MUSTANG MADNESS! Northville edges CC (with videos)
The final moments of Wednesday’s Detroit Catholic Central-at-Northville Class A District basketball semifinal took March Madness to another level.
March Insanity, maybe?
There were thrills, chills, blood, sweat, cheers — and, ultimately, an intensity-drenched 61-59 overtime victory for the host Mustangs, who were affectionately gang-tackled by their adoring student section once the overtime clock hit zeros.
Northville’s sixth win in its last seven games propelled it into Friday’s 7 p.m. District final against Canton, which won a 76-30 no-doubter against Salem.
Carlos was clutch
The Mustangs’ top producer (of many) was junior Carlos Adamson, whose layup put his team up 60-59 in overtime after he secured the ball near mid-court following a steal by Angelo Rodriguez.
Following a defensive stand in the final seconds, the Mustangs added a Cullen Foley free throw with 5.9 seconds left to make it 61-59.
Catholic Central’s Sam Howard launched a potential game-winning 21-foot shot at the buzzer, but it missed the mark, igniting a jubilant storming of the court by the Mustangs’ fans.
Adamson, who finished with a game-high 27 points, nearly won the game in the final seconds of regulation when — with his team trailing 53-52 — he converted an and-one layup (and the ensuing free throw) to give the Mustangs a 55-53 advantage.
However, CC junior Uchenna Amene — who was spectacular the entire night — swished two free throws with 16.2 ticks remaining to deadlock the game at 55-55.
Amene finished with a team-high 25 points.
“This is amazing because I don’t think we’ve beaten CC in anything,” Adamson said, moments after the classic. “I was nervous all day, but once we started warming up I felt calm.
“These are the kind of games you remember for the rest of your life — the whole city showed up, lots of noise, beating a rival … just an amazing feeling.”
The Shamrocks knocked off Northville, 65-52, on Dec. 16.
“I don’t think there were a lot of people outside of our locker room who gave us much of a chance tonight,” said Northville Head Coach Todd Sander. “Catholic Central is a very good team. They have a lot of good players and they play well together. They beat us up in December and our guys didn’t forget that.
“But we’re a different team than we were three months ago. I’m so proud of how our guys fought tonight. They believed all week. We’d get a little momentum going and then they’d answer and vice versa. Our guys never panicked; they just kept playing and that is a sign of growth.”
Shamrocks shake free … temporarily
The game was close for the first 12 minutes before CC entered the half with a 31-21 advantage.
The Shamrocks’ lead was as large as 12 in the third quarter before the Mustangs chipped away and seized their first lead, 45-44, with 6:40 left in regulation on a fast-break layup by junior Justin Huang (12 points).
CC regained a 53-49 lead on back-to-back spinning layups by Amene with less than a minute to play in the fourth, but Huang answered with a huge triple with 35.5 left to bring the hosts to within 53-52.
Following a missed CC shot and Northville rebound, Adamson converted an and-one layup and the ensuing free throw to give the Mustangs a 55-53 lead with 24.1 seconds left, but Amene drained a pair of free throws with 16 seconds to go to send the game to OT.
The Mustangs executed several hustle plays down the stretch. Rodriguez and Nick Helner both drew charging fouls to help the winners build a 58-55 lead.
However, Amene swished a three-point shot while getting fouled with 63 seconds to play. His free throw capped a four-point play and put the Shamrocks ahead, 59-58.
Stage set for drama
That set the stage for Adamson and Rogriguez’s late-game heroics that vaulted the Mustangs into Friday’s District title game.
Foley was solid at both ends of the court, playing sticky defense, grabbing four rebounds and scoring 10 points.
Senior guard Nolan Thomson scored just three points, but he was the primary defender on Amene most of the night and made him work before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
TJ Nadeau, whose face was bloodied by a cut late in the contest, scored 11 for the Shamrocks and Derrick Lee, Jr. added eight points. Josh Ross led CC with eight rebounds.
Adamson and Sander gave huge props to the school’s student cheering section.
“I honestly don’t think we would have won without them,” Adamson said.
“It’s a special group,” Sander agreed. “Especially this senior class. They’ve been through a lot with COVID and everything, but they’ve shown up in force the past two seasons. They even followed us when we played at Hartland and Belleville. They definitely energize our players.”