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By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

(March 13, 2023 10:43 PM) Five days ago, Michigan Center High School basketball player Hunter Clemons was in a boot and not sure what the rest of the 2022-2023 season would look like.

Monday Clemons and the Cardinals gave Leslie the boot from the Michigan High School Athletic Association basketball playoffs.

Clemons and Adrien Putnam scored 13 points apiece in the second half for a 67-61 win over Leslie in the Division 3 regional tournament at Hanover-Horton High School.

Michigan Center (18-7) advances to the regional final Wednesday against Laingsburg (24-0) at 7 p.m. at HHHS. 

A sloppy second half left the Cardinals in a 34-26 deficit at halftime against the Blackhawks.

“We just had to slow it down a bit and be more patient,” MCHS Coach Travis Gaddy said. “We switched to a man and then diamond press to get the rhythm in our favor.”

It worked as the Cardinals pulled within one point at 45-44 at the end of the third quarter. Clemons scored eight points in the quarter for Michigan Center.

Putnam hit two shots to begin the fourth quarter as Michigan Center pulled ahead.

But Leslie wasn’t finished, taking a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Putnam and the defense took over outscoring Leslie 15-4 down the stretch. 

Putnam finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, Clemons scored 16 points, and Carter McCave scored nine points with six rebounds. Jayden Watson scored 11 points in the game and added seven rebounds for Michigan Center.

Zach Marciniak scored 16 points in the first half for Leslie, but was limited to two points in the final 16 minutes of action. 

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