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Truman falls to Romulus in district final PHOTO GALLERY/TOUT VIDEO

  • Devain Newbill (15) and the Truman Cougars gave a strong effort Friday night, but fell 70-56 to Romulus in the Class A, District 15 title game. Photo gallery by Frank Wladyslawski

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Two of the state’s best Class A boys’ basketball programs collided Friday night in Belleville to decide this season’s District 15 title.

Despite a strong effort from Downriver League champion Truman (20-3), the squad saw its season come to an end with a 70-56 loss to defending state champion and No. 6-ranked Romulus (19-4), which will go on to play Crestwood Monday at Saline in the first round of regionals.

The Cougars, who also spent much of the season ranked, were led by Aaron Foster-Smith’s 22 points and four rebounds, as well as 10 points and 16 rebounds from Anthony Wartley-Fritz and 12 points from Devain Newbill.

For the Eagles, standout Kristopher Clyburn guided the way with a game-high 28 points, while teammate Jaylin Walker scored 12 and D’Angelo Hansbro netted 11.

The Cougars went into the half down only 33-29, thanks to 16 points from Foster-Smith, along with tough team defense and some big rebounds from Wartley-Fritz.

Near the final minute of the half, Truman took a one-point lead, but the Eagles responded with a late tip-in from Walker to go back up.

Truman Coach Chuck Suttles said his squad had set out to keep the Eagles from scoring in that manner, but fell short of the goal Friday night.

“Our plan was to try and limit their second effort and we just weren’t putting bodies on people,” Suttles said. “They came to play and wanted it a little bit more than we did and their athleticism kind of took over the game.”

That athleticism was on display early in the third quarter when Walker went in alone and dunked to give his team a 41-29 lead around the 5:30 mark.

Before the quarter was over, however, Truman was able to pull within seven after Newbill capped off a strong eight minutes with a late bucket to make it a 48-41 game.

A pair of early fourth-quarter free throws from Foster-Smith cut the deficit to five, at 50-45, but a triple from Clyburn helped Romulus go on a 7-0 run and the Cougars never fully recovered.

Although Truman’s road to a state title ended early, Suttles said he’s proud of how the team played and with what the group accomplished this season, especially the seniors, both on and off the court.

“It’s a tough loss for us, but we gave it the best effort we could give it tonight,” he said.

“(I’m) really going to miss those guys, they’re all great kids. These kids have come away with some quality character and they’re very loyal to each, just a great group of athletes.”

Last Updated: 3/9/2014 11:45:46 PM EST