Cavs lose squeaker to No. 4 Saginaw

Denzel Watts led Carman-Ainsworth with 21 points against Saginaw.

Denzel Watts led Carman-Ainsworth with 21 points against Saginaw.

SAGINAW — Carman-Ainsworth came so close to beating Saginaw in last week’s Class A district basketball tournament, it’s hard to resist playing “what if” with the Cavaliers.

Carman lost to the fourth-ranked Trojans, 56-54, in the March 9 district semifinals at Saginaw Arthur Hill, ending its season at 17-5, with a high honorable mention ranking in the final Associated Press state poll.

The Cavs had their chances, leading, 50-48, with 4:30 to go. But Saginaw outscored them, 8-1, over the next four minutes to pull it out. The Trojans, 19-4, went on to beat Flint Northern, 74-64, for the district title last Friday, then lost a shocker to Bay City Western, 55-47, in Monday’s regional semifinal.

But let’s say Carman had won that close game last week, and went on to play Northern in the district final. The Cavs could have avenged a 65-54 loss to the Vikings on Jan. 25, then would have gone against Bay City Western on Monday. A win there would have put them against Clarkston in last night’s regional final, and Carman beat the Wolves during the regular season. The Cavs could easily be looking at a quarterfinal game next Tuesday.

Junior forward Anton Wilson goes up for a layup earlier this season.

Junior forward Anton Wilson goes up for a layup earlier this season.

But that’s the stuff of dreams. The reality is that Carman threw a huge scare into Saginaw before grudgingly bowing out of the tournament.

The Cavs stormed out to a 14-6 first-quarter lead and stretched it to 20-6 one minute into the second, hitting their first four 3-point shots along the way. But Saginaw came off the ropes to outscore Carman, 22-6, the rest of the half and take a 28-26 edge into the locker room.

Carman counterpunched in the third, as Anton Wilson scored 10 of his 16 points, including an alley-oop dunk with 38 seconds left to put the Cavs up, 43-38. Saginaw scored the last five points of the period to send the game into the final eight minutes tied at 43, and the Trojans hit 9-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter to the Cavs’ 2-of-5.

Wilson also had 13 rebounds and six steals to go with his 16 points. Denzel Watts had 21 points on four 3-pointers, and Nick Hill hit two 3s for six points. The Cavs hurt themselves at the line, going 6-for-14 for the game to Saginaw’s 12-of-19.

Tommie McCune led the Trojans with 18 points, 16 of them in the second half. Dominique Jackson had 10 points.

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