The ‘EPIC NIGHT!’ series is a first-person account of some of the greatest high school basketball games that we’ve witnessed firsthand. I have a few guest writers lined up who will contribute to this series over the coming weeks, but please, if you have a game that you watched that has stuck with you over the years that you’d like to write about, e-mail patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com. We’d love to have as many people contribute to this series as possible, especially from outside of the Flint area — most of my experience is in this area and I’d really like to get some feedback on great games over the years from other regions of the state.
Up today, Pardeep Toor looks at one of several Goodrich-Powers passionate battles in the Class B playoffs.
By Pardeep Toor
There are unwritten rules about privilege in America. There are rich and there are poor, hard workers and lazy folk, independent intelligence and collective stupidity — that’s just how it is.
And that’s sometimes how rivalries unfold in the battle of public versus private high schools, when one entity can attract star athletes with the lure of post-secondary eyes and a better education. An almost annual result of this for a while in the late 2000s became Powers Catholic taking on Goodrich in the opening round of the playoffs. On March 9, 2009, they, the small public school that could, almost took down the private empire.
Goodrich was barely kept in the game in the first half by a red hot Torey Laferney who had six first half 3-pointers but still found his team down 50-36 at halftime. Goodrich slowly erased a 14 point halftime lead, pulling within two, 77-75 with 35.1 seconds left in the game but failed to even attempt a game-tying or winning shot after turning the ball over on three straight possessions in the final half minute. Laferney finished the game with 26 points and was complemented by Andrew Patrick’s 19 but as tradition assumed, their season ended with a loss to Powers.
The beauty of the game was that Goodrich may not have been better than Powers at any position but they simply out-worked and out-played a more talented team in the second half. There’s no guarantee that Goodrich would have made the final shot of the game to either win or tie but if you believe in cosmic fairness than you too would expect them to win on the final possession after fighting so hard just to be in that position. A just world and circumstance would not have been the result of a Goodrich victory but it’s meaning would have measured somewhere between a playoff win and a revolution against the establishment. The exact significance would depend on the eye of the beholder, but at the very least it revealed a potential vulnerability at one end and strength on the other that future classes could build upon in each direction.
After the game, Goodrich coach Gary Barns opened the questioning by asking Flint Journal reporter Bill Khan if he wore a Powers Catholic varsity jacket to the game. Whether fair or not based on Khan’s perceived affinity to Powers athletics I cannot say; but it was hilarious and I will always love Barns for it. Although asked in a half joking manner, the question resonates deeper as it uncomfortably suggests favoritism in the media for the established power as opposed to the small town. The narrative is replicated and amplified in towns and counties all over the country but largely remains unwritten in a manner that suggests change, fairness or equal opportunity to build a program. A Powers victory in March 2009 is remembered as one of many that season but maybe a Goodrich win would have revealed the colors of the varsity jackets that we all put on each morning.
Where are they now?
Here is a rundown of where a few players from that game have ended up.
- Flint Northern vs. Powers Catholic, Feb. 2, 2010
- Powers Catholic vs. Carman-Ainsworth, March 5, 2009
- Mt. Morris Alternative vs. Detroit Westside, March 10, 2009