Orion boys' basketball defeats Macomb to share WCC North championship

Mindy Carls
Danny DeBacker puts up a shot in the Orion battle with Macomb for a share of the West Central North championship on Friday, Feb. 18, on the Charger floor.

Heart patients were warned to stay away from Orion’s showdown with Macomb on Friday, Feb. 18, to settle the first West Central Conference championship in boys’ basketball.

Coming into the game with a 7-2 record, the host Chargers needed a win to share the first championship with the Bombers. They got it, a 57-56 victory that sent them into the postseason with a 25-3 record overall.

It proved to be the kind of game that justifies a heart doctor’s concerns about their patients.

The Chargers led all but a few seconds of the game they hosted with the Bombers.

The hosts had a 12-point lead with three minutes to go in the first, only to let the Bombers back into the game.

Macomb actually led 45-44 early in the fourth quarter, when Zachary Grover converted a steal into a basket.

But seconds later Orion regained the lead. Andy Adams whipped the ball from the perimeter to Danny DeBacker under the basket for two points.

Seconds later, Charger Tanner Williams swatted away a Bomber shot.

At the other end of the floor, Adams hit a three from the corner, putting Orion up 49-45 with 5:20 to go in the game.

The Charger lead went to 51-45 when Caleb Nesbitt drew a foul on a rebound and spun in both free throws.

After Macomb nailed a basket, Adams fired in a shot to return the Orion lead to six points.

With just under three minutes to go, the lead went to eight points at 55-47. Zach Kahley scooped up a loose ball and DeBacker drew a foul and made both of his free throws.

But Macomb wasn’t done yet. Tyler Thorman rifled in a three. A Bomber grabbed a Charger miss, and Thorman passed to Trenton Henderson for a deuce.

That made it a one-possession game at 55-52 with 2:12 to go.

The Chargers were whistled for traveling on a baseline pass, and the Bombers made them pay when Seth Wickert converted two free throws.

With 1:25 to go, the Chargers clung to a one-point lead. DeBacker gave his team a little breathing room with two free throws.

Wickert hit a basket to cut the Macomb deficit to 57-56 with 55 seconds to go. The Bombers had a seemingly endless series of chances to win the game, starting with a Grover steal that led to his team’s working the ball around for the last shot.

With 2.9 seconds on the scoreboard, a Bomber lofted the ball and it clanged off the rim. Another shot was wild, setting off a Charger celebration.

DeBacker and Thorman tied for game-high honors. Each had 16 points.

Adams finished with 13 points and Williams with 12. Also chipping in points were Nesbitt, seven; Trent DeDecker, five; and Travis Anderson and Dylan Schultz, two each.

Orion hit five times from beyond the arc. Adams arched in three and DeBacker and DeDecker, one each.

Macomb had three treys.

The Chargers made 12 of 17 free throws, including six of eight with the game on the line in the fourth.

DeBacker shot 5-for-5; Schultz, 2-for-2; Nesbitt, 3-for-4; and Williams, 2-for-3.

The Bombers converted all 11 of their free throws.

It was senior night for the Chargers, who had Tony Weihler as their honorary coach. Playing for the last night on the Orion floor were DeBacker, Anderson, Nesbitt and Adams.

Senior cheerleaders and band members were honored, too.