Clinton wins district title, ends season with loss in regionals
The Class C regional semifinal varsity boys basketball game hosted by Clinton on Monday, March 10, was a tight affair for two quarters until Whiteford took control of the court in the second half and defeated the Redskins 82-48.
At the end of the first quarter Clinton was down by three points (13-10) but the Redskins tied the game 20-20 midway through the second quarter with Ryan Karapas connecting on one of two from the free throw line. Karapas again tied the game at 22-22 with a layup at the 3:38 mark and gave Clinton a 28-25 lead with 1:31 left in the first half but Whiteford shut down the Redskins’ offense and finished the opening half up 33-28.
“The first half was more of what I was envisioning,” said Clinton coach Mike Ruhl. “We played defense and even though we had some turnovers we were doing enough good things to be right there.”
Two minutes and 10 seconds after entering the third quarter Whiteford increased its lead to 10 points (40-30) with forced turnovers allowing the Bobcats to close the quarter leading 61-42.
“Unfortunately coming out of the half, we kind of lost all the good things we were doing and started turning the ball over and that’s what Whiteford needs to go on those runs they’re capable of.”
Clinton’s gymnasium was near capacity most of the evening with Detroit Consortium picking up a 64-48 victory over Detroit Allen Academy in the first regional semifinal of the night. National prospect sophomore Josh Jackson highlighted the contest with a soaring dunk that put an exclamation point on the win. Consortium beat Whiteford 91-61 in the regional final on Wednesday.
The Redskins won the district title on Friday, March 7, at Grass Lake with a tight 49-45 victory over Manchester.
“We had their number this year,” said Ruhl of beating the Flying Dutchmen. “It was a fun experience for the kids.”
Clinton was up 46-45 with 6.3 seconds remaining in the game when Karapas stole the ball from a Flying Dutchman and laid it in for a three-point lead. Jared Sackett hit one of two from the free throw line to secure the district title for the Redskins with 0.3 seconds remaining.
Clinton defeated Tri-County Conference rival Whitmore Lake 46-45 in the district quarterfinal on Wednesday, March 5, to advance to the district championship.
With 11 seconds left in the quarterfinal, the Redskins grabbed a defensive rebound off a missed free throw and found Reid Clark who made a huge three point shot for the one point victory.
“It was a testament to not quitting, not giving in, not giving up,” Ruhl said of his team’s improvement by the end of the season. “These kids hung in there, kept a really good attitude, we had fun. From day one until the end of the year they became a team and I’m telling you one of my most rewarding years out of the 15 I’ve been doing this.”
Clinton was the defending district champion and Ruhl has already set a goal of retaining the title for another season. He had three seniors on this year’s district championship team including Reid Clark, Ryan Piatt and Sebastian Trout.
“We bring a lot of guys back next year and we’re looking to do better in conference and go for our third district title in a row,” said Ruhl. “And maybe have a better showing in regional next year.”
In the district final, Karapas led the Redskins with 17 points and four steals. Clinton’s Ryon Luzier had 15 points and eight rebounds; Reid Clark, nine points and three assists; Collin Poore, five points and three assists; and Jared Sackett, three points, five assists and three steals.
In the regional quarterfinal, Karapas led the Redskins with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Clark finished the night with 15 points.