Basketball teams haven’t finished very high on our Tri-County Top 16 Polls over the last 11 school years.
A basketball squad has never finished in the top spot of our final poll. In fact, a team has never finished higher than fourth in any poll. The 2011-12 Fenton boys basketball team finished that high.
Eleven hoops teams of either gender have earned a spot in our top 10 in one of our polls, which means, on average, one squad makes it to the list every year. That’s not awful, but it isn’t impressive either.
The 2019-20 Tri-County Top 16 Poll doesn’t have a basketball team above the ranking of No. 5, but with that said, this was one of the most impressive years for hoops teams. Two were among the top seven, and the seventh team (the Linden varsity boys basketball team) wasn’t able to complete its Class A district tournament which would’ve helped the Eagles finish even higher than seventh. This marks the highest the two best basketball teams have ever ranked in our top 16.
That’s enough of the backstory. This week we’ll present our No. 5 squad in our 2019-20 Tri-County Top 16 Poll.
No. 5 – Lake Fenton girls basketball: This was the first time in the poll’s history the Blue Devils have earned a spot in the final top 16 list of a school year. The Blue Devils made sure they made it with a bang, finishing No. 5.
In some ways, it can be difficult to figure out why Lake Fenton would rank so high. The Blue Devils didn’t win their league crown. While finishing second, Lake Fenton finished a distant second with a 7-3 record in the Flint Metro League Stars Division, three games behind first-place Goodrich. During the regular season, the squad didn’t beat a state-ranked team either. However, that was only a part of the story.
The Blue Devils’ first solid victory came during a 59-43 road victory against Imlay City, a team that finished 15-8 a year ago and would finish the 2019-20 season with a 21-3 overall record. When the Blue Devils were forced to play the Stripes Division’s larger enrollment teams, the Blue Devils did well, going 4-2 against those squads.
Among those victories, Lake Fenton crushed tri-county rivals the Fenton Tigers 63-30, the Holly Bronchos 55-29 and the Linden Eagles 69-26.
However, two losses to Goodrich by margins of 8 and 11 points helped keep the Blue Devils under the radar as they entered postseason play with a solid 14-6 overall record.
Once the postseason began, the Blue Devils got better with each game they played. They crushed Mt. Morris 73-15 to open district play, and then beat Brandon 51-38 in the district semifinals. This gave the Blue Devils a third shot at playing the Goodrich Martians and this time dominated play throughout. The Blue Devils upset the 19-4 Martains by a 62-55 margin, earning the squad a D2 district championship.
The postseason didn’t end there. The Blue Devils faced an 18-5 Marine City squad in the regional semifinal and the Blue Devils just crushed their foes, forcing the mercy clock in a 74-31 victory. The win set the Blue Devils up for a regional title contest against Imlay City, a squad Lake Fenton had already beat 59-43 earlier in the season. However, that’s when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and canceled the rest of the season.
Even with the season ending early it was a memorable season many Blue Devils’ fans won’t forget. How great the end could’ve been is unknown, but a couple of things were certain. Lake Fenton was playing its best basketball during the tourney, and had already beat their next opponent. If not for the pandemic, a D2 state quarterfinal game may have been in their future, and who knows what else.