By: Butch Harmon
Boys basketball preview
By BUTCH HARMON
Change will be in store for boys' basketball teams this year. Some outstanding talent has graduated and moved on to the college ranks, and a number of prestigious programs will be switching classes this season come tournament time. The changes should make for an exciting hoops season. While some things will change, some will remain the same, with Saginaw, Beecher, and Lansing Sexton again being some of the premier teams in the state. High School Sports Scene breaks down this year’s boys' basketball season.
Teams to watch statewide: Detroit Cass Tech, Romulus, Ypsilanti, Clarkston.
Romulus had one of the most talented squads in the state last season before being stopped by Rockford in the Class A state semifinals. Look for Romulus to again have a team loaded with talent and poised to make another march to the Breslin Center. With Detroit Pershing dropping down to Class B, Detroit Cass Tech looks to take the mantle as the premier Class A team in the city of Detroit.
Top local teams: Saginaw, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Grand Blanc, Mt. Pleasant.
Saginaw captured its sixth state championship last March as it took a group of blue-collar players and turned back every challenge in its way last year. The Trojans have another deep and talented team that may not have star power but has plenty of hard-working, unselfish players. Cross-town rival Arthur Hill will again battle the High for local and state supremacy. Senior Jalen Adams is an explosive talent and is the leader of the Lumberjacks, along with talented sophomore Eric Davis. The Saginaw Valley will again be stocked full of talent, as Carman-Ainsworth has another athletic and gifted team, led by senior guard Denzel Watts. In mid-Michigan, keep an eye on the Mt. Pleasant Oilers, who have a talented, young squad led by juniors Jaleel Hogan, TJ Johnson, and Aaron Leasher.
Top players in the state: James Young, Rochester; EC Matthews, Romulus; Bishop Robinson, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix; Wes Clark, Romulus; Jackson Lamb, Bedford; Drake Harris, Grand Rapids Christian.
Top local players: Jalen Adams, Saginaw Arthur Hill; JD Tisdale, Swartz Creek; Denzel Watts, Carmen-Ainsworth; Eric Davis, Saginaw Arthur Hill; Brian Morton, Lansing Eastern.
State finals prediction: Saginaw over Romulus.
Teams to watch statewide: Detroit Pershing, Detroit Country Day, Dowagiac, Detroit Community.
The big news in Class B is that things just got tougher, with long-time Detroit powerhouse Pershing moving down to Class B. Along with Country Day and Detroit Community, the Detroit area is loaded in Class B. Toss in the fact that Flint Northern, Flint Northwestern and Flint Southwestern are all in Class B, and it's no secret that Class B is just as tough or tougher to win than Class A will be.
Top local teams: Lansing Sexton, Bridgeport, Lansing Catholic.
While Denzel Valentine has moved on to Michigan State University, no one should shed any tears for Lansing Sexton. The Big Reds have a ton of young talent waiting to explode on the scene, and the lineup was further strengthened in the off-season when three-point marksman Jeremy Williamson transferred from Jackson High School to Sexton. Sexton will again be challenged on the district level, as Lansing Catholic, Perry, and Williamston have solid squads.
Top players in the state: Bo Ziegler, Detroit Community; Dontel Highsmith, Dowagiac; Austin Price, Detroit Country Day; Josh Kozinski, Edwardsburg; Kahlil Felder, Detroit Pershing.
Top local players: Jalen Hayes, Lansing Sexton; Jeremy Williamson, Lansing Sexton; Trevor Manuel, Lansing Sexton; Lance Monroe, Bridgeport; Jimmy Kodet, Williamston; David Poljan, Lansing Catholic.
State final prediction: Lansing Sexton over Detroit Country Day.
Teams to watch statewide: Detroit Consortium, Schoolcraft, New Haven, Detroit Loyola.
Detroit Consortium has been one of the most talent-laden teams in the state the past few years, and this season will be no different. Consortium returns talented senior big man Vince Hunter (6'7") and adds the state’s top freshman, Josh Jackson (6'6", 235 pounds). Detroit Loyola and New Haven also have rosters stocked with talent, while Schoolcraft is poised to make another deep tournament run behind senior sharpshooter Luke Ryskamp.
Top local teams: Beecher, Pewamo-Westphalia, Laingsburg.
Led by sensational senior guard Monte Morris, Beecher is primed to defend its state title. Pewamo-Westphalia had one of the most talented young teams in the Lansing area last season, and with another year of experience under its belt, the Pirates are on the verge of a huge season. Laingsburg will be challenging Pewamo-Westphalia for top honors, not only in the league, but come tournament time as well.
Top players in the state: Luke Ryskamp, Schoolcraft; Vincent Hunter, Detroit Consortium; Josh Jackson, Detroit Consortium; Tyler Jandron, Negaunee.
Top local players: Monte Morris, Beecher; Nick Spitzley, Pewamo-Westphalia; Erick Layton, Hamady; Ty Simon, Pewamo-Westphalia; Shaun McKinney, Laingsburg.
State final prediction: Detroit Consortium over Beecher.
Top teams in the state: Tri-Unity Christian, Climax-Scotts, Detroit Westside Christian, Lenawee Christian.
Tri-Unity Christian has been the gold standard in Class D the past decade, and the Defenders will again be the team to beat this season. Climax-Scotts reached the state finals last season, and with 6'7" post players Malachi Satterlee and Aaron Cook back in the fold, it should be a major factor come March. Detroit Westside Christian has one of the top all-around players in the state returning in senior Kaion Seales (6'7") who averaged 18 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists a year ago.
Top local teams: Sacred Heart Academy, Lansing Christian.
With returning all-state guard Mitchell Myler back to lead the way, Sacred Heart Academy is primed for a big season. Sacred Heart also has a strong inside force in junior big man Brooks Hyble (6'5"). Lansing Christian is another very talented team, led by Skylar Ross (6'3") and Josh Whitney (6'5") up front.
Top players in the state: Joey Blaukamp, Tri-Unity Christian; Evan Kraatz, Inter-City Baptist; Malachi Satterlee, Climax-Scotts; Kaion Seeales, Detroit Westside Christian.
Top local players: Mitchell Myler, Sacred Heart; Skylar Ross, Lansing Christian; Hunter Selby, Genesee Christian; Denzel Jordan, Holt Lutheran; Brooks Hyble, Sacred Heart.
State final prediction: Tri-Unity over Climax-Scotts.