Breslin Bound: Boys District Preview

March 9, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The reigning Class D champion is playing in Class C this season. Last year’s Class A and B champions have only three losses between them. And there are four undefeated teams in Class D – with next week’s Regional the earliest two can meet up.

We’ve got a chance to see some familiar faces for the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals in three weeks, and likely a higher probability of seeing a few teams that have yet to lose this winter. But to determine who makes the trip, a ton of basketball must yet be played – beginning tonight.

To kick off Districts, this week's Breslin Bound report looks at five teams in each class that have made some of the biggest waves throughout this winter. Click to “track the tournament,” with results as we receive them and interactive brackets.

Class A

Clarkston (20-0) – The Wolves equaled last season’s win total by going undefeated during the regular season and now will be charged with surpassing last year’s Regional Final appearance. Clarkston won all but three games by double figures, including over Macomb Dakota (18-2) and Auburn Hills Avondale (17-3) during December and twice over North Farmington and Mr. Basketball candidate Jeron Rogers.

Detroit Western International (19-0)  The Cowboys posted big wins early, including 69-57 over Saginaw Arthur Hill (17-3), then rolled through the Detroit Public School League to win that championship for the first time since 1922. A 58-49 win over Detroit U-D Jesuit (17-3) in last week’s Operation Friendship game further cemented Western as a likely favorite.

East Kentwood (20-0) – The Falcons handed reigning Class A champion Muskegon its only loss, 58-57 on Dec. 30, and also beat a solid Birmingham Brother Rice team in December before storming through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red to win that league title by three games. East Kentwood had finished second in the league and 13-8 overall a year ago.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (20-0) – The Rangers repeated as champions in the O-K White, this season by four games, and own a 59-55 win over O-K Bronze champion Grand Rapids Northview (17-3), which ended Forest Hill Central’s 2013-14 season in the District Final. The Rangers twice beat Grand Rapids Christian, led by Mr. Basketball candidate DeLeon Brown.

Muskegon (19-1) – The Big Reds have more than made up for their first loss (see East Kentwood above) since 2012-13. Muskegon edged Saginaw Arthur Hill by two in mid-December, then beat Romulus (14-5) by 10 in mid-January and River Rouge (15-5) in the regular-season finale – in addition to winning the O-K Black by three games. Center Deyonta Davis is a favorite, perhaps the favorite, for the Mr. Basketball Award.

Class B

Flint Northwestern (15-3) – The Wildcats had a few stumbles through the middle and end of February, but still won the Saginaw Valley Association South by three games, losing only to third-place Flint Powers Catholic, Class A power Arthur Hill and Class C contender Flint Beecher. Northwestern opened this winter with a 10-game winning streak after finishing 6-13 only a season ago.

Milan (18-2) – The reigning Class B champion is revved for another run with 11 straight wins and another Huron League title that included a pair of victories over second-place Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (17-3). Milan's losses were to Class A contenders Romulus and Detroit U-D Jesuit, and all 18 wins came by double-digit points.

New Haven (20-0) – The Rockets launched from 12-9 a year ago to return to a form more similar to their 19-4 team of 2012-13. They won the Macomb Area Conference Gold championship by three games, but the tournament will be an interesting test – New Haven moved up this school year from Class C. A 51-43 win over MAC Blue champion Mount Clemens on Feb. 27, however, is a good sign.

Wayland (17-3) – Although the Wildcats finished behind Class A Ottawa Hills in the O-K Gold standings, they lost only to Class A teams this season – twice to Ottawa Hills and once to Middleville Thornapple Kellogg – and posted a 17-point win on Otsego (17-3). Lacey James is a Mr. Basketball candidate and could carry Wayland far if it can get past Godwin Heights this week.

Wyoming Godwin Heights (19-1) – The Wolverines came back from a January loss to Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian to avenge two weeks later and finish as champion again in the O-K Silver. Godwin Heights is 44-2 over the last two seasons, having fallen in the 2014 Quarterfinals, and looks lined up for another run with February wins against North Farmington (17-3), Otsego and then Grand Rapids Christian on Tuesday.

Class C

Beaverton (20-0) – The Beavers have won at least 20 games three straight seasons and earned the Jack Pine Conference title. They won by fewer than double digits only three times – including twice over league-runner-up Clare (15-5). Beaverton also won a pair over Class D Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (14-5) and by 16 over Vestaburg (17-2).

Flint Beecher (18-1) – The Buccaneers should be back in championship contention after falling by a point in last year’s Quarterfinals. They again won the Genesee Area Conference Red, this time by two games over Class B Goodrich (18-2), and also posted impressive victories over Saginaw (14-6), Flint Northwestern, River Rouge and reigning Class C champion Detroit Consortium (12-5).

Jackson Lumen Christi (18-2) – The Titans should be scary in Class C after making the Regional Finals in Class B last season and then finishing atop an Interstate 8 Athletic Conference filled with larger schools. Lumen Christi won the league title by a game over Class B Battle Creek Harper Creek (18-2) and also owns impressive wins over Hanover-Horton (19-1) and Flint Powers Catholic (14-6).

Hillsdale (20-0) – The Hornets have won at least 20 games four straight seasons and are looking to improve on last year’s Quarterfinal run. Hillsdale capped the regular season with a 53-50 win last week over Vandercook Lake (15-5), opened with a win over Adrian Madison (15-5) and also twice beat Onsted (16-4) to win the Lenawee County Athletic Association championship.

Southfield Christian (17-3) – The back-to-back-to-back Class D champion is up a class and continued to play a number of larger opponents, losing to North Farmington and Detroit Pershing during the season’s first two weeks. The Eagles came back to win the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue with a pair of victories over rival Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (16-4).

Class D

Cedarville (20-0) – The Trojans haven’t slowed a bit since reaching last season’s Semifinals, cruising to another Eastern U.P. Athletic Conference championship while reaching 20 wins for the third straight season. Cedarville fit in a couple of downstate opponents in early January and beat Boyne City (15-5) last week, to go with domination of its local opponents including a 100-86 win in mid-February over Rudyard (15-5).

Hillman (19-1) – The Tigers just edged Lawrence as the only non-undefeated team on this list after winning the North Star League Big Dipper with a pair of wins over Mio (17-2). Hillman also put up a 10-point nonleague win early over Rudyard (15-5) and hasn’t lost since falling to Cedarville on opening night – after also losing to Cedarville in last season’s Regional Final.

Lake Linden-Hubbell (20-0) – The Lakes have climbed from three to 16 to 19 to 20 wins over the last four seasons. They won the Copper Country Conference title by two games over runner-up Republic-Michigamme (16-4). Lake Linden-Hubbell won all but one of its games by double digits.

Powers North Central (20-0) – The high-scoring Jets have shined again, putting up more than 90 points twice and more than 80 five more times. They dominated the Skyline Central Conference West with a pair of wins over Crystal Falls Forest Park (16-4) and earned another over SCC East champ Munising (18-1). North Central is 45-1 over the last two seasons, with the only loss to Cedarville in last year’s Quarterfinal.

Waterford Our Lady (20-0) – The Lakers also have made great strides, from 11 to 12 to 17 to 20 wins over the last four seasons. They won the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #1 title by four games and added to an impressive run with wins over Southfield Bradford (14-6), Harbor Beach (15-4) and Burton St. Thomas More Academy (15-2). 

PHOTO: Muskegon's Deyonta Davis (21) goes for a blocked shot during a January game against Saginaw Arthur Hill. (Click to see more at

Beecher Earns Opportunity to 'Complete the Task' with Semifinal Win

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 23, 2023

EAST LANSING — Flint Beecher and Ecorse entered their Division 3 Semifinal on Thursday with at least one common thread of motivation. 

Both lost in last year’s Semifinals, so both the Buccaneers and Raiders were looking to leave Breslin Center with some vindication. 

Ultimately, Beecher was the team that did so, earning a 64-54 win over Ecorse and advancing to its seventh championship game since 2012.

Senior guard Robert Lee and senior forward Kevin Tiggs both scored 17 points to lead the way for Beecher (23-4). 

“We’re not satisfied with this,” Beecher head coach Marquise Gray said. “This is just one part of completing the task.” 

The difference in the game turned out to be that Beecher simply had more depth, which eventually wore down Ecorse. 

Beecher featured an eight-player rotation, while Ecorse, with the exception of one substitution late in the third quarter, played its starters throughout until the game got away late. 

“We figured we would wear them down,” Gray said. “Looking at their bench, we saw that they didn’t have a deep bench. But the focus, energy and effort was on us, and us executing defensively and offensively.”

The Bucs’ Kevin Tiggs Jr. (1) pulls in a rebound while Ecorse’s Deontae Jude (11) also grabs for the ball.A big reason why Ecorse was short-handed was because one of its best players, senior Kenneth Morrast, was out after suffering a broken wrist in a Regional Final. 

Ecorse head coach Gerrod Abram said he believes his team would have won this weekend’s championship if his squad was at full strength, but also heaped praise on Beecher and its playmakers. 

Abram said before Morrast’s injury, his squad didn’t play any zone all year. But after he was injured, Abram said his team had to adjust on the fly and start playing a zone defense that he didn’t want to employ, but had to in order to keep players out of foul trouble. 

Senior Malik Olafioye scored 22 points, and sophomore point guard Darrien Reddick scored 14 to lead Ecorse (20-5). 

“Extremely proud of the effort we put out,” Abram said. “We knew it was going to be a big task with the way they play. We gave everything that we had. We just ran out of gas at the end.”

Beecher took a 40-34 lead into the fourth quarter, but Ecorse scored the first five points of the fourth to cut Beecher’s lead to one with 6:10 remaining in the game. 

The Buccaneers answered, going on a 9-0 run to grab a 49-39 lead with 4:30 left. 

Ecorse closed to within seven at 51-44 with 3:37 remaining following a 3-pointer by Reddick, but Beecher responded with four straight points to take a 55-44 lead with 2:42 remaining. 

Beecher ultimately punctuated the win on a flying dunk by Lee with 1:09 remaining. Lee was also fouled on the dunk, and he made the free throw for a three-point play to give Beecher a 60-48 lead. 

“What I really focused on was just trying to get my teammates involved,” Lee said. “Not try to force shots. Just let the game come to me.” 

Now, Beecher will turn its focus to reclaiming its status as the best in the state.

“That’s something we have talked about, remembering the feeling that we had last year when we didn’t complete the job,” Gray said. “Guys have been taking it to heart. It’s not a rite. You have to earn your way here. It’s not a given.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Flint Beecher’s Robert Lee Jr. (22) sends a pass into the post during Thursday’s Semifinal win over Ecorse. (Middle) The Bucs’ Kevin Tiggs Jr. (1) pulls in a rebound while Ecorse’s Deontae Jude (11) also grabs for the ball.