By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
One contender at Thursday’s MHSAA Class C and D Semifinals is hoping to finish this weekend with a third straight championship. Another is hoping to begin a three-season winning streak at the Breslin Center.
Two-time reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian returns four starters and a top sub from its 2013 title team. And Detroit Consortium is seeking its first championship – but led by sophomore Joshua Jackson, arguably the state’s top player regardless of class or grade.
Below is the schedule for all four Thursday Semifinals and four Saturday Finals, plus broadcast information and a look at all eight C and D semifinalists. (Class A and B previews and Friday’s schedule will be posted later Thursday.)
Semifinals - Thursday
Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2) vs. Muskegon Heights (20-3), 1 p.m.
Detroit Consortium (23-2) vs. Negaunee (24-1), 2:50 p.m.
Frankfort (20-6) vs. Southfield Christian (24-1), 6 p.m.
Cedarville (23-2) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (20-4), 7:50 p.m.
Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6:30 pm
Class C - 4:30 pm
Class D - 10 am
Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.
And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class C and D.
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 2
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Tobias Tuomi, first season (23-2)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 67-61 over No. 1 Mount Clemens in Quarterfinal, 64-48 over No. 5 Detroit Allen in Regional Semifinal, 72-57 over Class A No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 58-43 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Southeastern, 79-72 over Class A No. 6 Romulus, 87-70 over Class B No. 9 Detroit Country Day, 67-52 over Class B honorable mention Detroit Douglass.
Players to watch: Joshua Jackson, 6-8 soph. G/F (25 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.9 spg, 3.7 bpg); Ronald Booth, 5-9 sr. G (12.1 ppg, 8.2 apg, 3.2 spg).
Outlook: Consortium has beaten a schedule loaded with top teams from Classes A, B and C, similar to how Johnson loads up a stat sheet in every category – he also had 30 3-pointers entering the week making 46 percent of those attempts and 70 percent from the field as a whole. Two more guards, senior Rudy Smith (9.7) and sophomore Luster Johnson (10.5), add to the potent offense.
Record/rank: 20-3, No. 9
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Dalrecus Stewart, second season (39-8)
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 1979) eight runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-57 over honorable mention Hillsdale in Quarterfinal, 72-59 over Saugatuck in District opener, 67-66 over Benton Harbor, 92-52 over Class D No. 7 Baldwin.
Players to watch: Eddrick Tornes, 6-1 sr. G (12 ppg); Aaron Sydnor, 6-3 sr. G/F (10.6 ppg).
Outlook: Muskegon Heights’ return to Breslin comes after it finished Class B runner-up in 2011, closed in spring 2012 and reopened that fall as a public school academy. The Tigers have one of the longest traditions of success in MHSAA history, with their first championship game appearance in 1939. Their losses this season are as notable as their best wins: by only one to No. 6 Shelby, just four to Class A Rockford and 12 to Class A Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills.
Record/rank: 22-2, No. 10
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Luke Pohl, 17th season (312-75)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1993.
Best wins: 42-41 over Flint Beecher in Quarterfinal, 59-55 over No. 6 Shelby in Regional Final, 57-46 over honorable mention Hillsdale, 66-19 over Class D honorable mention Fulton.
Players to watch: Lane Smith, 6-5 sr. C (11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Nick Spitzley, 6-2 sr. G (18.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Outlook: This run has been a career quest for a group of nine seniors, including five who start. The Pirates have won four straight league titles and Regional championships two of the last three seasons. Spitzley is a four-year standout and one of the top scorers in school history – he also had 61 3-pointers entering the week. As a team, P-W has shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor, with six players drilling at least 10 3-pointers. They are a combined five points from perfection, falling only to Detroit Loyola by two in the third game this season and Fulton by three before avenging with a 47-point win over the Pirates.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Michael O’Donnell, ninth season (173-47)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently 2000), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 63-42 over honorable mention East Jordan in Quarterfinal, 64-48 over Ishpeming in District Final, 61-55 over Class A honorable mention Marquette.
Players to watch: Tyler Jandron, 6-1 sr. G (17.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.3 spg); Eric Lori, 5-10 sr. G (16.6 ppg, 3.6 apg).
Outlook: Negaunee was played closer by a lot of its opponents compared to during last season’s run to the Breslin, but the results were the same. The Miners have rattled off 21 straight wins since falling to Marquette and beat the Redmen along the way. Jandron and Lori are back as the team’s top-two leading scorers and with junior Robert Loy make up a strong three-guard backcourt. Total the trio had combined for 92 3-pointers heading into this week.
ADRIAN LENAWEE CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 20-4, honorable mention
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Scott McKelvey, second season (39-8)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 56-51 OT over No. 5 Battle Creek St. Philip in Quarterfinal, 44-42 over Morenci in District Final, 46-44 over Class B honorable mention Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
Player to watch: Grant Holbein, 6-2 sr. G (11.1 ppg).
Outlook: Lenawee Christian avenged its lone loss to a Class D team, Morenci, with a close win in the District Final, and has taken a few more steps after finishing 19-4 and as Regional runner-up in 2012-13. The Cougars’ other losses this season were to Class B No. 1 Jackson Lumen Christi, Class C No. 5 Detroit Allen and Class C honorable mention Addison.
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 6
League finish: First in Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference
Coach: Dave Duncan, 24th season (404-168)
Championship history: Class D champion 2007, three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 60-53 over honorable mention Frankfort, 63-57 over No. 8 Hillman in Regional Final, 81-79 over No. 2 Powers North Central in Quarterfinal.
Player to watch: Joey Duncan, 6-0 jr. G (21 ppg).
Outlook: Cedarville is plenty familiar with the season’s final week having won Regional titles eight of the last nine seasons, but is back at the Semifinals for the first time since finishing Class D runner-up in 2009. Joey Duncan was named all-state Tuesday and leads a squad with only three seniors. The Trojans scored at least 80 points in 11 games.
Record/rank: 20-6, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Northwest Conference
Coach: Reggie Manville, third season (41-23)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 47-44 over honorable mention Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 75-71 over No. 7 Baldwin, 47-45 over Class C honorable mention Traverse City St. Francis.
Players to watch: David Loney, 6-3 jr. C (20.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg); Brandon Schaub, 5-10 sr. G (9.5 ppg, 2.3 apg).
Outlook: Frankfort played in its second straight Quarterfinal on Tuesday and advanced to its first Semifinal since 1969. The Panthers got that chance in part because they were able to get past Suttons Bay, which beat Frankfort twice during the regular season to finish on top of the Northwest Conference. Loney was named all-state Tuesday and keys an offense that is otherwise balanced, with six more players averaging 4-6 ppg. Manville formerly coached at Flint Southwestern for 14 seasons and then Big Rapids for one during the 1980s and 90s.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Clennie Brundidge, first season (24-1)
Championship history: MHSAA champion 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 61-44 over No. 4 Peck in Quarterfinal, 54-51, 68-56 and 67-62 (Regional Final) over No. 9 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, 75-62 and 66-47 over Auburn Hills Oakland Christian.
Players to watch: Bakari Evelyn, 6-1 jr. G (16 ppg, 4.6 apg); Lindsey Hunter IV, 5-10 sr. G (14.8 ppg); Damarco White, 6-6 sr. F (8.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Eugene Brown, 6-5 soph. G (11.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian is playing for its third straight MHSAA title, this time under promoted assistant Brundidge – who also has coached at Southfield and Troy. Hunter and White were named all-state and Brown received an honorable mention, and Evelyn joined Brown, White and junior guard Kameron Garner among starters in last season’s Final. The only loss this winter came to Class A No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill.
PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia's Nick Spitzley (right) matches up with Aquavius Burks during the Pirates' comeback win over reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher in Tuesday's Quarterfinal. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)