By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Regardless of which team emerges as Class C champion Saturday, that crowning moment will conclude quite a story.
At the very least, the winner could be celebrating a first MHSAA boys basketball title in more than two decades.
Detroit Edison and Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central both are seeking not just their first MHSAA titles in boys basketball this weekend, but to play in the championship game for the first time.
Grand Rapids Covenant Christian, meanwhile, was runner-up last season at the Breslin Center but hasn’t won a title since 1994. Maple City Glen Lake, if it wins out, would claim its first since 1977.
Class C Semifinals – Thursday
Detroit Edison (15-10) vs. Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (22-4), noon
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (25-0) vs. Maple City Glen Lake (23-2), 2 p.m.
Class C Final – Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class C and Class B). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. The Class D, A and C championship games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, while the Class B Final will be shown on Fox Sports Detroit on a delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. All four championship games will be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.
Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)
Record/rank: 15-10, honorable mention
League finish: Fourth in Detroit Public School League East Division 1
Coach: Brandon Neely, fifth season (69-44)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 73-46 over No. 3 Unionville-Sebewaing in Quarterfinal, 63-57 (Regional Semifinal) and 82-45 over Detroit Pershing, 59-51 over Class A honorable mention Detroit Cass Tech, 50-48 over Class A honorable mention Detroit Renaissance, 65-48 over Class A honorable mention Belleville, 83-67 over Class D No. 1 Southfield Christian.
Players to watch: Pierre Mitchell, Jr., 6-0 sr. G (15.3 ppg, 3.2 apg); Gary Solomon, 6-5 sr. G (16.2 ppg, 3.3 apg).
Outlook: Edison is making a second straight trip to the Semifinals after winning its second Regional title last week and this season also winning the Detroit Public School League tournament. The team’s record might look just slightly above average, but eight of those losses were to Class A teams including three team ranked among the top five at the end of the regular season and a fourth that will play in the Semifinals on Friday. Mitchell, Solomon and 6-9 senior Deante Johnson (13.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.2 bpg) also were starters and standouts a year ago.
GRAND RAPIDS COVENANT CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 22-4, honorable mention
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Tyler Schimmel, fourth season (71-25)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1994), Class C runner-up 2017.
Best wins: 53-30 over honorable mention Sanford Meridian in Quarterfinal, 58-48 over honorable mention Dansville in Regional Final, 53-47 over Grand Rapids Christian.
Players to watch: Carson Meulenberg, 6-6 sr. F (15.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.2 apg); Tyler Cammenga, 5-8 sr. G (9.2 ppg, 64 3-pointers).
Outlook: Four starters from last season’s Class C championship game loss to Flint Beecher have brought Covenant Christian back this weekend. Meulenberg earned some attention with 20 points in last year’s Final, and Cammenga entered the last week of the season with 64 3-pointers for the second straight year. Senior 6-3 guard Nathan Minderhoud (10.7 ppg) is the team’s second leading scorer, and senior 6-4 forward Trenton Koole adds 7.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 3.2 apg. All four losses this winter came to Class B teams that finished with at least 17 wins, including semifinalist Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
MAPLE CITY GLEN LAKE
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 5
League finish: Tied for first in Northwest Conference
Coach: Rich Ruelas, third season (56-14)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1977), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 66-49 over No. 4 Iron Mountain in Quarterfinal, 66-32 (Regional Semifinal) and 50-37 over No. 9 McBain, 49-29 over honorable mention Manton in District Semifinal, 54-45 and 52-31 over Class D No. 6 Frankfort.
Players to watch: Xander Okerlund, 6-4 jr. G/F (16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg); Cade Peterson, 6-5 sr. F (14.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.6 bpg).
Outlook: A talented group has Glen Lake at the Semifinals for the first time since finishing Class D runner-up in 1996. The only losses were to league rival Buckley, a semifinalist in Class D. Iron Mountain, falling by 17, came the closest to Glen Lake of any opponent so far this postseason. Some of the same players, including quarterback Peterson and senior starting forward Nick Apsey (a running back/linebacker in the fall), took Glen Lake to the Division 6 Football Final in 2016. Sophomore forward Reece Hazelton adds 13.3 ppg.
MONROE ST. MARY CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 25-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Randy Windham, ninth season (181-37)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 31-28 over No. 6 Kalamazoo Christian in Quarterfinal, 61-56 over honorable mention Hanover-Horton in Regional Final, 56-44 over No. 7 Ottawa Lake Whiteford in District Final.
Players to watch: C.J. Haut, 6-8 sr. F (18.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.9 bpg); Hunter Kegley, 5-9 jr. G (15.2 ppg, 68 3-pointers)
Outlook: Monroe St. Mary has been on the verge of a championship run with four Quarterfinal appearances this decade and a Semifinal berth in 2013. The Falcons fell to Edison in last season’s Quarterfinal, but haven’t lost a game since. In fact, the last two games were two of only four decided by single digits this season. Junior 6-4 forward Tyler Welch adds another 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
PHOTO: Grand Rapids Covenant Christian’s Carson Meulenberg puts up a shot against Flint Beecher during last season’s Class C Final.
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.)