GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mark Keeler had led Tri-Unity Christian to the state championship game eight times before, so experience was on his side.
But the opponent on Saturday morning, Detroit Frederick Douglas, offered a special challenge- Mr. Basketball Finalist Pierre Brooks II.
"He's definitely one of the best players I've seen," said Keeler, who has served as the Defenders head coach for 34 years.
Douglas beat Tri-Unity Christian 47-41 in the division four state finals to win their first ever state championship.
Brooks, a Michigan State basketball commit, showed off his all-around game for the Hurricanes--11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, all to go along with his team high 15 points. The future Spartan was able to end his prep career on the same floor where he’ll play his collegiate games.
"I'm still trying to process this feeling of winning a state championship," said Brooks. "It was a great experience to play on my home floor, and I'm pretty sure (Michigan State coaches) were watching on TV. It was a great feeling all around, to be with my teammates in my last game and also playing on my next home floor."
The Defenders were hampered by the Hurricanes zone defense, which contributed to Tri-Unity's cold shooting. Owen Rosendall made both of his three-point attempts, but the rest of the team combined to shoot 3-of-23 from behind the arc.
"The main thing we were trying to do is just get to the middle then pass it outside," said junior guard Brady Titus. "But it was a struggle because we couldn't get it into the middle, so we had to go to the outside then to the inside which didn't really work out that well. It was pretty tough."
Titus led all scorers with 21 points and added six assists and five steals.
The Defenders finish the season with a record of 14 and 3.