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March 16, 2013
By: Butch Harmon

girls basketball state tournament preview


SPORTS:

SCHOOLS:

CLASS A GIRLS

Grand Haven captured the Class A state title last March, and the Buccaneers have picked up where they left off last season. They have dominated basketball in West Michigan and have also taken on all challengers from around the state. They have great size and skill, outstanding coaching, and defeated all but four foes by double digits or more this season. In southeast Michigan, Detroit King has a talented squad that can compete with anyone in the state. Ranked No. 1 in Class A for most of the season, King enters the postseason on a roll after defeating Detroit Cass Tech in the Detroit Public School League title game. Grosse Pointe South and Clarkston are two more top contenders from the Detroit area capable of deep tournament runs.

TOP TEAMS STATEWIDE

1. Grand Haven

2, Grosse Pointe South

3. Detroit King

4. Clarkston

TOP LOCAL TEAMS

1. East Lansing

2, Midland Dow

3. Grand Ledge

3. DeWitt

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Abby Cole, Grand Haven

2. Antania Hayes, Detroit King

3. Marti Corby, Forest Hills Central

TOP LOCAL PLAYERS

1. Kolbie Brow, Davison

2. Jessie Walter, Midland

3. Piper Tucker, East Lansing

4. Leah Somerfield, Greenville

LOCAL ANGLE

East Lansing has been the class of mid Michigan once again, as its conference winning reached the 70 mark. The Lady Trojans are loaded with talented players, starting with senior Piper Tucker and junior guard Meechi Thompson. The Lady Trojans also have plenty of size up front, with 6'3" Grace Whelan and 6'3" Kelcie Haizlip. East Lansing will be tested on the regional level at Grand Ledge, as the host Comets have turned in a solid season along with DeWitt and Waverly. Midland Dow is the powerhouse in the Saginaw – Bay region. Led by Josie Queary, a talented all-around player, Dow has been on a roll all season. Davison came within a point of defeating Dow at the beginning of the season, and the Cardinals have been on a roll since. Senior Kolbie Brow leads the way for Davison, which is on a collision course to meet Dow again in the regional at Kearsley.

CAN’T MISS DISTRICT GAME

The Grand Ledge district is full of great match-ups, starting with Waverly and DeWitt on Monday. The winner will play Grand Ledge or Everett two days later, and the survivor will meet East Lansing in Friday’s title game.

 STATE FINALS PREDICTION: East Lansing over Grosse Pointe South

CLASS B GIRLS

Defending state champion Goodrich was a heavy favorite before the season to win the state title, but the road has not been easy, as the Martians have been hit hard by injuries. Those injuries resulted in Taylor Gleason taking her game to another level and keeping the Martians near the top of the Class B polls and among the favorites to bring the title home. Plenty of challengers will attempt to throw up roadblocks, including Detroit Country Day, Flat Rock, Three Rivers, and Ludington.

TOP TEAMS STATEWIDE

1. Goodrich

2. Flat Rock

3. Detroit Country Day

4. Ludington

TOP LOCAL TEAMS

1. Freeland

2. Portland

3. Bullock Creek

4. Clare

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Taylor Gleason, Goodrich

2. Teagan Reeves, Three Rivers

3. Allie Havers, Mattawan

4. Sparkle Taylor, Flint Northwestern

TOP LOCAL PLAYERS

1. Tori Jankoska, Freeland

2. Lindsay Winter, Clare

3. Karli Herrington, Hemlock

4. Payton Birchmeier, Corunna

LOCAL ANGLE

After reaching the state semifinals last March, Freeland is on a mission this season to take it one step farther. Led by senior Tori Jankoska, one of the premier players in the state, Freeland has turned in a big season while facing a number of rugged opponents, including a big road win against Goodrich. While Jankoska is a dominating talent, the Falcons are far from a one-dimensional team. Portland has enjoyed another big season, and the Raiders are set for a nice tournament run provided they can get past a dangerous Ionia team in the district semifinals. Lindsay Winter and her Clare teammates have turned in a big season and have the potential for a long tournament run. Hemlock and Corunna have enjoyed solid seasons. Karli Herrington has been a major force for Hemlock, while Payton Birchmeier leads the way for Corunna.

CAN’T MISS DISTRICT GAME

Goodrich district semifinal game between Corunna and Goodrich and Middleville district semifinal matchup between Portland and Ionia.

STATE FINALS PREDICTION: Freeland over Goodrich

 

CLASS C GIRLS

The Reese Rockets are loaded and ready to blast off in the state tournament. The top-ranked team in Class C has been dominating teams on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor this season. Their closest win this year was a 10-point victory over Nouvel Catholic Central, and only two other teams have managed to finish within 20 points of the Rockets. Brandywine comes out of southwest Michigan with a tough defensive team that features a balanced attack on offense. Manchester is one of the teams to watch out of southern Michigan, while Pine River has been dominating teams in northwestern Michigan. Kent City is one of the most dangerous teams in the state, and when they hit from three-point range are capable of taking any team out of the tournament.

TOP TEAMS STATEWIDE

1. Reese

2. Brandywine

3. Manchester

4. Pine River

TOP LOCAL TEAMS

1. Nouvel Catholic Central

2.Valley Lutheran

3. Hamady

4. Carson City-Crystal

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Reyna Frost, Reese

2. Jacqueline Simpson, Bendle

3. Hayley Maystead, Hillsdale

TOP LOCAL PLAYERS

1. Becca Scherting, Valley Lutheran

2. Taylor Hengesbach, Nouvel Catholic Central

3. Madison Smith, Pewamo-Westphalia

4. Sarah Miller, Montabella

LOCAL ANGLE

Plenty of outstanding teams abound in the area in Class C. Nouvel has been one of the premier Class C teams in the state. While theyl fell to top-ranked Reese, the Panthers have been the only team this year to have handed Freeland a loss, as Nouvel defeated the Falcons by 11 points in late January. Valley Lutheran has turned in another solid season. It has lost just three games, a pair of which were to Freeland, including a one-point defeat. Carson City-Crystal and Pewamo-Westphalia have been two of the top teams in mid Michigan. Pewamo-Westphalia has an athletic team with good size and experience that is looking to make it back to the elite eight. The Pirates and Carson City-Crystal are on a collision course to meet in the Class C district final at Pewamo-Westphalia.

CAN’T MISS DISTRICT GAME

The St. Charles district is the place to be. Hemlock and Nouvel will be a classic semifinal matchup, with the winner likely to face Valley Lutheran in the finals.

STATE FINALS PREDICTION: Reese over Brandywine 

CLASS D GIRLS

To find the best Class D girls' basketball teams this season, a trip to the upper peninsula would be required. St. Ignace, Superior Central, and Forest Park entered the final week of the regular season with just one loss between them. Toss in traditional eastern U.P. power DeTour, and it makes for four of the top ten teams residing north of the straits. Whichever team survives to make the trip south will be one of the favorites to bring home the state title.

TOP TEAMS STATEWIDE

1. St. Ignace

2. Superior Central

3. Forest Park

TOP LOCAL TEAMS

1. Portland St. Patrick

2. Lansing Christian

3. Crossroads Charter Academy

3. Sacred Heart Academy

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Lexi Gussert, Forest Park

2. Lexie Robak, Our Lady of the Lakes

3. Korynn Hincka, Posen

TOP LOCAL PLAYERS

1. Sara Hensen, Sacred Heart

2. Chelsey Wesley, Morrice

3. MiKayla Terry, Lansing Christian

4. Courtney Dixon, Portland St. Patrick

LOCAL ANGLE

Lansing Christian entered the final week of the regular season with a perfect record. Led by MiKayla Terry, a double-double machine, the Pilgrims have a talented squad that has all the ingredients to reach the final four and more. Portland St. Patrick reached the state semifinals last year, and with a large group of seniors back, the Shamrocks have turned in another solid season. Farther north, Sacred Heart and Beal City have played solid basketball all season. Senior Erica Hansen and junior Sara Hansen lead the way for the Irish, who have prepared for the tournament by playing a rugged non-league schedule facing a number of strong Class B and C schools. Beal City has a solid one-two punch with Melanie Schafer and Jordan Schneider who give the Aggies strong rebounding and offense.

CAN’T MISS DISTRICT GAME

It doesn’t get any better in Class D than opening night at the Beal City district, where the host Aggies entertain rival Sacred Heart Academy.

STATE FINALS PREDICTION: St. Ignace over Lansing Christian