After faltering in last year's title game in Division 4, the Defenders have earned their way back to try again.

Tri-Unity Is All About The 'D'

Coach Mark Keeler stresses defense, and his team did just that Thursday afternoon at MSU's Breslin Center, shutting down Genesee Christian, 77-33, to earn a return trip to the Division 4 championship game.

"I'm very proud. That's why I brought the two sophomores (Owen Rosendall and Akais Giplaye), because their efforts on their two best players was amazing," Keeler told FOX 17 Sports following the win.

The Defenders will now face Ewen-Trout Creek from the Upper Peninsula in Saturday's early title tilt, which will tip off at 10AM. The Panthers bested Lake Leelanau St. Mary, 62-56 in Thursday's other semi-final.

Titus Once Again Leads The Offense

Brady Titus had 21 points to lead the Defenders. Rosendall had 11 points, while Hanis James pitched with nine points, and Giplaye had seven in the balanced Defender attack.

“Last year it was tough," Titus told the Detroit Free Press after the win, referring to last year's six point loss in the championship game to Detroit Douglass. "We came up short, but I think it definitely impacts the ‘want’ to win state. That’s really what it is — the drive to win the next game.”

Up Next, A Tough Team From The U.P.

The Defenders foe in the championship game, Ewen-Trout Creek, likes to play a more free wheeling brand of basketball that was evident in their win over St. Mary, where they rolled to a big lead, only to have to hold off a late rally. The Panthers like to push the ball up the court, which should challenge the Defenders.

The Panthers average over 70 points a game, and their only losses this season were to  larger schools, Kingsford, Painesdale and Hurley, WI. They are led to Kelsey Jilak and Jaden Borseth.

Catholic Central Rolls Over Benton Harbor In State Quarterfinal

The CC Cougars continued their quest for back to back titles in Division 2 with a big win over Benton Harbor at Calvin University.