FLASHBACK FRIDAY – 1972 Class B Boys Final

High School
Michigan

Posted On: 10/26/18 8:42 AM

Wrangler Jeans were $12,  the average cost of new house was $27,550.00 and a pound of ground beef was 98 cents. But the only numbers that mattered that March were River Rouge 65, Muskegon Heights 64. 

River Rouges heart-stopping 65-64 decision over Muskegon Heights in Jenison Field House, with the Panthers rallying from a seven-point deficit with just over 40 seconds to play in a comeback is still regarded as the most dramatic ever in the Finals.

The following is an excerpt from Ron Pesch who covers high school basketball history:

After 16 appearances and 11 titles by River Rouge and coach Lofton Greene, the Class B crown had in the words of Detroit writer Joe Falls, “become almost their divine right each March.” Muskegon Heights had lost to Rouge in the Final one year earlier, but it appeared that the Tigers had finally turned the tables on the perennial powerhouse. With the lead 64-57 with only 58 seconds remaining on the clock at Jenison Field House, this game appeared to be over. But, in perhaps the most amazing comeback in tournament history, the turnaround started with 45 seconds remaining. Ralph Perry’s easy lay-up cut the Heights margin to five points. Fouled on the play, Perry missed the free throw, but teammate Byron Wilson pounded home the rebound and the Panthers trailed by three. An errant inbound pass kept the dream alive. Leighton Moulton sank a 22-foot jumper with 23 seconds remaining, and the Panthers trailed by a point, 64-63. The Tigers were called for traveling on the change of possession, and Rouge had its chance. Moulton, the leading scorer in the contest, was again called upon. He drove toward the basket and was fouled before the shot. “The clock read: 0:02. If Moulton missed the first, it would have been all over,” wrote Falls, capturing the scene in characteristic clarity. “All of it rested on his lean, lithe shoulders … and the delicate touch in his finger. He stepped to the line while the crowd quieted. The pressure was immense. Moulton looked up, let it go – and swish. Now utter bedlam. Moulton broke toward the center of the court, thrusting his fist into the air. He jumped and danced and was mobbed by his teammates. … He’d tied it. Rouge could do no worse than go into overtime. But now he had another chance,” continued Falls, “the chance to win it. He made the most of it by dropping in his second free throw. … That’s when the tears started coming out of Lofton Greene’s eyes, if you can imagine that.”

Muskegon Heights and River Rouge have continues to reign supreme over the past few decades with the Heights reaching the State finals seven times since 1972 and River Rouge has won 28 Regional Titles – 20  Final 4 Appearances – 14  State Titles