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Wolves fight to the finish in season ender



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Max Collins jumps past Flint Northern during the Wolves' playoff run. Photo by Larry Wright (click for larger version)
March 23, 2011 - The Cagers' season came to a heartbreaking end on March 16 against Bay City Western, 45-37, in MHSAA Regional Finals.

"It was a game we had an opportunity to win," said Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach Dan Fife. "The game was back and forth all night. It was close all the time. Bay City would have a 7-8 point lead and we would come back."

The boys took away Bay City's leads at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth.

Bay City got going again and Junior Nick Tatu cut the distance to 38-36 as the boys inched up the board.

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Tatu brought the boys into the lead by a point with 1:40 left to go in the game after he was sent to the free throw line.

"Even with a minute left we still had opportunities," said Fife. "We put ourselves in the spot to win the game. It was just one of those games nothing fell right for us."

As the boys drove forward to get more cushion on the board they were stopped by Bay City's defense. Fouls against Clarkston sent their opponent to the line where they sunk seven of their nine free throw attempts.

"We did everything we could have on the floor to win," said Fife. "I don't think 'woulda, coulda, shoulda.' I am proud of our kids."

Mitch Baenziger and Marcus Hardy led the team adding 12 points each to the board. Tatu added seven points to the game.

The boys ended the season 19-6 with a slow start to the season with two wins and four losses. After Christmas break and a painful loss to Pontiac the boys started their climb back up where they spent most of the season tied in the OAA Red league for first-place honors. They secured the crown with a win over Southfield-Lathrup and took down three teams for their 18th consecutive district title.

"There were a lot of lessons learned this year," said Fife.

He added one of them is how to deal with adversity.

"I think athletics is such a great teacher of adversity because if you get too high with the high it always seems to humble you," Fife said. "It never lets you get too full of yourself. It keeps you grounded."

The Wolves lose five players to graduation this year - Max Collins, Brent Cousino, Matt Rodgers, Marcus Hardy and Stacy Murray.

"Ninety percent of the time the season is determined by the attitude of our seniors," added Fife. "The kids that have been in our program the longest."

What they added to the season was helping their teammates on how to deal with adversity along with the ups and downs not only during the season but throughout games and practices.

"We always talk about leaving a legacy," Fife continued. "Did they win a state championship? No. They didn't win a regional championship, but they left a legacy of what they are all about."

For the returners and athletes looking to fill in the spots for the 2011-2012 season getting ready begins with continuing their commitment.

Returners include Mitch Baenziger, Zach Collins, Nick Dahl, Jordan Dasuqi, Tyler DeCoster, Matt Dellinger, Luke Hershey, Alan Kamieniecki, Travis Smith, Nick Tatu and Mark Tynan.

"For anybody who goes through a 2-4 situation, rights the ship and and gets out of that is situation that is a tremendous thing to go through," said Fife.

"It is a great lesson for them. I think that in itself with help them for next year if they are any kind of athlete."

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.
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