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BLOOMFIELD HILLS NOTEBOOK: Black Hawks power along without star, ready for shot at the title WITH PHOTO GALLERY and TOUT VIDEOS

  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
  • Bloomfield Hills became the first Oakland Activities Association team to reach the state championship game since Pontiac Northern did it back in 2002. (Photo gallery by Vaughn Gurganian of The Oakland Press)
EAST LANSING – Bloomfield Hills refused to fold. It could have, but the likes of senior captains Yante Maten and Armand Cartwright and role players like Xzavier Reynolds and Cameron Dalton just wouldn’t let that happen.

With Khalil Gracey, the team’s second-leading scorer, gone, no longer with the team due to legal issues, the Black Hawks have rallied together to win a pair of huge games and give themselves a chance at a state championship.

Their shot at the crown appeared to be fading away following Gracey’s dismissal in the hours before the quarterfinals Tuesday.

However, Bloomfield Hills flew past Warren Mott 74-68 in that contest and then rampaged to an 85-75 downing of Catholic League-champ Detroit U-D Jesuit Friday afternoon in the Class A state semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

“It was a big thing,” said Maten of Gracey’s unavailability. “Armand and I had to take our leadership to another level."

Maten recorded yet another prolific statistical outing against U-D Jesuit, scoring 25 points (10 in the final 2:30), grabbing 18 rebounds, blocking six shots and dishing five assists.

Cartwright was his usual steadying influence in the backcourt, tallying 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

After playing clutch Tuesday in the quarterfinals at Calihan Hall, Reynolds and Dalton, delivered again Friday; Reynolds notched a career-high 16 points and Dalton pumped in 18 on 3-of-6 shooting from long range.

“We have a major factor on our team missing, so guys like me and Cam have to take advantage of the chances we get to step up and come through,” Reynolds said. “I think we both look at it as a way to get better.”

Looking forward

Up next for Bloomfield Hills is a match-up with undefeated Muskegon (27-0), the state’s No. 1 team for most of the season. The Big Red is anchored by Mr. Basketball, Deshaun Thrower (Stoney Brook), a savvy floor general, and all-state junior center Deyonta Davis (committed to Michigan State). The game within a game will see Maten and Davis square off in a war of arguably the two top centers in the state going at in the paint.

“Muskegon is a very talented group of players,” Bloomfield Hills head coach Duane Graves said. “They do a lot of different things well, they’re big and fast and play with tons of desire. It’s going to be a challenge."

Proving a point

Yante Maten was snubbed in the 2014 Mr. Basketball candidacy list, not named one of the Top 5 finalists. It was probably a gigantic mistake, as the 6-foot-8 post prowler is playing some of the most devastating basketball on the blocks the MHSAA state tournament has seen in recent memory.

Asked if being overlooked has had any effect on him after his enormous effort Saturday, (on the heels of triple-double Tuesday in the quarterfinals - 32 points, 18 rebounds, 10 blocks), Maten was diplomatic.

“It wasn’t that big of a deal to me, I’m going to go out there and compete my hardest no matter what,” he said. “I always want to play with a chip on my shoulder.”

Obviously, the Bloomfield Hills big fella is content letting his performance on the hardwood make his point for him. That point being that he deserved to be included in the balloting.

Winning whiskers

Black Hawks head coach, Duane Graves is sporting the traditional playoff beard for his team’s tournament run. He hasn’t shaved since the regular-season finale.

“I stop shaving during winning streaks,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t love seeing it in the mirror, it’s not my favorite look. I’ll ride it out though until tomorrow and then I’ll be happy to take it off and have my regular face back. Can't mess with a streak, though.”

Last Updated: 3/21/2014 9:32:00 PM EST

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