UPDATE: Boys basketball: Haske leads St. Francis to state-title game
Traverse City St. Francis coach Keith Haske shouts instructions to his team Tuesday during a Class C state quarterfinal victory over Negaunee Tuesday at Petoskey High School. Haske, who coached for 13 years at Charlevoix, has led the Gladiators to the Class C state championship game in his second season at St. Francis. (Andy Sneddon/News-Review / March 22, 2012)
Haske, who coached boys and girls basketball for 13 years at Charlevoix High School, led Traverse City St. Francis to a 63-54 victory over Shelby Thursday in a Class C boys basketball state semifinal game at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
Devin Sheehy scored 18 points and dished our seven assists to lead four Gladiators in double figures. St. Francis, 25-2, will play Flint Beecher, 27-0, at noon, Saturday, March 24, in the state title game. The game will be carried live on Fox Sports Detroit.
It is the fourth time Haske has led a team to the state championship game. He guided the Charlevoix boys to Class C state runner-up finishes in 2001 and 2004, and his 2004 Rayder girls team also finished runner-up. He led the Rayder boys’ program for 13 seasons, and the girls for three.
Haske left Charlevoix for St. Francis after the 2009-10 season. Last season, his first at St. Francis, ended with a disappointing upset loss to Elk Rapids in a district final.
“Last year, we got (knocked) out of tournament pretty early,” said St. Francis senior Sean Sheldon, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. “It was a big disappointment for us. We looked ahead a little bit, kinda at what we could do. … Now we’re in the finals, and now 32 minutes from holding up the first ever state title for our school.”
The Gladiators had twice been as far as the state semifinals, the last in 2006 when they lost by 29 points to Saginaw Buena Vista.
St. Francis has won six football state championships in the last 21 years.
“One of the reasons I was excited about going (to St. Francis) was because of football,” Haske said. “The kids have the mentality they can be state champions. When I walked in the first day of practice, I had a group of kids who said that because of football, we can be state champs here.
“That’s a huge factor, and I don’t think people realize that. Because not only do that believe that, but they put the work into it.”
St. Francis, which won the Lake Michigan Conference championship, beat all three of its district opponents by at least 31 points, and defeated a good Boyne City team, 52-47, in a regional semifinal.
The five-point margin of victory against Boyne was the only time an opponent has come within less than 11 points of the Gladiators throughout the tournament.
St. Francis built an 11-point lead early in the second quarter Thursday against Shelby, but could never put the Tigers away.
Shelby took its only lead, 45-43, with under a minute to play in the third quarter, and St. Francis led by 1, 47-46, with just over five minutes to play. St. Francis outscored the Tigers, 16-8, down the stretch.
Sheldon scored six of his points over the final six minutes. Michael Jenkins had 14 points and Byron Bullough finished with 11 for the Gladiators.
David Beckman scored 17 points for Shelby, 24-3, which was making its first state semifinal appearance since 1972.
Beecher cruised past defending state champion Schoolcraft, 65-45, in Thursday’s first Class C semifinal.
Antuan Burks scored 24 points and Monte Morris added 18 for Beecher, a state semifinalist last year. Schoolcraft finished 22-5.