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Benton Harbor boys heading back to the state championship

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Throughout this boys basketball season, the Benton Harbor Tigers have had one goal in mind - to get back to the Breslin Center.

They accomplished that feat, earning a spot in Friday's Class B semifinals. Then, with a 60-49 win over River Rouge, Benton Harbor captured its first trip to the state championship since 2014.

“It was a lot of emotion because it’s the Breslin," said senior Elijah Baxter, who led a key run in the decisive third quarter. "It’s a dream come true. We play hard every second because we’re seniors. The clock is ticking. Every game could be your last game.”

Win or lose, the Tigers seniors will be playing their final game on Saturday night.

The semifinal win went a long way towards erasing the memories of falling one game shy of last year's championship game. However, head coach Corey Sterling said that experience has fueled Benton Harbor all season.

"This senior group earned it," he said. "They’ve been working hard in the offseason. As soon as we lost last year, they got back in the gym the next day.”

The Tigers will meet Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Saturday's Class B State Championship. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Breslin Center on Michigan State's campus.

But now that Benton Harbor has returned to the Breslin and taken the first step, the next goal is obvious to Sterling.

"We want the ring tomorrow."

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