Genesee Christian soldiers aim for first place in state basketball semifinals

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FLINT — At this point in the basketball season, Genesee Christian players no longer need the incentive to play their best game of the year.

Not with a place in the last four in play Tuesday against Southfield Christian at West Bloomfield High School.

But soldiers nonetheless got extra motivation Saturday by watching some of the televised women’s championship games at the Breslin Center on Michigan State’s campus.

“It would be amazing to be a part of that,” said junior Trenton Boike, Genesee Christian’s top player who made the Division 4 All-State first team last season.

A victory over Plymouth would give the Soldiers a place in the semifinals on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Breslin Center against the winner of the quarterfinal between Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian (18-6) and Adrian Lenawee Christian (13-12).

Genesee Christian (20-4) never reached the semifinals.

“We always talked about it,” junior guard Tyler Chapman said. “It was always a dream. We just kept getting better. We kept working hard and now it’s a reality. It would be great. Playing at Michigan State would be so cool.

The GCS boys are in the quarter-finals for the fourth time since the school joined the MHSAA.

The last appearance was in 2019, when the opponent was none other than Southfield Christian. Genesee Christian lost that game 74-44, but Southfield Christian had a powerful line-up for a Division 4 school, winning its second straight state title and fifth in eight years.

But the Eagles aren’t as strong this time around.

Sure, they’re 20-4 – as is Genesee Christian – but two of their losses have been to Plymouth Christian (67-64) and Clarkston Everest Collegiate (55-53).

Genesee Christian has beaten both of these teams before, knocking out Clarkston 55-50 on January 29 and beating Plymouth 66-62 on February 25.

The Soldiers also recorded quality wins over strong Flint-area teams such as Division 2 Hamady and D3 Lake Fenton and Bendle Schools. Both Hamady and Bendle have won district championships.

Coach Dan Chapman measured his words carefully when asked if reaching the quarter-finals was something the Soldiers collectively aimed for heading into the season.

Genesee Christian junior Tyler Chapman is the Soldiers’ second leading scorer this season. (Jenifer Veloso | MLive.com)Jenifer Veloso

“I would probably be cocky to say yes, but we went through our schedule and thought we probably had a 10-13 win team,” he said. “If we could put it all together, maybe we could go to that regional final and play (Marine City Cardinal) Mooney or Everest and see if we can beat them.

“They are certainly excited. This group, probably more than any other I’ve had, loves basketball. Normally in a small school you try to get football players or whatever to come and compete where these guys, they all love basketball.

“They’ve been attending district and regional championship games since they were in third grade, waiting for their opportunity.”

Boike and Chapman are the main offensive threats for Genesee Christian.

The 5-foot-9 Boike is averaging 22.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals. He shoots 55% from the field, including 40% on 3-point attempts. He hit 80% of his free throws.

The Soldiers have played a solid schedule that includes two games against Beecher, ranked No. 1 in Division 3. They lost by 18 points to the Bucs in February, but Boike scored a game-high 33 points. Last season, he scored 34 points in a loss to the eventual state champion Bucs, who play defense like any team in any class.

But containing Boike does not mean that the adversaries have arrested the soldiers.

In the regional final, Cardinal Mooney used a box-and-one defense to hold Boike to 10 points. But Chapman stepped up and hit a half-dozen 3-pointers en route to 31 points in a 69-51 victory.

Chapman (6-0) is averaging 20.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 47% from the field, 38% from 3-pointers and 83% from the free throw line.

The folks at Genesee Christian have been more basketball-crazed than usual this season, with the boys reaching the quarter-finals and the girls winning their first regional championship while setting a school record with 20 wins.

The girls lost in the quarter-finals last week to Plymouth Christian.

“It’s been crazy the last two or three weeks because either we’ve had a practice, a game or we’re going to watch the girls play,” Boike said. “And (girls games are) all away, an hour away, we had crazy nights trying to get to those games, get home and get some sleep.

“The whole school is talking about basketball right now because the girls have never gone this far and we have come this far but we have never reached Breslin. So hopefully we can do that.

The Division 4 state championship game is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Breslin Center.

Genesee Christian is one of three Flint-area teams in the quarterfinals.

Grand Blanc (19-5) takes on Detroit Catholic Central (16-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Saginaw Heritage while Beecher (21-2) takes on New Haven (17-7) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bendle.

Grand Blanc and Beecher are both reigning state champions.

CONTINUED:

Events broadcast live by the NFHS network


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