a little zone trap, and they were picking through it and finding the open man,” Saginaw coach Julian Taylor said. “So I just decided to go full-court man and lock up Chad and locate their shooters. My team stepped up and did a great job, and they rebounded, kept attacking and got to the free throw line.”
Rockford was playing in its first state title game since winning the 2003 championship. Chase Fairfield was Rockford’s only player to finish in double figures. The junior came off the bench and scored a game-high 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Nikodemski added nine points and Carlson eight.
“Saginaw forced us into some bad turnovers,” Carlson said. “We made some bad passes.”
Travontis Richardson led Saginaw with 13 points, while Julian Henderson added 12.
SCORES from Saturday, March 24