High 5s: 3/27/2012

March 27, 2012

Every Tuesday, Second Half honors 2-4 athletes and a team for its accomplishments.

Have a suggestion for a future High 5? Please offer it by e-mail to Geoff@mhsaa.com. Candidates often will have accomplished great things on the field of play -- but also will be recognized for less obvious contributions to their teams, schools or the mission of high school athletics.

Monte Morris

Flint Beecher junior

Basketball

Morris, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in both his Class C Semifinal and the championship game and had a combined 13 assists over both in helping Beecher to its first MHSAA title Saturday since 1987. Beecher beat reigning champion Schoolcraft 65-45 in a Semifinal on Thursday before downing Traverse City St. Francis 74-60 in the Final. The Buccaneers finished 28-0, becoming the 12th boys basketball team in MHSAA history to win that many games.

Up next: Morris is one of the state’s most sought-after juniors and was named The Associated Press’ Class C Player of the Year for the second straight. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game entering the final week of the season.’

I learned the most about basketball from: “Coach (Mike) Williams. I started playing with him in second grade. I just stayed in the gym and kept working hard every day.”

Besides teammates, among all the finalists at the Breslin Center, I’d most like to play with: Denzel Valentine (Lansing Sexton).

In my dream game, the four NBA guys I’d most like to play with are: “Dwight Howard down low. Then I’d have to go with Kevin Durant, Kobe (Bryan) and LeBron (James).” Where does that put you? “At the one,” Morris chuckled.

Live at Breslin Center: “I like playing on the big stage. It’s a treat. It’s a blessing that I get this opportunity, so I try to cherish it every time we get here.”

My favorite subject in school is: “I’ll have to go with chemistry/science, because it’s really not that boring. You learn about a lot of stuff.”

Denzel Valentine

Lansing Sexton senior

Basketball

The Associated Press Class B Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball runner-up missed triple-doubles by one and three assists, respectively, in helping the Big Reds to their second-straight Class B championship this weekend. Valentine, a 6-6 point guard, had 12 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and five steals in Sexton’s 74-59 Semifinal win over Detroit Country Day on Friday, and the next night had 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the 67-32 championship game win over Stevensville Lakeshore. He was a combined 10 of 17 shooting from the floor and made both 3-point tries over those two games. Valentine was a four-year starter for the Big Reds and came back after tearing a knee ligament as a freshman.

“When you win two state championships, it just shows the dominance and how good you are during your high school career. Winning those back-to-back championships, I was just trying to build a legacy."

Up next: Valentine has signed with Michigan State. He is unsure what he’ll major in, but is considering something in athletic training. He’ll join a Spartans team that must replace another former two-time high school champion, Saginaw’s Draymond Green. “Day Day won two basketball championships, and he helped State to two Final Fours. So hopefully I can do that too. … It’s just a winning mentality I have, and I hope it leads on to college."

I learned the most about basketball from: His father and Sexton High coach, Carlton Valentine, who also was a captain on Michigan State’s 1987-88 team.

I modeled my game after: His brother Drew Valentine, a 6-5 forward who also was an all-stater at Sexton and just finished his junior season at Oakland University.

If I could play with four others, they’d be: His Sexton teammates Bryn Forbes and Anthony “Sapp” Clemmons and the Heat’s James. “Sapp and I would just give it to LeBron and Bryn.”

Sexton boys basketball

The Big Reds get the honor this week after completing a run that has drawn comparisons to some of the best in MHSAA history. Sexton won its second-straight Class B championship in its third-straight MHSAA Final, and over the last three seasons amassed a record of 74-9. Those wins tie for sixth-most in MHSAA history over a three-year span.

The Big Reds beat all of their opponents by at least eight points and won every game during the postseason by at least 10. They finished 27-1, with that lone loss to Class A then-No. 1 Detroit Pershing.

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 9

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 6, 2023

We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA boys basketball season – and while the entertaining part is detailed below in our regular Monday report, there’s some major data crunching underway behind the scenes as well.

MI Student Aid

Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. More than 720 varsity teams are playing this winter, and we’re in the midst of a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 24-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.

Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – and when Districts are drawn and those top teams seeded Feb. 26, we hope to have every schedule up to date and every score filled in.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. North Farmington 68, Muskegon 55 These two have lived at or near the top of Division 1 MPR all season, making this win by the Raiders (12-1) at the 2K23 Showcase at Aquinas College arguably their best, especially considering it also was the first loss for the Big Reds (13-1). 

2. Saline 57, Ann Arbor Huron 47 The Hornets (11-4) saw an eight-game winning streak end three days later, but in this one handed Huron (13-1) its lone defeat of the season. 

3. Ann Arbor Huron 67, Benton Harbor 55 The River Rats, meanwhile, rebounded immediately with a 13-point win over Dexter and then a 67-55 victory over Benton Harbor (13-3) at Aquinas. 

4. Warren Lincoln 52, Grand Rapids Northview 37 The Abes (12-3) just keep impressing, this time with a big win over a Northview team matching their 12-3 record, also during the 2K23 Showcase. 

5. Iron Mountain 64, Powers North Central 58 This matched arguably the best in the Upper Peninsula in Divisions 3 and 4, respectively, with the Mountaineers moving to 13-1 and the Jets to 11-2.

A Montabella player gets to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:

DIVISION 1

Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) The Cubs have won outright or shared the last two Detroit Catholic League Central championships, and they’re hoping to run that streak to three by winning Friday’s rematch with first-place Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1). A 68-53 defeat to the Warriors on Jan. 24 and a 67-64 loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Jan. 6 have left Jesuit a game back, but the Cubs do have a sweep of reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate plus early impressive nonleague wins over Clarkston and Ferndale.

Kalamazoo Central (13-2) After just missing the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago – losing to Northview by two in a Quarterfinal – the Maroon Giants are ahead of their 16-win pace from that finish with their only losses to Brother Rice and Battle Creek Lakeview (11-3), the latter by a point. They also defeated Lakeview in the teams’ first meeting, handed Mattawan its only loss and most recently defeated Detroit Renaissance at the 2K23 event. 

DIVISION 2

Ferndale (7-6) Few if any have played a tougher schedule, especially considering Ferndale is Division 2 playing most of the Division 1 powers. The Eagles are No. 5 in Division 2 MPR despite a 1-5 start including losses to Brother Rice, Jesuit, St. Mary’s and Muskegon, and then a two-point loss to North Farmington last week. Meanwhile, Ferndale has defeated Grosse Pointe South (13-3), Flint Beecher (12-3), Clarkston (11-5) and River Rouge (10-5). The North Farmington rematch is Feb. 24, and a Feb. 11 matchup with Port Huron Northern should also boost MPR.

Grand Rapids Christian (10-4) The Eagles may be in fourth in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but they are No. 6 in Division 2 MPR. Three of the four losses were to league opponents, but Christian is coming off a 55-53 double-overtime win over Warren Michigan Collegiate (13-2) on Saturday at Aquinas. An early win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central and a Jan. 21 victory over De La Salle also stand out.

DIVISION 3

Flint Beecher (12-3) The Bucs are off to another big start after last season’s finish at the Division 3 Semifinals, losing only to Detroit Cass Tech (17-0), Benton Harbor and Ferndale as Beecher also has loaded up its nonleague schedule. Beecher also has four wins over teams with double-digit victories, with an 80-71 defeat of Flint Hamady (14-2) on Jan. 10 putting the Bucs in first in the Genesee Area Conference Red. The Hamady rematch is Feb. 18, before a major regular-season finish against Goodrich (13-1) and Grand Blanc (14-2).

Napoleon (14-0) The Pirates aren’t sneaking up on anyone after going 19-3 last season, but they are dominating nonetheless. All but one win have been by eight points or more, and Napoleon leads the Cascades Conference after finishing second last year with a pair of losses to Vandercook Lake. The Pirates not only defeated Vandercook in their first meeting, by 40, but next defeated Michigan Center by 17 after the Cardinals ended their season last winter. Napoleon also has a 63-45 win over Big 8 Conference co-leader Concord.

DIVISION 4

Baldwin (13-1) The Panthers are coming off an 18-5 finish and second place in the West Michigan D League, and they lead it this time by two games and with a win over Mesick after losing both meetings to the eventual league champ a year ago. Baldwin also has avenged a 2021-22 loss to Mason County Eastern and could avenge another hosting Traverse City Christian on Tuesday. The Panthers also have given Marion (11-4) half its losses.

Powers North Central (11-2) As noted above, the Jets are at least among the handful of elite small-school Upper Peninsula teams, No. 4 in statewide Division 4 MPR although second in D4 in the U.P. with Painesdale Jeffers in the top spot. Those two wouldn’t see each other until a Regional Final, where North Central’s 19-5 run ended last season. The Jets only defeats this time are to Division 2 Kingsford and Division 3 Iron Mountain, which stand a combined 25-3.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Goodrich (13-1) at Corunna (12-2) – They’re tied atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Goodrich winning the first meeting 69-54 on Jan. 10.

Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1) – As noted above, the Detroit Catholic League Central title will be on the line, as Jesuit can force a shared championship.

Saturday – Hamtramck (10-5) vs. Kalamazoo Central (13-2) at Benton Harbor – The Cosmos have faced their share of statewide elite as well, and will be seeking what would be one of their most notable wins in this Wilson Chandler Shootout matchup.

Saturday – Flint Hamady (14-2) at Davison (10-5) – Old rivals meet again as Davison is coached by longtime Beecher leader Mike Williams.

Saturday – Saginaw Arthur Hill (7-9) at Saginaw (14-4) – They’ll still have 2023-24 left before one the best rivalries in state history ends with a school merger, but this year’s rematch comes after Saginaw won 57-55 on Jan. 14.

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 Saginaw player gets to the rim during Friday's 59-54 loss to Mount Pleasant. (Middle) A Montabella player goes to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.(Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)