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Rudyard boys basketball team bows out to Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 61-43 in MHSAA Division 4 semifinals

GRAND RAPIDS — Rudyard’s deepest basketball tournament run since 1963 ended in the MHSAA Division 4 semifinals on Thursday.

The Wyoming Tri-unity Christian Defenders downed the Bulldogs 61-43 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.

Junior guard Brady Titus scored 28 points and senior forward Austin Treece had 11 points and eight rebounds to lead the Defenders, who returned to the state final for the first time since 2013.

Rudyard finishes 18-3. EJ Suggitt scored 19 points and Tate Besteman finished with 13 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs.

Rudyard entered the semifinals on an eight-game win streak and won their previous tournament games by an average of 33 points. But it was clear early that Wyoming Tri-unity, a perennially strong program, would be a tough challenge.

“It is great to be here,” Rudyard coach Jim Suggitt said. “I wish it could be the whole experience for these kids.

“(Tri-unity) is as every bit that we have seen on the seven-game tape that we have. Mark (Keeler) always does a great job with those guys. Mark has been here a dozen times, and it’s like he has his own invitational.”

Led by speedy point guard Titus, the Defenders raced out to a 20-6 lead with just under a minute remaining in the first quarter. Having difficultly slowing Titus from getting into the paint, the Bulldogs switched from a man-to-man defense to a 1-2-2 zone.

Rudyard went on a 10-0 run, starting with a layup from Hayden Mills and a long 3-pointer from Suggitt to close the quarter down 20-11.

The Bulldogs’ run continued into the second quarter with a jumper from Besteman and another long 3-pointer from Suggitt to make it 20-16. But the Defenders began to hit shots against the Rudyard zone and rattled off their own 9-0 run to extend their lead to 29-16. The Defenders went on to lead 36-19 at halftime, scoring the last seven points over the final 3:18 of the first half.

Titus scored 16 points in the half and the Defenders shot 54 percent from the field before intermission.

Down 17 at the half, the closest the Bulldogs could get the rest of the way was 13 points early in the third quarter. After a jumper from Cam Peterson, the Bulldogs trailed 36-23 with 7:20 left in the third quarter.

The Defenders still led 48-30 through three quarters. Wyoming Tri-unity led by as many as 21 points in the fourth.

The Defenders limited the Bulldogs to their lowest scoring output of the season, even though Suggitt connected on five 3-pointers.

Both teams had issues with turnovers. The Bulldogs finished with 21 turnovers, while the Defenders had 18.

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