Breslin Bound: District Preview
March 5, 2018
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Beginning tonight, 128 boys basketball District titles are up for grabs across our state.
Of course, some teams are favored – and we’ve told you about many of them over the last three months. But if we learn anything from year to year, it’s that we should expect plenty of the unexpected over the next three weeks.
Over the next two, we’ll alter the format of our Breslin Bound reports – powered by MI Student Aid – still looking at some of the key results from last week but also at three of the most eye-catching brackets in each class for the upcoming week of playoffs.
This week, that means we’ll take closer looks at 12 Districts total in addition to scores from last week that saw some of the state’s best match up one more time before single elimination games begin. (Click here to navigate brackets for all 128 tournaments.)
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 68, Detroit Edison 63 – The Operation Friendship headliner went to the Detroit Catholic League A-B champ, but Class C and Public School League champ Edison could be tough to beat this month after playing much larger opponents all season.
2. Holland West Ottawa 59, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 49 – These two are expected to be among contenders this month in Class A and B, respectively; they finished the regular season a combined 35-4.
3. Clarkston 48, Hazel Park 38 – The Wolves played without injured star guard Foster Loyer and still won the Oakland Activities Association Red title outright by finishing a sweep of the second-place Vikings.
4. New Haven 81, Flint Beecher 70 – The reigning Class B champ downing the reigning Class C champ didn’t shock, but Beecher giving New Haven its second-closest game this season could be a sign the Buccaneers are rising as the tournament approaches.
5. Manton 75, Buckley 62 – These two are hoping to make return to trips to the Breslin Center in Class C and D, respectively, and got a nice tune-up with this late February rematch after Manton won the first meeting 62-60 on Jan. 20.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Ann Arbor Skyline
Ann Arbor Huron (15-5), Ann Arbor Pioneer (11-9), Ann Arbor Skyline (19-0), Dexter (13-6), Pinckney (7-13), Romulus (12-7).
Skyline won the Southeastern Conference Red title for the second straight season but took another step into the elite with nonleague wins over Belleville, Detroit Pershing and Wayne Memorial among others. Huron is an intriguing District Final opponent; the River Rats lost to Skyline twice but cut the margin in half from the first meeting in losing 58-49 on Feb. 12. Romulus, which finished second to Belleville in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue, always seems to shine at tournament time and shouldn’t be forgotten despite closing the regular season with five straight defeats including a big one to the Eagles.
Berkley (10-10), Detroit Renaissance (13-7), Detroit U- D Jesuit (17-3), Hazel Park (18-2), Oak Park (18-2), Warren Fitzgerald (12-5).
Six teams from six leagues make up this District, with U-D Jesuit the champion of the Detroit Catholic League Central and Oak Park the champ of the Oakland Activities Association White. Hazel Park finished second in the OAA Red with both losses to reigning Class A champion Clarkston, while Renaissance and Fitzgerald also were contenders in their leagues and Berkley started this season 10-1 before a difficult second half set in. Jesuit has won eight straight, but Hazel Park took a win from the Cubs 74-63 on Dec. 15.
Alpena (9-10), Gaylord (11-9), Marquette (14-5), Petoskey (18-2), Traverse City Central (12-8), Traverse City West (12-7).
This District also features multiple league champions – Marquette from the Great Northern Conference and Petoskey from the Big North Conference. Those two met in the first game of this season, with Petoskey winning 55-38, but we could find out how much has changed over three months if they meet Friday. The Northmen have statewide aspirations, and their only losses were at Grand Haven 56-39 on Dec. 29 and 43-38 to league runner-up Cadillac (13-7) on Feb. 6. West advanced to the Regional Final last season.
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
Algonac (1-18), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (18-2), Macomb Lutheran North (6-14), New Haven (20-0), Pontiac (5-14), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (11-9).
Reigning Class B champion New Haven would be a District favorite regardless of bracket, riding a 46-game winning streak and with only one opponent coming closer than 11 points this winter. But Cranbrook is an intriguing possible opponent in the District Final. The Cranes are coming off one of their two defeats, to Macomb Area Conference Bronze champion Madison Heights Madison, but won both the Catholic League Intersectional #1 and the C-D tournament title to highlight their best season this decade.
Remus Chippewa Hills
Alma (15-5), Big Rapids (15-5), Clare (17-3), Remus Chippewa Hills (6-14), Shepherd (6-14), Stanton Central Montcalm (7-13).
A pair of league champions meet in an opener tonight – Alma shared the Tri-Valley Conference Central, and Big Rapids shared the Central State Activities Association Gold title. The Cardinals fell in their opener a year ago, to eventual Class B runner-up Ludington, but are only two years removed from a Semifinal run. Awaiting on the other side of this bracket Friday could be Clare, which finished second in the Jack Pine Conference but is riding an eight-game winning streak and won a District title last year.
Grand Rapids South Christian (13-7), Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy (13-7), Kentwood Grand River Prep (9-9), Wyoming Godwin Heights (19-1), Wyoming Kelloggsville (17-3), Wyoming Lee (4-16).
Godwin Heights would be considered a New Haven-level slam dunk in just about any District as well, with its only loss Dec. 29 to Class A Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (18-2). But there are some dangerous games here. On the other side of the bracket, Kelloggsville was the runner-up to Godwin Heights in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver, but cut the margin from 29 to 12 when the teams met a second time Feb. 6. Kelloggsville must be careful tonight with the Sailors, who played mostly Class A teams in their league. Also notable, Aviation Academy finished third in the Alliance League and has improved three wins this season.
Burton Atherton (13-6), Burton Bendle (11-9), Burton Bentley (15-5), Flint Beecher (12-8), Flint Hamady (13-5), Montrose (10-10).
Beecher has won three straight Class C championships and five of the last six, and the Buccaneers’ record this season again requires context because five of those losses came to Class A contenders and two came to Class B powers including New Haven. The other loss, however, came to Hamady 77-71 on Feb. 2, and the rivals shared the Genesee Area Conference Red title. Likewise, Atherton and Bendle shared the GAC White title, and Bentley shared the GAC Blue championship – its first league title in 41 years. Hamady would have to beat Bendle and Bentley to reach Friday’s District Final, while Beecher takes on Montrose tonight and then would see Atherton.
Holton (6-14), Kent City (20-0), Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (12-8), North Muskegon (17-3), Ravenna (11-9).
A pair of league champions could face each other for this District title as well – Kent City won the CSAA Silver, and on the other side of the bracket is West Michigan Conference champ North Muskegon. But both should be cautious of Lake Michigan Conference runner-up Western Michigan Christian. The Warriors finished second in that league to reigning Class B runner-up Ludington and face Kent City on Wednesday. They also own a 46-40 win over North Muskegon from Dec. 22.
Maple City Glen Lake
Grand Traverse Academy (12-7), Manton (17-3), Maple City Glen Lake (18-2), Traverse City St. Francis (15-5).
Manton shared the Highland Conference title, Glen Lake shared the championship in the Northwest Conference and St. Francis won the Lake Michigan Conference outright. Grand Traverse also was in a title mix before finishing runner-up in the Cherryland Conference. There is some familiarity despite the different leagues, of course. Glen Lake beat St. Francis 49-40 on Jan. 20, and Manton – which went on to make the Class C Semifinals – beat Glen Lake in the Regional last year after Glen Lake beat St. Francis for the District title.
Athens (16-4), Battle Creek Calhoun Christian (12-8), Battle Creek St. Philip (10-9), Bellevue (19-1), Marshall Academy (16-2).
Bellevue and Athens finished first and second in the Southern Central Athletic Association West, respectively, and are on opposite sides of the bracket. Bellevue has won five straight District titles and posted two big wins on Athens during the regular season. The Indians will be part of an intriguing District Semifinal on Wednesday regardless of which team wins tonight’s opener. St. Philip finished third in the SCAA West and beat Athens 52-51 on Feb. 16, while Marshall Academy won the Mid-South Conference title.
Bear Lake (17-3), Brethren (8-12), Buckley (15-5), Fife Lake Forest Area (10-10), Mesick (3-17)
Buckley features three 1,000-point career scorers who experienced last season’s Class D runner-up finish, and the Bears have won 12 of their last 14 to keep a share of the Northwest Conference title against some of the best Class C/D competition in the state this winter. But they could meet a Bear Lake team in the District Semifinal that won its first league title since 2008 and also includes a 1,000-point scorer in Kaiden Hejl.
Bark River-Harris (12-7), Carney-Nadeau (13-7), Felch North Dickinson (2-18), Powers North Central (16-4), Stephenson (6-14).
This season saw three-time reigning Class D champ North Central’s record 84-game winning streak end. It also saw the rebuilt Jets win the Skyline Central Conference small-school division title, and they head into this week on a seven-game winning streak that has included victories over large-school champion Munising (17-3) and runner-up Bark River-Harris. North Central and Bark River-Harris could meet again Wednesday; Carney-Nadeau finished third to the Jets in league play and could await on the other side.
PHOTO: Baldwin and Beal City players work to gain possession during the Aggies’ 55-54 win Jan. 16. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Quarterfinal Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 21, 2023
It finally feels like spring, at least here in East Lansing. And tonight, 32 teams will attempt to build into their spring breaks a trip to Breslin Center.
Below is a glance at all 16 of tonight’s Quarterfinals across four divisions, with all games tipping off at 7 p.m. unless noted. Winners advance to Thursday and Friday’s Semifinals, and we’ll detail the teams more then as we preview those concluding rounds of this year’s tournament.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid.
Ann Arbor Huron (23-2) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (25-1) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5:30 p.m.
After an early postseason exit last season, 2021 Division 1 runner-up Huron has put together another deep playoff run. Sophomore guard Macari Moore leads three players averaging double-digit scoring at 17 points per game. After winning its first Regional title last season since 1998, Cass Tech is back at the Quarterfinals for a second straight March. Darius Acuff is another super sophomore, also leading three double-digit scorers at 21.6 ppg to go with 5.8 assists per contest.
Grand Blanc (24-2) vs. Rochester Adams (17-8) at Lake Orion
Last season’s runner-up is two wins away from playing for another title, but this time the Bobcats are led by first-year coach Tory Jackson. Seniors Tae Boyd (15.4 ppg) and RJ Taylor (14.3) are a strong 1-2 punch. Adams is coming off its first Regional title in this sport, with junior 6-foot-7 football standout Brady Prieskorn among top contributors for a Highlanders hoops team that has won seven of its last nine games.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (14-10) vs. Warren De La Salle (17-8) at University of Detroit Mercy
These Detroit Catholic League Central rivals will meet for the third time, with St. Mary’s winning the first matchup by 17 on Jan. 10 and the reigning Division 1 champion Pilots taking the rematch by 12 on Jan. 31. Sophomore Trey McKenney is a force at 25.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for the Eaglets, while Phoenix Glassnor is another sophomore standout leading De La Salle at 18.4 ppg.
Muskegon (24-2) vs. East Lansing (16-9) at Caledonia
East Lansing has won six straight and 12 of its last 14 games, with three of those wins over opponents responsible for four of their losses this winter. Only one starter is a senior, and sophomore Cameron Hutson leads the way at 19.3 ppg. Muskegon is in the midst of a ninth 20-win season over the last decade and earned its first Regional title since 2015. Senior Jordan Briggs (18.7 ppg) has qualified for the MHSAA single-season record list with 84 3-pointers, connecting on nearly 40 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.
Cadillac (22-4) vs. Saginaw (20-6) at Alma
The Trojans are seeking their first Semifinal appearance since 2013 and have lost only to Division 1 opponents this season, with guard Javarie Holliday leading a mostly senior-powered lineup at 15.8 ppg. Cadillac also won its Regional last season and is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 2015, with 6-6 junior Charlie Howell the leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.4 rpg).
Ferndale (18-8) vs. Goodrich (22-4) at Lake Orion, 5:30 p.m.
The Eagles are working to reach Breslin and the Semifinals for a third-straight season and have won 13 of their last 14 games while navigating a power-packed schedule again this winter. Senior Chris Williams leads a balanced lineup at 13.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Goodrich is a combined 93-20 over the last five seasons and playing to make the Semifinals for the first time with senior Jack Locey (18.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 45 3-pointers) among those filling the stat sheet.
Hudsonville Unity Christian (18-9) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (23-3) at Calvin University
These rivals will be filling Calvin for a rematch after South Christian won the regular-season meeting 58-50 on Dec. 16. The bad news for the Sailors is they lost leading scorer Carson Vis (17.7 ppg) to injury in the Regional Final, but senior Jacob DeHaan (13 ppg) leads three others averaging at least 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Unity has won 11 of its last 12 games, with two-point upsets of Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Grand Rapids Christian along the way. Juniors Trayton Fisher and Colin Neiuwenhuis both average about 11.5 points per game and have combined for 97 3-pointers.
Chelsea (21-5) vs. Romulus Summit Academy (24-2) at Milan
These are two more teams looking to reach the Semifinals for the first time, Summit having played in a Quarterfinal as recently as 2021 and Chelsea’s last trip to the season’s final week in 2000. Juniors Jacob Stephens (22.7 ppg) and Joseph Cabana (22.2) set a strong pace for the Bulldogs. The Dragons have doubled up all four of their postseason opponents so far and done the same in 16 wins total this winter.
Detroit Loyola (25-1) vs. Flint Beecher (21-4) at Waterford Mott
A 67-58 loss to Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 29 remains the only defeat on Loyola’s list this winter. All five starters are seniors, with Dashawn Martin (15.1 ppg) leading three averaging double-figure scoring. Beecher’s losses were to Division 1 and 2 opponents, including three playing tonight. Robert Lee leads a senior-dominated lineup at 24.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game as the Bucs attempt to make the Semifinals for a third-straight season.
Laingsburg (25-0) vs. Ecorse (19-4) at Ypsilanti Lincoln
The Wolfpack’s closest game this season was seven points, its Regional Semifinal win against Jonesville, as it attempts to reach Breslin for the first time since 2013. Junior Zander Woodruff is averaging more than a point per minute of playing time, leading at 24.4 ppg. Ecorse is seeking a return trip to the Semifinals and has won 17 of its last 18 games. Senior guard Malik Olafioye also is putting the finishing touches on a high-scoring career.
St. Ignace (22-4) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (22-4) at Gaylord
St. Ignace is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 2001, seeking to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 1983. Junior Jonny Ingalls (22.4 ppg) leads three Saints averaging at least 13, plus he’s dishing 5.4 assists per game. St. Francis has won 11 of its last 12 games with that lone loss to Cadillac (see above) in overtime in the regular-season finale. Senior Wyatt Nausadis has paced the scoring at 20.1 ppg after quarterbacking the football team to a Division 7 runner-up finish in the fall.
Pewamo-Westphalia (19-6) vs. Niles Brandywine (24-2) at Portage Central
Brandywine has reached the final week for the first time with its first Regional title, and its only losses this season remain against Division 2 Benton Harbor. Junior Jaremiah Palmer leads a lineup with four players averaging at least 9.7 ppg at 12.9 per game. P-W is making its second-straight Quarterfinal appearance after edging North Muskegon by three and then Grandville Calvin Christian by two last week. Senior Jamison Eklund is averaging 22.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Painesdale Jeffers (25-1) vs. Munising (24-1) at Negaunee
The Upper Peninsula is guaranteed to send a one-loss team downstate to the Division 4 Semifinals, and for both programs it would be a first-time trip. Jeffers is playing its first Quarterfinal, and Munising its first since 1954. Junior Levi Frahm leads four Jets scoring in double digits at 20.5 ppg, while senior Kane Nebel is surrounded by a similar balanced attack and leads four double-digit scorers at 15.8 ppg.
Taylor Trillium Academy (21-3) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (15-11) at West Bloomfield
Trillium is another first-time Regional champion, taking this step after falling just a four-point loss shy of reaching the Quarterfinals a year ago. Senior DaMaryon Fishburn is averaging 22.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Wildcats, and junior Keymarryon Fishburn adds 15.3 ppg. Cardinal Mooney has won seven of its last nine games to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2016 and after falling in Regional Finals the last two seasons – avenging the 2022 loss to Genesee Christian to advance. Senior Trent Rice leads three double-digit scorers at 12.9 ppg.
Frankfort (17-8) vs. Hillman (22-4) at Gaylord, 5 p.m.
Frankfort is another team on a nice streak with eight wins over its last nine games including 50-44 over 2022 semifinalist Lake Leelanau St. Mary in last week’s Regional Final. Senior Emmerson Farmer and sophomore Carter Kerby supply the backcourt with between 10-11 ppg apiece. This will be Hillman’s fourth Quarterfinal over the last nine seasons as the Tigers seek their first Semifinal trip. Trenton Taratuta is a big-time scorer averaging 27.4 ppg with 60 3-pointers but also 9.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.2 steals per game.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (20-6) vs. Kalamazoo Phoenix (17-2) at Richland Gull Lake
This is a familiar spot for Tri-unity Christian, the reigning Division 4 champion. All five starters average between 6-13 ppg and four have high games of at least 20 points this season; senior Roy Fogg tops both lists at 13 ppg and 25, respectively. This is new territory for Phoenix, which won one game just two seasons ago but has won 10 in a row heading into this week. Senior Cameron Lewis-Atkins (19.9 ppg) leads five players averaging 11 or more points per game. Phoenix avenged one of its losses, to Eau Claire, in the Regional Semifinal.
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PHOTOS (Top) A fan holds up a sign supporting Painesdale Jeffers between the third and fourth quarters of last week’s Regional Final win over Stephenson. (Middle) Tri-unity Christian’s Roy Fogg pulls in a loose ball during his team’s Regional championship victory over Lansing Christian. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)