By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The talk of the 1998-99 high school boys basketball season in Michigan revolved around a pair of Class A stars who went on to meet in one of the most highly-anticipated MHSAA championship games in recent memory.
It’s been two decades since Lavell Blanchard led Ann Arbor Pioneer to a 54-47 win over Jason Richardson and Saginaw Arthur Hill, holding off the Lumberjacks’ third-quarter comeback attempt to claim the program’s lone boys basketball championship.
Richardson, who claimed the state’s Mr. Basketball Award just ahead of Blanchard earlier that week, had 16 points, nine rebounds and six steals in only 24 minutes of action with four fouls forcing him off the floor. Blanchard scored a game-high 29 points to go with 14 rebounds in his final prep game, staying on the court for all 32 minutes of the Pioneers’ victory.
Richardson played at Michigan State and then 14 seasons in the NBA, while Blanchard went on to University of Michigan and then played professionally in Europe.
This summer, Blanchard has found his way back to making an impact at the high school level. He was one of 30 first-year athletic directors in attendance at the MHSAA’s New Athletic Director Orientation Program at the MHSAA Office on Thursday and is readying to lead Manchester High School’s athletic department this school year.
PHOTO: Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Lavell Blanchard, left, defends the rim as Jason Richardson drives during the 1999 Class A boys basketball championship game.