By: Butch Harmon
boys basketball state tournament preview
By BUTCH HARMON
The story lines will be wide-ranging this March as the boys' basketball state tournament tips off. Familiar names dot the list of favorites in Classes A and B along with some new names. Classes C and D also have some old standbys and some squads that have not been heard from in a while. High School Sports Scene takes a look at this year’s state tournament and predicts who will make it to the Breslin Center.
Statewide outlook: Detroit Pershing, with talented senior Justin Tillman, is the team to beat and is one of the favorites to claim the title. It has a deep and talented team that will be a tough out. Pershing may face a difficult regional hurdle, though, in University of Detroit Jesuit and its sensational sophomore guards Cassius Winston and Billy Thomas. The Saline regional may prove to be the toughest in the state. Among the teams that could come out of Saline are fourth-ranked Taylor Truman, fifth-ranked Romulus, and seventh-ranked Ypsilanti. Muskegon is the No. 1-ranked team in the state, and the Big Reds appear poised for a long tournament run led by junior sensation Deyonta Davis, who has already committed to Michigan State University.
Area outlook: Saginaw High started the tournament with a bang by defeating rival Arthur Hill. Mt. Pleasant has enjoyed a successful season, and the Oilers are poised for a deep tournament run. They will have to navigate the Bay City Western district that includes Midland Dow. If the Oilers get through the district, they could run into a tough Marquette team in the regional semifinals before a potential regional showdown with Arthur Hill in the Lake Orion regional. A pair of competitive districts take place in the Lansing area. At the East Lansing district, DeWitt, Lansing Eastern, Waverly, and host East Lansing will be battling. In Mason, Holt and Grand Ledge both have squads that are ranked honorable mention in the state.
HSSS projected FINAL FOUR: Saginaw vs. Muskegon, Detroit Pershing vs. De La Salle Collegiate
HSSS projected STATE CHAMPION: Detroit Pershing over Muskegon
Statewide outlook: West Michigan has a trio of teams ranked in the top five in the state that will be battling it out for a berth in the final four. Godwin Heights, ranked second in the state, and Grand Rapids South Christian, ranked fourth in the state, will collide in the district at Kelloggsville. The winner of that district will have to get past Comstock Park in the regional before a potential showdown with Otsego in the quarterfinals. Otsego has one of the premier young teams in Class B, led by 7'0" junior center Seth Dugan and some talented junior wings. In southeast Michigan, Detroit Country Day and Detroit Douglass Academy have solid squads capable of bringing home a state title. Lumen Christi Catholic enters the tournament as the top-ranked team in the state, and with junior point guard Khari Willis, it's poised for a deep tournament run.
Area outlook: Corunna has turned in a solid season playing against some rugged competition that has prepared it for a postseason run. The Cavaliers host a district where they open with Flint Southwestern and may have to get past Goodrich in the final if they advance. Millington is ranked third in the state and will be the favorite at the Powers Catholic district. If Millington makes it to the regional at North Branch, it could face sixth-ranked Yale or seventh-ranked Imlay City in the semifinals, with a potential final involving the Corunna district winner. At the Pinconning regional, anything can happen. Big Rapids, Clare, and Reed City have solid teams that will battle it out at the Reed City district before moving on to Pinconning. John Glenn is a potential favorite at Pinconning. Alma, Central Montcalm, and Ovid-Elsie will be competing for the Ovid-Elsie district title, with the winner to face the Bridgeport district winner, possibly Carrollton or Swan Valley, in a semifinal at Pinconning.
HSSS projected FINAL FOUR: Otsego vs. Big Rapids, Detroit Douglass Academy vs. Milan
HSSS projected STATE CHAMPION: Detroit Douglass Academy over Otsego
Statewide outlook: Southeast Michigan is home to two of the premier teams in the state in Mt. Clemens and Detroit Consortium. Consortium features arguably the best sophomore in the nation in 6'6" Josh Jackson. Mt. Clemens has plenty of size and athleticism along the front line and has one of the top freshman guards in the state in Jermaine Jackson. The two superpowers could collide in the quarterfinal round, with the winner favored to take the state title. Boyne City is the premier team from northern Michigan. It is led by 6'5" junior Corey Redman, who has already committed to Central Michigan University. In west Michigan, Muskegon Heights and Shelby have solid squads capable of making it to the final four. In southern Michigan, keep an eye on Addison and its 6'10" senior center Luke Meyer, another future Central Michigan Chippewa.
Area outlook: Plenty of district options exist for area basketball fans. Valley Lutheran turned in a big season and hosts a district where Hemlock will be the major challenger. The Montrose district features a trio of standout teams. Host Montrose will be tough to beat on its own floor, while New Lothrop and Michigan Lutheran Seminary have teams capable of winning the district. Ithaca has been tough to beat at the district level, and that will be the case again when the Yellowjackets, led by Logan Hessbrook and Josh Hafner, travel to the Lakeview district. The Laingsburg district will be one to watch. The Laingsburg/Pewamo-Westphalia rivalry is one of the best in mid Michigan, with Pewamo-Westphalia getting the best of Laingsburg twice during the regular season. Carson City-Crystal is also in the mix at the Laingsburg district. Meridian has been ranked in the top ten in the state for much of the season and heads north to Pine River for district play along with a strong Beal City squad. Pine River is also a top-ten team, so this district will be very tough.
HSSS projected FINAL FOUR: Shelby vs. Muskegon Heights, Detroit Consortium vs. Boyne City
HSSS projected STATE CHAMPION: Detroit Consortium over Shelby
Statewide outlook: Defending state champion Southfield Christian enters the tournament ranked No. 1 in the state and is the team to beat for the title. With senior guard Lindsay Hunter IV and 6'6" big man DeMarco White, Southfield Christian is tough to defend. North Central is the prime contender from the Upper Peninsula, but it will have to get past Cedarville at the regional level. In southern Michigan, St. Philip Catholic is a team to watch.
Area outlook: Fulton has been one of the premier teams in mid Michigan this season. The Pirates have a deep and well-balanced team led by Nathan Davis, Gregg Jones, Dalton Trefil, and Colton Antes, and they are poised for a long tournament run. If the Pirates win a district title, they will journey to the Big Rapids regional, where they could be joined by a solid Sacred Heart Academy team. Morrice has enjoyed a big year, and the Orioles have the talent to not only win a district title but to also contend for a regional title at Morenci.
HSSS projected FINAL FOUR: Fulton vs. Southfield Christian, North Central vs. St. Philip Catholic
HSSS projected STATE CHAMPION: North Central over Southfield Christian