By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Tonight's MHSAA boys basketball Quarterfinals include plenty of matchups you'd expect to see during the final week of the season – and a few that will establish clear favorites as we move to Breslin Center this weekend.
In Class A, powers Detroit Pershing and Romulus have been considered the frontrunners all season and square off for the second time. In Class C, the winner of Detroit Consortium and Flint Beecher likely will be considered the team to beat this weekend. And in Class D, Southfield Christian and Climax-Scotts meet in a rematch of last season's MHSAA Final.
See below for a quick glance at all 16 games being played this evening. And click here for brackets including tip-off times and sites for every game.
Detroit Pershing (25-0) vs. Romulus (24-1): This rematch, held at University of Detroit Mercy, pits what most believe are the two best teams in the state regardless of class. Pershing won the first matchup, 83-76 on Dec. 8, and has continued to stack victories by large margins and close – including by two points in two of the last three games. Get there early for the 5 p.m. tip.
Saginaw (22-3) vs. Ypsilanti (20-4): The reigning Class A champion Trojans have rebounded from a 30-point loss to Romulus on the final night of the regular season to beat all of their tournament opponents by double figures. Ypsilanti is riding a 10-game winning streak and is a combined five points from boasting a 23-1 record.
Detroit Southeastern (19-5) vs. Rochester (21-4): Southeastern might’ve gone a little under the radar following Detroit Public School League frontrunners Pershing and Cass Tech. But the Jungaleers can make a loud statement by beating Rochester and Kentucky recruit James Young, a Mr. Basketball finalist this season.
Grand Rapids Christian (19-6) vs. Muskegon (19-6): The Eagles and standout Drake Harris have been making headlines lately and have bounced back nicely from a 2-4 start this winter. But Muskegon has to come in with some confidence as well after beating Christian 72-48 in their lone meeting Jan. 22.
Big Rapids (23-1) vs. Cadillac (20-4): Both of these teams are league champions – Cadillac as one of three that shared in the Big North Conference and Big Rapids after finishing 18-0 in the Central State Activities Association. Both boast high-scoring guards – Big Rapids led by junior Quinn Tyson (21.7 ppg) and Cadillac countering with senior Nick Paquet (15 ppg).
Detroit Country Day (22-3) vs. Flint Powers Catholic (13-12): Country Day is playing to return to the Semifinals for the fourth straight season and is keyed by 6-foot-3 point guard Edmond Sumner (16.1 ppg). Powers is looking to get back for the first time since 2009 and has made a nice run after a 3-8 start under first-year coach Jeremy Trent, formerly of Swartz Creek and Burton Bentley.
Jackson Lumen Christi (21-3) vs. Detroit Community (16-9): After losing seasons in coach Rich Karasek’s first two, Lumen Christi is having one of its best seasons ever; the Titans are a combined 12 points from being undefeated and eliminated two-time reigning MHSAA champion Lansing Sexton in the Regional. Community’s record is a bit deceiving – four of those losses came to Class A or C Quarterfinalists and two more to out-of-state powers.
Stevensville Lakeshore (24-0) vs. Wyoming Godwin Heights (22-2): Lakeshore is 48-2 over the last two seasons, and another win also would be coach Sean Schroeder’s 400th. Similarly, Godwin Heights is 46-3 over the last two seasons. One of its losses this winter was to Class A Quarterfinalist Grand Rapids Christian, and the Wolverines beat Class D Quarterfinalist Wyoming Tri-unity Christian.
Detroit Consortium (20-3) vs. Flint Beecher (24-1): Consortium has played courageously since coach Al Anderson died unexpectedly a month ago; the Cougars have won all eight games since that night and 19 of their last 20. Now they’ll contend with reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher and Mr. Basketball Monte Morris (21.5 ppg), whose only loss was by seven to Class A favorite Detroit Pershing on Jan. 19.
Laingsburg (22-2) vs. Beaverton (22-2): This is Beaverton’s fifth Quarterfinal under coach Roy Johnston, who has won 705 games over 39 seasons at four schools and took Beaverton to the Semifinals in 1984. The Wolfpack have made it this far twice before during coach Greg Mitchell’s 24-season career – in 1997 and 2002 – and he’d win his 350th game if Laingsburg advances.
Maple City Glen Lake (23-2) vs. Negaunee (23-1): Glen Lake is only a combined four points from being perfect this season, and the run has included beating reigning Class C runner-up Traverse City St. Francis during the regular season and again in the District Final. Negaunee improved to 45-4 over the last two seasons with its Regional title, and also avenged its lone loss, to Class A Marquette.
Schoolcraft (23-2) vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (22-2): St. Mary Catholic is back in the Quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons, and aside from a pair of losses to Milan is undefeated this winter. Schoolcraft has won three straight Regionals and was the Class C champion in 2011. Guard Luke Ryskamp was his team’s leading scorer that night as a sophomore, and is finishing off one last run.
Climax-Scotts (24-1) vs. Southfield Christian: This rematch of the 2012 MHSAA Final takes place a couple games earlier and this time at Battle Creek Central, but should be closer than last season’s 76-44 Southfield Christian win. A one-point loss to Mendon is the only flaw on Climax-Scotts’ record, and Southfield Christian has won 17 straight since opening 3-4.
Cedarville (22-1) vs. Powers North Central (22-3): People still bring up Cedarville’s 3-point fueled run to the 2007 championship, and the Trojans could be back, as their only loss was to another Quarterfinalist, Frankfort. North Central also has a great story – the team won a combined 25 games over coach Adam Mercier’s first four seasons before upping it to 16 each of the last two and 22 this winter.
Lansing Christian (21-3) vs. Beal City (17-7): Both of these teams are hoping to march to a first MHSAA title. The Pilgrims have won 16 straight and boast four players who average double figures scoring. The Aggies will counter with a defensive effort that has held opponents to fewer than 50 points 12 times this season.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (23-2) vs. Frankfort (20-5): Tri-unity is back in the hunt for a fifth MHSAA championship and second in three seasons; the Defenders have won 17 straight and as usual against a number of bigger schools. Frankfort has made a major rebound after losing four of its last five during the regular season and counters with 6-3 sophomore David Loney (17.8 ppg).
PHOTO: Romulus' Juwan Clark gathers a loose ball during a win over Saginaw Arthur Hill last month. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)