BRIGHTON — For most of Monday’s Class A district tournament opener, Brighton had held South Lyon’s top scorer, Josh Remstad, to just three points, on a 3-pointer to begin the game.
Then, at the end of a back-and-forth game, Remstad got the ball and hit another 3-pointer for the game winner, lifting the Lions to a 40-37 victory.
“Unfortunately, I had a good angle, and it was dead on,” Brighton coach Mike Griest said of the shot, which came with 1.6 seconds remaining. “The ball floats there long enough to punch you in the gut, and then it goes through.”
South Lyon (8-13) advanced to Wednesday’s semifinal against South Lyon East (2-18), which had a bye. Hartland (8-11) will meet Howell (13-7) in the other semifinal.
Before the game, Griest said it was anyone’s district, and the Bulldogs and Lions proved that point with a taut roller coaster of a game.
Each team led by five points once, and the lead was traded several times in the fourth quarter with neither team leading by more than three.
“Games like that come down to who makes The Play,” Griest said. “(Remstad) made The Play and won the game.”
“I was so happy for him,” South Lyon coach Doug Host said. “I know he was really frustrated and Brighton does a great job defensively. It was nice to see him get the ball in the end.”
Both teams forced the other to the perimeter most of the night. Brighton, which hadn’t shown much from beyond the arc this season, had seven 3-pointers, four by Connor Cavallero, who led all scorers with 15 points.
“My teammates were finding me and I was hitting my shots,” he said.
The Bulldogs had the height advantage and took advantage, but the Lions hung in there.
“We knew they would play hard and play excellent defense,” Host said of the Bulldogs. “I know they hammered us on the boards.”
It was a tough, physical game, but both coaches praised the other’s team for playing hard without losing composure.
“It was a great game to be a part of,” Host said. “The kids treated each other with class throughout.”
But, in the end, it was South Lyon who celebrated the victory.
“There’s no words, and I don’t pretend to tell them words that will make the pain go away,” Griest said. “It’s going to hurt for a while. Our kids are resilient, they’re tough kids, they’re good people, and they have a lot of support, too.”
“You can’t be sure until the buzzer goes off,” Cavallaro said. “We played as best we could. The kid hit a good shot. We can’t do anything from there. He hit a good shot.”