By Alex LaGrone, Staff Writer
The Flint community was treated to a post-holiday basketball extravaganza last Thursday at Mott Community College’s Ballenger Field House. The boys and girls teams from Beecher, Carmen-Ainsworth, Goodrich, and Powers Catholic high schools battled in the first annual Steve Schmidt 2018 Ro
undball Classic. Goodrich athletic director, Dave Davis, dreamed of having a high school basketball tournament consisting of Flint-area teams. In the past, local teams had to travel out of town to participate in these types of tournaments. The event is named after the longtime MCC basketball coach who helped organize the tournament with Davis.
It was a unifying event as the evening games were packed with fans who witnessed some good ‘ole fashioned Flint basketball at its finest. The first game of the evening session had the 5-2 Carmen Ainsworth Cavaliers girls face the 4-2 Goodrich Martians.
The game featured two All-State players in the Cavs’ Destiny Strother and Martian Maddie Voelker. Volker was also voted as Flint Journal Player of the Year. The Martians got off to a good start taking an early 11-2 lead to end the first quarter.
The Cavs struggled offensively trying to keep pace with the determined Martians who do not have a senior on its squad. Despite its slow start, the Cavs kept their composure and did not panic. Carmen-Ainsworth made a late run during the second quarter thanks to quick baskets by Arie Lewis and Aaliyah McQueen.
Jessiana Aaron made a steal and scored on a layup at the buzzer to close the gap to15-13 to end the first half. The second half belonged to the Cavs’ J. Aaron as she added the spark her team needed offensively and defensively.
The Martians, who played out of this world in the first quarter, were slowed down when the Cavs stepped up its defense. Frustrated Cavs head coach, Jason Gray, watched his team commit several turnovers in the second half.
The Cavs went on to defeat the Martians 48-39. The game had a historical moment when Martians Voelker reached 1,000 points in her career as she hit a free throw with 4:18 left in the third quarter. “It’s huge,” Voelker said. “I was looking forward to it but I would have liked to win.”
The Bucs’ Menifield Delivers Standout Performance
The court was full of talent on both the Carmen-Ainsworth (6-1) and Beecher Buccaneers (7-0) squads. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Iowa State coach Steve Prohm were in attendance to watch Bucs juniors Jalen Terry and Earnest Sanders play.
The Cavaliers Michael Fletcher, who recently signed with the MSU Spartans as a defensive end, is also a pretty good basketball player. This was a much-anticipated matchup. Both teams are ranked #1 and #3 in the Flint area.
Both teams traded baskets, but it was the Cavs who got the best of the Bucs with a commanding 22-10 first quarter lead. Dustin Fletcher had a big first quarter, leading the Cavs with 10 points.
Beecher’s sophomore guard, Keyon Menifield, caught fire and began his own onslaught against the Cavs. Menifield drained a couple of threes and hit a couple of floaters in the lane to ignite the standing-room only crowd. He even brought Izzo to his feet smiling as the Bucs, after trailing all game, took the lead 37-35 in the third quarter. Sanders was a human highlight reel, slashing to the basket with crowd-pleasing dunks.
Terry, the No. 1 ranked player in Michigan’s class of 2020 according to one website, didn’t have one of his best scoring games. He played good defense however while handing out seven assists. With Sanders leading all scorers with 22, and Menifield finishing with 18, the Bucs were able to hold off the Cavs in the high-intensity game by winning 57-50.
In the afternoon session, Powers girls defeated Beecher’s girls squad 55-45 and Goodrich boys held on to beat Powers boys by the score of 61-53.
The tournament was a complete success. “This is something that I’ve always wanted to do, to have high school games at our facility,” said Schmidt, who has coached Mott to four national championships in 27 years. “For years I’ve always wanted to reach out to the high schools,” he said.