Adapted from an article by James Gensterblum on March 22, 2014 on highschoolsports.com/news
Benton Harbor coach Corey Sterling knows what playing in the the MHSAA boys basketball state final can do for the players who are lucky enough to get there. There were seven JAG students who played on the state finals basketball team, including: Curtis Dawson, Jaton Gunn, Edward Headspeth, Cortez Moore, Malik Hall, Darrell Moss, and Demarcus Rainer.
After all, Sterling experienced it firsthand as a part of two Benton Harbor teams that fell to Detroit Pershing in the Class A state title game in 1992 and 1993.
So, while some may see the Tigers' 78-59 loss to Milan in the Class B state title game Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing as an end, Coach Sterling knows that it's only the beginning for the community of Benton Harbor and the Tigers' players.
"Our future is very bright," Sterling said. "I'm proud of the seniors for bringing the city back and helping to bring this community together, but we've got a young team, and we're going to work even harder now to get back there."
Sterling said the biggest difference in the lives of his players as a result of playing in the state finals will be in the opportunities they have moving forward, and that the trip to the finals will create opportunities for the Benton Harbor basketball program as well.
"It does a lot for you, because it opens up doors for people trying to help you, either getting opportunities to play in AAU, or just having people there to help you learn the knicks and knacks of the program," Sterling said. "As a program, basketball is everything in the city of Benton Harbor, and doing something like this means that we are going to get the support we need from the administration and the city to help us get to the next level.
"Things like sending our players to camp, program funds, travel arrangements, this will help with all of that. We've got the support of the city now, and as long as our players keep working hard, that means a lot for our future."
Sterling used the opportunities created by his high school team's state final runs to get into coaching, and now, having taken the Tigers back to the state finals as a coach, he feels blessed to have been able to give back to his community, he said.
"I feel like God put me into this position to help bring the city back, so it means everything to me to get back here," Sterling said. "We got here and came up short, but sometimes, even when you come up short you can come out on top in the end.
"It's uplifting for the kids to see the community supporting them, and it's uplifting for the community to see these kids do what they did. There are no tears or crying right now in our locker room, just excitement and appreciation."
Article Photo by Permission: Don Campbell, The Herald-Palladium, St. Joseph, MI