EAST LANSING - Carlton Valentine wouldn't admit he has an obsessive compulsive disorder, but he just wanted to make sure his Lansing Sexton players took care of every last detail if they were to win their first state championship in 51 years.
"A lot of times you work hard and you tell guys to work hard, and it's just not enough," the Big Reds coach said. "We spend a lot of time on the preparation. My coaching staff and I spent almost 3 hours watching film today. We have become more detail-oriented to help develop the guys."
Valentine even organized a shoot-around in the Sexton gym 2 hours before tip-off, where he could make sure the players viewed the banner hanging with "1960" on it.
All that extra legwork paid off as Sexton (26-2) outshot, outrebounded, outran and outdefended Muskegon Heights in a 75-60 Class B title win at the Breslin Center.
The Big Reds put up a five-point win over the Tigers (21-7) on their home floor in January, but they weren't satisfied with that.
"Coach Valentine always talks about respecting your opponent," said Tyrin Wade, who scored a game-high 18 points. "When we saw them earlier in the season, we defeated them, but we didn't beat them, because we knew we would see them again in the postseason."
The contest was close for the first 12 minutes - the score was tied five times and the lead changed hands seven times.
Muskegon Heights took its largest lead of the game, 26-19, after Marquis Childers hit two long-range shots and Deontae Hudson converted a follow-up.
But then the Big Reds went on a tear, scoring on nine straight possessions during a 17-0 run that put them up by 10 points 3 minutes into the third quarter. All five Sexton starters - Bryn Forbes, Anthony Clemmons, Denzel Valentine, Jalen Hayes and Wade - contributed points during that stretch.
Once Sexton claimed the lead, it didn't let up, turning the ball over just twice out of the 13 times it handled the ball in the third, when it outscored the Tigers, 24-17.
The Tigers tried a foul-to-win strategy in the fourth quarter, but the Big Reds sank 15 of 19 attempts from the line during to ice the game. Muskegon Heights could get no closer than 11 points.
"We fought tonight, we gave it everything we had," Tigers coach Keith Guy said. "We lost to the better team tonight. Lansing Sexton played well and took the next step tonight. It was clearly their time."
Hudson, who torched Sexton for 34 points in the January meeting, shot 5 of 25 from the floor and was held to 16 points.
Denzel Valentine, who defended Hudson, had 17 points for Sexton. The Big Reds also got 15 from Clemmons and 10 from Forbes.