By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The final week of the 2015-16 boys basketball season finds five undefeated teams among the 32 set to play Quarterfinals on Tuesday.
And they're joined by a number of others playing in this final week for the first time, or at least the first time in a long time.
See below for a glance at all 16 Quarterfinals and come back to Second Half all week for team-by-team previews of the semifinalists and coverage of all 12 games plus video highlights from the Breslin Center this weekend.
All games Tuesday tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Ypsilanti Community (22-1) vs. Detroit U-D Jesuit (25-0) at University of Detroit Mercy (5 p.m.)
This might be the spotlight game statewide on this night with a pair of elite seniors facing off – recently-crowned Mr. Basketball Cassius Winston of U-D Jesuit and award finalist Corey Allen of Ypsilanti Community. Allen is averaging just above 23 points per game, while Winston leads the Cubs with 21.2 and 7.2 assists per game.
Macomb Dakota (25-0) vs. Midland (17-6) at Grand Blanc
Both programs will take significant strides just by stepping on the floor. Dakota, long seen as a Class A contender this winter, will play in its first Quarterfinal, while surprise Midland will make its first appearance since 1979. Junior Jermaine Jackson paces the Cougars at 21 points per game, while senior Payton DeWildt scores 16.7 to lead the Chemics.
North Farmington (22-2) vs. Sterling Heights Stevenson (20-3) at University of Detroit Mercy
North Farmington also is making its first Quarterfinal appearance, also led by a standout guard, senior Billy Thomas at 21 points per game. Stevenson is back in the final week for the first time since 1983, led by a trio of seniors averaging between 11-13 ppg: Mylon Weathers, Vince Ramaci and Luke Lamoreaux.
Lansing Everett (15-10) vs. Hudsonville (19-5) at Lansing Eastern
This Quarterfinal pits two of the biggest upset producers of the Regional Finals – Lansing Everett, which downed undefeated East Lansing after falling to the Trojans twice during the regular season, and Hudsonville, which upended annual power Muskegon. Both are anchored by senior guards, the Eagles by 6-foot-5 Riley Costen (17 ppg) and the Vikings by 6-3 Jamyrin Jackson (16.8 ppg).
Detroit Henry Ford (17-6) vs. New Haven (22-2) at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore
Last season’s Class B runner-up, Ford has won 12 of its last 14 games with senior guard James Towns leading the way at 23 points and 5.7 assists per game. New Haven lost to Ford 61-55 in a Quarterfinal a year ago but has a difficult trio to stop in 6-11 senior Innocent Nwoko (10.6 ppg, 10 rpg), 6-4 junior Eric Williams, Jr. (17.5 ppg), and 6-6 freshman Romeo Weems (15.5 ppg, 10.8 ppg, 4.6 apg).
Williamston (20-3) vs. River Rouge (22-3) at Charlotte
Williamston is playing with one of the state’s leading scorers in senior guard Riley Lewis (28.6 ppg) and some added inspiration after coach Jason Bauer left the team recently to undergo cancer treatments. River Rouge has one of the most storied programs in MHSAA history and is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 1999 and follow up the football team’s runner-up finish in the fall.
Essexville Garber (17-8) vs. Big Rapids (22-2) at Bay City Central
Garber has won Regional titles both seasons under second-year coach Chris Watz, who took over after two seasons as an assistant at Olivet College. Junior forward Demetri Martin (19.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg) leads a Big Rapids team that has won Regional titles three of the last four seasons.
Stevensville Lakeshore (18-7) vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian (16-8) at Vicksburg
Lakeshore is back in its first Quarterfinal since 2013 led by 6-11 senior center Braden Burke, who averages 15.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Unity Christian is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 2008, also keyed by a post player, 6-4 senior forward Mitchel Takens (15.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Kalamazoo Hackett (24-0) vs. Grandville Calvin Christian (19-4) at Bangor
Hackett has rarely been tested with only two games in single digits on the way to its first Quarterfinal since 1969. Senior guard Dane Preston leads a solid group of scorers at 18.6 ppg. Calvin Christian is making its deepest run since 2010 and can top 20 wins for the fourth time in eight seasons if senior Tony DeWitte (18.2) and teammates can lock up one more.
McBain (25-0) vs. Ishpeming Westwood (12-12) at Petoskey
McBain has had a number of fantastic runs under 22-year coach Bruce Koopman, but none that’s seen the Ramblers undefeated this late. Craig Sterk, Cole Powell and Logan Eling all score between 14-15 points per game. Westwood’s surprise run has it playing its first Quarterfinal since 2003 while riding the hot hands of an all-senior lineup.
Flint Beecher (22-2) vs. Ithaca (23-2) at Troy Athens
Reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher is playing for its fourth championship in five seasons and riding a 16-game winning streak. Ithaca, meanwhile, is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 1956 – but won’t be intimidated led in part by three starters who played prominent roles on the Division 6 championship football team.
Hanover-Horton (23-2) vs. Detroit Loyola (20-5) at Tecumseh
Hanover-Horton has won 15 straight District titles and returned to the Quarterfinals last season, advancing all the way to a Semifinal against Beecher. Loyola is known much more for football as a regular finalist at Ford Field, but will make its first Quarterfinal appearance in hoops after downing 18-win Detroit Allen Academy and Riverview Gabriel Richard and 21-win Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central along the way.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (19-5) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (17-7) at Coldwater
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian has been a near-regular during the final week, but is seeking to advance to the Semifinals for the first time since 2013. Senior guard Willie Otole leads at 15.1 ppg. After finishing Class D runner-up in 2014, Lenawee Christian fell to .500 last winter, but is back in contention led by sophomore 3-point ace Trey Helinski (14 ppg).
Waterford Our Lady (20-4) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (17-7) at West Bloomfield
Our Lady brings back three starters this week from the team that missed the Class D Final a year ago by a point – including senior guard Andrew Kline (18.5 ppg). Cardinal Mooney will make its second Quarterfinal appearance and first since 2010, led by sophomore guard Daniel Everhart at 17.2 ppg.
Fulton (18-6) vs. Bellaire (24-1) at Traverse City West, 6 p.m.
The Pirates will play in their second straight Quarterfinal and are led by senior guard Colton Antes, who is set the graduate as one of the top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history. Bellaire’s only loss this season was to eventual 20-win Class C East Jordan. The Eagles start four seniors and rely on three more off the bench.
Onaway (21-4) vs. Powers North Central (25-0) at Sault Ste. Marie
Onaway has put together an impressive rise, adding to its win total the last five seasons under coach Eddy Szymoniak after the team went 1-20 in 2011 in his debut. The Cardinals could add their biggest highlight yet by taking down reigning champion North Central, which hasn’t lost since 2015.
PHOTO: Ypsilanti Community takes on Macomb Dakota in one of the state's most anticipated Quarterfinals on Tuesday. (Photo by Betsy Howell.)
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.
MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
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.)