With the clock at all zeros, the celebration into the night could officially begin for first-year Coach Tyler Whittemore and his team as Godwin Heights topped Detroit Henry Ford 85-68 in the Class B State Championship.
For those in attendance, the celebration started a little earlier with the Wolverines already leading by 21-points heading into halftime. The way Godwin was shooting the ball, and with their ability to lock-down any team defensively, 21 points may as well have been 50. Detroit Henry Ford didn’t stand a chance.
That lock-down defense? It lead to 17 Detroit Henry Ford turnovers and a 16-2 advantage in points off of turnovers.
The Wolverines were locked in and it didn’t matter who the opponent was. With all the adversity the team had faced in the off-season, they weren’t leaving the Breslin Center without the team’s first ever State Championship title.
Before the season started, long-time coach Chad Conklin stepped down from his position to deal with a family crisis. Coach Conklin had been the cornerstone to building Godwin Heights into a power program. He led the Wolverines to the Semi-Finals in 2013 and the Quarterfinals last season.
Then, on August 4th, former Godwin basketball player Ta’Carhi Richardson was shot and killed at the age of 17. He had previously played under Coach Whittemore at the JV level.
High School principle, and former coach, Chad Conklin spoke to the students and community at a pep rally on Monday, “On the very first day of school I gave a speech to challenge the student body here at Godwin Heights. To make the most of the opportunities that you have and that have been presented in front of you. Today marks the second time that this school has completed a State Championship this year!”
It all came together in East Lansing. The outside shooting, the relentless defense, the ultimate will to win. Five Godwin players finished with double-digits in scoring. Delaney Blaylock finished with 19, Lamar Norton had 17, Michael Williams and Leon Redd each added 13, and Richard Major logged 12.
Everyone stepped up, Lamar Norton, a freshman, finished 7-9 from the field and a perfect 3-3 from downtown.
It was the type of game every coach dreams of. Not winning a State Championship – although that never hurts – but a team playing to their full potential and playing for one another. It culminated on Saturday night for the Wolverines and resulted in a State Championship.