Division 1 final: Renaissance's comeback bid falls short to Hudsonville
East Lansing — Detroit Renaissance coach Shane Lawal had to feel good about his team’s chances to pull out the victory with just over three minutes left in Friday's Division 1 state championship game against Hudsonville at the Breslin Center.
Renaissance had just cut the deficit to 54-52 with a 12-0 run that was made possible by forcing eight turnovers with its full-court pressure.
But Renaissance couldn’t complete the comeback and Hudsonville hoisted the championship trophy with junior point guard Alaina Diaz knocking down eight free throws down the stretch in a 65-61 win.
Renaissance standout senior point guard Kailee Davis, who scored 19 fourth-quarter points in a 75-72 comeback semifinal win over Wayne Memorial on Wednesday, didn’t have that fourth-quarter magic this time around.
Davis scored 26 and her 3-pointer with 1:30 left pulled Renaissance within 58-56. But she shot 3-for-11 in the final quarter and missed her final three attempts, including a deep ball that was blocked by Diaz with 19 seconds remaining.
“I always go for the ball, do whatever I can to help my team out,” said Diaz, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists.
“I’m used to pressure because we practice pressure free throws and I’m just thinking I have to do it for my family and my teammates.”
The title bout was a game of runs. Hudsonville used a 20-6 third-quarter run to open up a 54-40 cushion with 6-foot junior guard Jaci Tubergen accounting for 16 of the points, including a personal 11-0 spurt with two 3-pointers, a three-point play and and a 15-footer.
Davis was sidelined with a foot injury during most of Tubergen’s scoring stretch. Davis had just scored on a transition basket off a steal to pull Renaissance even at 34, then moments later suffered the injury after turning the ball over on a drive with 4:54 left. She returned just before Tubergen made her 15-footer.
“To see the shots go in, it’s a great feeling. But Alaina handling the pressure as a point guard and other girls attacking and kicking, they got me pretty open," said Tubergen, who finished with 28 points and made five 3-pointers.
"I’m lucky enough to have teammates that are willing to go drive in and draw the defender so it lets people open on the wings.”
After forcing Wayne into 36 turnovers, Renaissance (13-4) forced Hudsonville into 26 turnovers, including 11 in the fourth quarter to make the game interesting in the final minutes.
“We had them early and let them ease back in and get confidence. Once they were confident, they started hitting big shots,” Lawal said. “Tubergen did a great job of being patient against us and she hit a lot of shots. She has a methodical pace to her so it’s a dope combo of Diaz being super fast and then Tubergen is more laid-back in her game.
“Our press eventually gets to you. We got some turnovers and when we got them to turn it over, there was a couple of times when we had the chance to take the game back and we wouldn’t convert.”
Renaissance also failed to convert at the line, making 18 of 30 free throws while Diaz was putting the finishing touches to the win by making the most of her opportunities.
Hudsonville (22-1) also had a 45-32 rebounding advantage with Tubergen grabbing 12 boards and Eva Joldersma 11.
“The big thing for us was to weather the storm,” Hudsonville coach Casey Glass said. “We knew that they’d apply pressure. We knew that there would be spurts during the game where we might not score, and they might go on some runs.
“Yes, we turned the ball over. But when the time came and it counted, we had big kids step up in big situations.”
Senior guard Mikyah Finley scored 13 and 6-foot-2 senior Shannon Wheeler had nine points and eight rebounds for Renaissance.
"I'm proud of my kids, proud of how we fought adversity this year," said Lawal, whose team was The News' preseason No. 1 before losing three of its first six games. "They are winners to me."