Wolves set for intense regional battle
March 16, 2011 - Cagers won their 18th consecutive MHSAA District Championship on Friday night.
|Nick Tatu holds up the trophy. Photo by Larry Wright (click for larger version)|
"I am extremely happy for our kids, for Clarkston and for our program," said Dan Fife, head coach for the Boys Varsity Basketball team. "It feels good to win another district championship. They are always special."
When Fife played for Clarkston he recalled winning the district crown once. When he began his head coach career for the team in 1982, it was his goal to lead the boys to a district title and the team did it in his first season.
Each one is just as special and important as the previous.
"When I was in high school I knew how difficult it was," he said. "Eighteen is a pretty big number. It gets humbling and overwhelming."
To take the title, they beat Grand Blanc, 64-45.
"It was a different kind of game but our kids withstood it," said Fife about Friday's game. "Our kids handled it extremely well mentally which you are always worried about."
The boys took the lead from the moment they touched the ball and scored on the Bobcats 16-7 in the first quarter and headed into halftime with a 28-14 lead.
Nick Tatu led the boys with 18 points. Mitch Baenziger and Matt Dellinger added 14 points each.
En route for the title, the Wolves also beat Fenton, 68-42, in the district semifinals on March 9, continuing their winning streak from January.
The boys' season had a slow 2-4 start, but they continued to grow and stand up to the challenge brought by opponents.
"Most of the players grew up in Clarkston, watching us play and seeing us play in the league," Fife said. "They know the quality of the teams we play. They know there is a standard and an expectation, not only from me but the school district and the community. The kids find a way and embrace it."
The Wolves beat Flint Northwestern on Monday, 54-40. It was another quick night when the boys took the lead 13-4 in the first quarter. They raked in 18 more points before both teams went to the locker rooms for half time and kept the Wildcats to 12 points
"Everything has to fall into place," Fife said, about what Clarkston and competing teams have to do to keep the season alive, going into the next round of playoffs.
"If you have a bad night you are done," he continued. "Everything becomes more crucial and important. You can't go in there with coulda, woulda, shoulda because there are no tomorrows. It starts that way with districts but each level, it gets more intense because of the pressure the kids feel and the excitement of it all."
The MHSAA Regional final is Wednesday at Bay City Western against the host team, 7 p.m.
The winner moves on to Quarterfinals next Tuesday at Davison, 7 p.m.
"You have to play hard and you have to play smart," said Fife.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.