Boys Finals: Your Dose of C and D

March 21, 2012

One thing is certain to happen this weekend at the often-unpredictable MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals:

We will have a first-time Class D champion. And there's a decent chance the Class C champion could feel like a first-timer as well.

All four Class D Semifinalists will be playing today for a first championship game berth. Only Traverse City St. Francis among Class C Semifinalists has never made a championship game -- but Flint Beecher is seeking its first MHSAA title since 1987, and Shelby its first since 1972.

Not that Schoolcraft is out of sight, out of mind. The Eagles are back at the Breslin Center to defend their Class C title, and with an all-stater to lead the way. 

Below is a schedule for today's Semifinals and all four Saturday Finals. Tickets cost $8 per session, and parking at Michigan State is $5. All Semifinals will be streamed live at along with the press conferences after each, and the C and D Finals both will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit. Click for scores as they come in, and return to Second Half for coverage of all 12 games this weekend at Breslin.

Today's Semifinals
Class C

Flint Beecher (26-0) vs. Schoolcraft (22-4) - 1 p.m.
Traverse City St. Francis (24-2) vs Shelby (24-2) - 2:50 p.m.
Class D

Muskegon Catholic Central (17-9) vs. Southfield Christian (22-2) - 6 p.m.
Climax-Scotts (25-1) vs. Carney-Nadeau (23-2) - 7:50 p.m.

Saturday's Finals
Class A - 4 p.m.
Class B - 8 p.m.
Class C - Noon
Class D - 10 a.m.

Now, a look at this season's Class C and D Semifinalists (Click for glances at Class A and B Semifinalists.):

Class C

26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Blue
Coach: Mike Williams, eighth season (137-61)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently Class B in 1987), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 63-49 over No. 4 Madison Heights Madison (Regional Semifinal), 38-36 (OT) over No. 3 Detroit Consortium (Regional Final), 59-55 over honorable mention River Rouge (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Monte Morris (6-3 jr. G – 18.3 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 spg), Antuan Burks (5-9 sr. G – 12.6 ppg, 34 3-pointers).
Outlook: This is the third straight season Beecher has made it to the Semifinals – last season the Buccaneers lost in overtime to eventual runner-up McBain. But this might be the season they break through led by Morris, the Class C Player of the Year by The Associated Press for the second straight season.

22-4, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Coach: Randy Small, eighth season (161-34)
Championship history: One MHSAA title (2011), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 55-52 over No. 2 Pewamo-Westphalia (Quarterfinal), 65-52 over honorable mention Bloomingdale (Regional Final), 68-58 over Olivet.
Player to watch: Luke Ryskamp (6-3 jr. F – 23.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg).
Outlook: A team with seven seniors including all-stater Ryskamp will try to defend its 2011 championship. Senior Bryan Jones, a 6-2 forward, also started in last season’s Class C Final. Schoolcraft avenged two of its losses during the District tournament, and can extend a solid run by Small that has included six league titles in eight seasons and three Regional titles over the last four.

24-2, No. 8
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Rick Zoulek, 27th season (385-221)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 1972), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 60-41 over honorable mention New Haven (Quarterfinal), 69-59 over North Muskegon.
Players to watch: David Beckman, Jr. (6-3 sr. F – 13.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Lucas Landis (6-4 sr. F – 12.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg).
Outlook: Shelby is big in the frontcourt with Beckman and Landis getting additional help from 6-5 senior center Jeremiah James (11.3 ppg). Guards Cody Stotler and Kody Plummer round out an all-senior starting line-up that has Shelby back in the conversation among Class C’s best. Total, the team boasts eight seniors. Its only losses were to North Muskegon and Class B Semifinalist Muskegon Heights.

24-2, No. 5
League finish: First in Lake Michigan Conference
Coach: Keith Haske, second season (39-9)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 67-42 over Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 68-52 over No. 7 Clare (Regional Final), 71-60 over honorable mention Negaunee (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Sean Sheldon (6-9 sr. F – 21 ppg, 11 rpg), Devin Sheehy (5-11 sr. G – 12 ppg, 7.0 apg, 5.0 spg).
Outlook: Haske has St. Francis at Breslin Center after bringing Charlevoix to the Finals multiple times. Sheldon, an all-stater, is one of two 6-9 players on the team and one of three 6-4 or taller in the main rotation. The Gladiators have mauled their postseason competition so far by an average margin of 24.8 points per game.

Class D

23-2, honorable mention
League finish: First in Skyline and Central Upper Peninsula conferences
Coach: Jacob Polfus, fourth season (60-30)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 57-51 over No. 7 Munising (Regional Final), 72-56 over No. 2 Pellston (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Lucas Moreau (5-10 sr. G – 18.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.9 apg), Wade Schetter (5-10 jr. G – 18.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 5.0 spg).
Outlook: Carney-Nadeau is led by high-scoring guards Moreau and Schetter, who have scored nearly 60 percent of the team’s points this season. Sophomore guard Keenan Lampinen adds 10.4 more points per game for a team boasting only one starter that stands even 6-1. That hasn’t seemed to matter much during a 20-game winning streak, which included wins over the two opponents who beat the Wolves early.

25-1, No. 5
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association
Coach: Steve Critchlow, first season (25-1)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 54-49 over honorable mention North Adams-Jerome, 50-39 over Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Malachi Satterlee (6-7 jr. F – 18.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg), Aaron Cook (6-7 jr. F – 10 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg).
Outlook: Satterlee was named all-state earlier this week and keys a towering frontcourt that also gets 9.5 points per game from 6-2 forward Jacob Hinga. Climax-Scotts hasn’t faced a team ranked in the top 10 of the state polls at the end of the regular season, but dominated its competition – its lone loss was by four to Kalamazoo Phoenix, and since the Panthers have won 11 of 12 games by double figures.

17-9, unranked
League finish: Fourth in River Valley Conference
Coach: David Ingles, second season (32-19)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 48-43 over No. 10 Fulton-Middleton (Regional Final), 61-50 over No. 4 Bellaire (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Jason Ribecky (6-4 sr. C – 19.1 ppg), Cari Campbell (6-3 jr. F – 11.4 ppg).
Outlook: Ribecky earned an all-state honorable mention earlier this week and has put the team on his shoulders during the tournament run – the Crusaders have beaten every playoff opponent by double figures except reigning runner-up Fulton. This is the longest run by Muskegon Catholic since it won its Class C Regional in 1999.

22-2, tied for No. 7
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference
Coach: Josh Baker, first season (22-2)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 78-77 over Belleville, 70-57 and 67-64 over Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, 98-84 over honorable mention Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Gavin Toma (6-2 sr. G – 19.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Chris Dewberry (6-2 sr. G – 16.2 ppg, 4.4 apg), Lindsey Hunter III (6-1 sr. G – 15.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.0 apg), Lindsey Hunter IV (5-11 soph. G – 11.9 ppg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian’s record is especially impressive considering the number of much larger schools it faced this season – the losses came to Class A power Southfield (by two points) and Class B Semifinalist Detroit Country Day. All four postseason wins have come by double figures (Southfield Christian also won one by forfeit.) The Hunters III and IV are the sons of the former Detroit Pistons guard by the same name.

PHOTO: Flint Beecher's Monte Morris had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his team's 70-66 Semifinal loss to McBain in last season's Class C Semifinal. He's back to lead Beecher again today.

South Christian Sails Into Latest Challenge, Earns Saturday Return

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 24, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Grand Rapids South Christian boys basketball team faced adversity when it lost standout sophomore Carson Vis to season-ending injuries in last week’s Regional Final.

The Sailors faced a different kind of adversity Friday in a Division 2 Semifinal, as they were tested for the first time since late January.

South Christian responded, and showed a steely resolve that put the team one step closer to a championship following a 40-35 overtime win over Romulus Summit Academy North at Breslin Center.

The Sailors will play Ferndale in Saturday’s Division 2 Final.

“We talk about adversity all the time, and we’re missing our 20 points a game star player, and so we’ve had some throughout the season,” South Christian coach Taylor Johnson said. “It builds character.”

Summit’s Dontez Scott Jr. works to get past the Sailors’ Nate Brinks.

South Christian had won 15 games in a row entering Friday, all by double digits. Summit gave the Sailors their closest game since losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Jan. 24. 

“We’ve been on a run here, and even as a coach, I feel like I haven’t done enough because we haven’t been in these situations,” Johnson said. “What a battle, and that’s what it’s all about. Two great teams with a lot of great players, and we found a way.”

Senior Jake DeHaan, who led the Sailors with 14 points, said he embraces playing in these types of games.

“This is what our team talks about, adversity, and we want to play in the biggest moments,” DeHaan said. “As a competitor, that's what you want to do. You want to play on the biggest stage against the best teams, and that's what we like to do.”

In a defensive struggle with points hard to come by, the Sailors maintained the lead throughout.

The Sailors took a 19-13 advantage into the half, but the Dragons rallied and cut the deficit to 23-21 with a minute left in the third quarter.

Summit’s Dominic Krzesowiak drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to knot the score at 31-31 with 30 seconds remaining in regulation.

In overtime, Nate Brinks buried a 3-pointer for South Christian after Summit took its only lead of the game.

Junior Jake Vermaas, who finished with 12 points, then made 6 of 6 from the free throw line to keep Summit at bay.

“I just kept dribbling with my head up and knocking down free throws when we needed them,” Vermaas said. “Staying focused and locked in, and I think that’s a credit to being on a big stage like this in football and being comfortable.”

The Sailors, who won the Division 4 football championship in November, will search for their first basketball Finals title since 2005.

Summit Academy (25-3), which shot 35 percent (16-46) from the field, was playing in its first Semifinal.

“We expected it to be a defensive game and every possession to be tough,” Summit coach Mark White said. “We expected to be challenged to execute and to challenge them to execute.

“We knew it would come down to who executed the best and took advantage of their opportunities. We came to battle, and I’m very proud of our team and our program that we made it this far.”

James White led Summit with 13 points and seven rebounds. Krzesowiak finished with six points and six rebounds.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) South Christian’s Jake Vermaas (0) makes a move toward the basket during his team’s Division 2 Semifinal win. (Middle) Summit’s Dontez Scott Jr. works to get past the Sailors’ Nate Brinks.