By Blake Froling
For the first time since the 2015 playoffs, Arthur Hill beat archrival Saginaw 68-63 on Saturday, snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Trojans.
Sophomore Christian Smith played the game of his life for Arthur Hill (8-8, 4-2), scoring 25 points and dominating the paint offensively and defensively.
Christian Smith (@Bangmanchris1) was an absolute beast for Arthur Hill today. He spoke with @BFroling after the Lumberjacks' thrilling win over rival Saginaw. pic.twitter.com/i0vmZMrJ7L— ESPN 100.9-FM (@ESPN1009) February 15, 2020
Both teams were dead even in the first half, ending the first quarter tied 15-15 and the second quarter 30-30. Saginaw’s Freddie McIntosh and Leeland Summers combined for three 3-pointers in the first quarter, but the Trojans (9-6, 5-1) went ice cold from deep after that.
Arthur Hill made the first big run of the game in the third quarter thanks to a balanced scoring attack that saw six different players contribute. The Lumberjacks pulled ahead 50-43 at the end of the third.
Saginaw senior Sir’Real Smith wouldn’t let the Trojans go down without a fight. After being down double-digits in the second half, he brought Saginaw all the way back to a tie 60-60 with less than two minutes to play. He scored eight of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Saginaw had multiple chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but several missed free throws and three-pointers doomed their hopes of avoiding the upset.
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?
All season long, Arthur Hill has been one of the youngest teams in the Saginaw Valley League. Lumberjacks head coach Tony Davis said he wants to “go young and teach young” with the hope that he can build a sustainable winning culture at Arthur Hill.
In Saturday’s win over Saginaw, Nehemia Jones was the only senior to score for Arthur Hill, and 49 of the 68 points came from freshmen and sophomores. Coach Jordan has Arthur Hill trending in the right direction.
With the new Michigan Power Rating system, the top two teams in each district are placed on opposite sides of the bracket. The rest of the teams are placed based on alphabetical order.
Saginaw (0.538 MPR) came into Saturday’s game as the No. 2 seed in District 3, behind Carman-Ainsworth (0.651). With the loss, Saginaw slipped behind Swartz Creek (0.545) and Heritage (0.540) in the district. If the playoffs started today, Saginaw would play the winner of Swartz Creek and Arthur Hill (0.509).
Arthur Hill improved its MPR from 0.497 to 0.509, moving up 11 spots in Division 1.
With the loss, Saginaw falls to 5-1 in the Saginaw Valley League North division. That still puts them in sole possession of second place behind Mount Pleasant (15-0, 7-0). If Saginaw beats John Glenn on Tuesday, they’ll still have a chance to advance to the SVL Championship if they beat Mount Pleasant on Friday the 21st. Arthur Hill improves to 4-2 in the SVL North.
Arthur Hill Final Stats
Christian Smith: 25 points
Tim Jordan Jr.: 16 points
Corvell Simmons: 9 points
Carmello Franklin: 8 points
Elvis Machul: 4 points
Sheddrick Murrell: 4 points
Nehemia Jones: 2 points
Saginaw Final Stats
Sir’Real Smith: 26 points
Freddie McIntosh: 10 points
Armond Goods: 8 points
Leeleand Summers: 6 points
Dawuavion Burton: 5 points
Jaquavis Davis: 5 points