Bank Hoops Honor Roll: Week 6

Junior all-stater Brandon Johns came back from an eye injury to lead East Lansing past Holt.

Class A Player of the Week

Brandon Johns  6-9  Jr  East Lansing: Playing for first place in one of the state’s elite leagues, the CAAC Blue, Johns overcame missing a quarter with an eye injury to go for 33 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. East Lansing trailed by as many as 16 in the second half to beat Holt and remain unbeaten.

Class A Underclassman of the Week

Joseph Moon IV  6-0  So  Westland John Glenn: He was named MVP of John Glenn’s win over Oak Park at the Floyd Mayweather Invitational by scoring 25 points, a day after Moon scored 21 in a defeat of Livonia Franklin.

Class B Player of the Week

Armonee Felder  5-10  Sr  Detroit Osborn: He had 15 points as Osborn gave East English Village its first loss of the season, then 20 points and 10 assists in a win against North Farmington.

Class B Underclassman of the Week

Carlos Johnson  6-6  Fr  Benton Harbor: He’s been an impact contributor all season for the undefeated Tigers. Johnson had 10 points and 21 rebounds against Battle Creek Central and 10 points and 8 rebounds against Stevensville Lakeshore.

Class C Player of the Week

Jamal Cain  6-7  Sr  Detroit Cornerstone: The Marquette signee had 20 points and 17 rebounds in a win against Detroit Edison.

Class C Underclassman of the Week

Isaiah Jackson  6-6  Fr  Rochester Lutheran Northwest: Finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocked shots against Madison Heights Bishop Foley.

Class D Player of the Week

Austin Harris  6-4  Jr  Buckley: The Bears handed Class C Glen Lake its first loss of the season with Harris going for 29 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists.

Class D Underclassman of the Week

Hunter Duke  6-0  Fr  Litchfield: He led Litchfield with 20 points and 8 rebounds in a defeat of Colon.

Mr. Basketball Primary in Grand Rapids

The fifth-annual Floyd Mayweather Basketball Classic featured likely Mr. Basketball finalists Greg Elliott of Detroit East English Village and Isaiah Livers of Kalamazoo Central.

The featured game of the fifth-annual Floyd Mayweather Invitational at Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills featured two possible Class A finalists, Detroit East English Village and Kalamazoo Central. And with the game within the game, it also showcased two likely Mr. Basketball finalists, EEV’s 6-3 Greg Elliott, the state’s top unsigned senior, and K-Central’s 6-8 Isaiah Livers, who signed early with Michigan.

East English blitzed Kazoo Central early, with the Maroon Giants never able to fully recover and ultimately taking their first loss of the season, 73-63. Both teams are now 7-1.

Elliott and junior U-M commitment David DeJulius form a high-major backcourt for the Bulldogs. They play with impressive chemistry considering this is DeJulius’ first year at the school. DeJulius was named the game’s MVP after scoring 28 points. Elliott scored 25, but did it in a more efficient manner making 8-of-14 field goals (2-4 three-pointers) and all seven of his free throws, while his younger backcourt partner was 10-of-25 from the floor. Elliott is a menace is transition because he can play off DeJulius or sophomore guard  Tariq Shepherd to extend or finish, or push and attack himself. For a tall, angular guard dribbling as fast as he does, it’s rare that Elliott is able to pull off tight fake and avoidance moves at the same time. Even before he was a dunk  hunting crowd pleaser, Elliott was a steady, complete player, and that continues. He defied his physique to grab six rebounds and added two assists and steals apiece and even a blocked shot.

Past Michigan prep players similar to Greg Elliott:

  • Manny Harris
  • Chris Hass
  • Brandon Jenkins
  • Milo Stovall
  • Edmond Sumner

Like Elliott and DeJulius, Livers has a partner he vibes with, 6-4 senior Roger Stein. They form a dangerous high-lost combination and either can throw an alley-oop to the other. Livers scored 22 points on 6-of-9 field goals (3-4 three-pointers) and 7-for-9 at the stripe. Any opposing driver needs to be cognizant of Livers lurking on the weakside, as he blocked four EEV shots. His six rebounds were disappointing given Livers’ height advantage over anyone in the game. There was one scrum in particular where a putback would’ve given Kalamazoo Central some much-needed momentum, but their star was nowhere near. It’s Livers’ versatility, his comfort and ease with the ball away from the basket, that makes him such an intriguing college prospect. But it also keeps him from being a dominating high school player who owns the lane at 6-8.

Past Michigan prep players similar to Isaiah Livers:

  • Ronald Coleman
  • Chris Crawford
  • James Head
  • Parish Hickman
  • Andy Poppink

 

Bank Hoops Honor Roll: Week 5

Godwin Heights junior Markeese Hastings got it done on both ends against Zeeland East.

Class A Player of the Week

Brandon Wade  6-1  Jr  Ann Arbor Skyline: In a game featuring future college talent on both sides, Wade scored 32 points in Skyline’s three-point win against Belleville.

Class A Underclassman of the Week

Nolan Foster  6-10  So  Mattawan: Future D1 big man did more than just flash potential, he produced with a career effort in a win over Portage Northern with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

Class B Player of the Week

Markeese Hastings  6-6  Jr  Wyoming Godwin Heights: He led the state’s No. 1 Class B team past Zeeland East with 20 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. The week before he made the game-winning shot against Wayland.

Class B Underclassman of the Week

Wendell Green  5-10  Fr  Detroit Country Day: Both DCD’s and Holland Christian’s coaches, Mark Bray and Jason Mejeur, both played at Hope College. Hope coach Greg Mitchell can likely only dream of Green doing the same after he scored 17 in Country Day’s win over the Maroons.

Class C Player of the Week

Blake Dunn  5-10  Sr  Saugatuck: What’s a bad ankle to one of the greatest four-sport athletes in state history? Dunn still scored 31 as Saugatuck beat Hartford.

Class C Underclassman of the Week

Xander Okerlund  6-3  So  Maple City Glen Lake: In a win over previously unbeaten Elk Rapids, still undefeated Glen Lake got 26 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals from Okerlund, then 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals in another win against Suttons Bay.

Class D Player of the Week

Zachary Burk  6-0  Sr  Lutheran Westland: In wins over Frankel Jewish Academy and Bloomfield Hills Roeper, Burk had 27 points and 14 rebounds and 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Class D Underclassman of the Week

Nicholas Edington  6-6  Fr  Posen: He had the best game of his young career in a win against Newberry, with 12 points, 11 rebounds and a blocked shot.

Class C Picks

Team rankings don’t mean anything in March. It’s all about getting to the Breslin. Here are the four Class C teams most likely to make it nearly three months from now.

Levane Blake holds down the paint for defending Class C champion Flint Beecher.

Davenport 1/4: Pewamo-Westphalia  P-W did it in football, now we have them as the “local” Class C rep at the Breslin Center. A step before that is a smaller but still terrific college venue, Davenport for the quarterfinal. That’s of course if they can even get out of one of the state’s toughest districts, at Bath. Despite getting a late start because of their championship football run, P-W was undefeated through the first week of the new year. Senior Ryan Smith is back at the point and another senior, Jimmy Lehman. 6-5 sophomore Andre Smith has a lot of potential. Also in the Bath district, 6-9 Dansville sophomore Caleb Hodgson is the top college prospect, while the host school and Carson City-Crystal have shooters that can knock you out on a given night, Bath junior Harry Gilstrap and CCC senior Kaleb Barrett. The team that survives the Bath district will likely have to get past 2016 state runner-up Grandville Calvin Christian and Muskegon Heights. As always, the Heights has guard depth and will press and run. They brought in the new year by knocking off a pair of Class A teams, Petoskey and Traverse City West. No one in Class C can cover Calvin’s 6-10 junior Blake Verbeek, but this team is still finding itself as an all-state guard like the graduated Tony Dewitte isn’t readily replaced. Pewamo-Westphalia would face the winner of the Bangor regional. Right now Niles Brandywine and Kalamazoo Hackett are undefeated. Brandywine senior guard Hunter Slaughter is streaky enough to beat most anyone or lose to a lot of teams, so that’s a scary proposition. Hackett is the steadier more traditional of the two, with a size advantage with 6-6 senior Teddy Oosterbaan.

Tecumseh 1/4: Michigan Center  Hanover-Horton traditionally rules the Napoleon district. But this could be the year Michigan Center gets past their Cascades Conference rival. MC is undefeated, including two neutral courts wins at Williamston’s Christmas tournament including Class A DeWitt. Michigan Center is a classic, local Class C team with balance, shooters, chemistry and pace. Senior Austin McKenzie is a smart point guard who can shoot it, senior guard Kylen Brown scores and creates off the dribble and Connor Pelham plays bigger than his 6-3.  Michigan Center would likely first see Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the Hudson regional. SMCC just continues to roll, with all-staters following all-staters. The most recent is 6-7 senior Nick Welch and St. Mary has started undefeated in a quest for a third-straight season with at least 20 wins. Led by 6-4 senior Hunter Gallagher, Sand Creek is undefeated thus far and could await in the regional final.
Then there’s the Bishop Foley regional is the most talented in Class C. From the Loyola district there’s the host school, a 2016 semifinalist, and Cornerstone, which has 6-6 senior Jamal Cain going to Marquette and senior guard Davion Bradford a scholarship player himself. On the other side it will be Detroit Edison or Pershing. Edison hasn’t been great but future CMU point guard Pierre Mitchell, formerly of Loyola, is soon eligible and will helps things fall into place. 6-7 junior Deante “Spider” Johnson is an impact big man at this level. Surely Pershing is the only 0-5 team in Michigan with legitimate final four hopes. The Doughboys have lost to the likes of Macomb Dakota and Belleville in non-league and PSL games to East English Village and Detroit King. Edison and Pershing will play a district preview next week.

 

Mt. Pleasant: Flint Beecher  Who else? Beecher will be playing for its third straight state championship and fifth in the past six seasons. The only interruption to the streak came in 2014 when Pewamo-Westphalia knocked them out in the quarterfinals and Josh Jackson’s Consortium team ended up winning it all. Beecher’s backcourt returns, seniors Jordan Rowland and all-stater Malik Ellison, as does senior center Levane Blake. And the tradition will continue, as 6-2 Jalen Terry is one of the state’s top freshmen. Beecher is 5-2 thus far, including a win over 2016 Class A champion Detroit U-D Jesuit and losses to Detroit East English Village and 2016 Class C state champion Henry Ford.

 

Petoskey 1/4: Manton  The “jewel of Northern Michigan gyms” has hosted some amazing post-season games that haven’t involved Petoskey, most notably 2003 when a Charlevoix and Traverse City St. Francis regional had them wrapped around the upstairs track. This March, Manton beating Negaunee could add to the lore. Both are undefeated now. But Manton may not stay clean for long, as they go to unbeaten McBain on Wednesday. McBain would be the safe pick to win this quarterfinal, as they Ramblers did a year ago with one of the very best on the bench when it comes to bracket navigation Bruce Koopman. Senior guard Logan Eling maxes out his talent and was all-state caliber in the non-league schedule; if senior forward Craig Sterk would his he’d be the top frontcourt player in the entire division. Junior guard Seager Wiltzer has emerged as a consistent third scorer. Manton’s confidence had to be buoyed when McBain took a scrimmage loss to Buckley, a Class D team that like the Rangers has a bunch of guards who push tempo and knock down 3. The Rangers began the season by beating the two Class A teams favored to win the Big North, Traverse City West and Petoskey (while to its credit McBain just beat the third possibility in the Big North, Cadillac). Manton junior Jayden Perry is the kind of tough kid, a scoring threat that also keeps teammates happy, that you can win with big as a high school point guard. He pairs in the backcourt with another small but dangerous junior Hunter Ruell. This is a balanced team as senior Treh Helsel and soph Trever Salani can get ou 20 if needed while 6-4 senior Wyatt Baker plays with a motor and edge around the hoop.
The Manton/McBain district winner will likely face Maple City Glen Lake in the Houghton Lake regional. Glen Lake is undefeated so far and has the best young player in the North, 6-3 sophomore Xander Okerlund, and some length with 6-5 junior Cade Pedersen and 6-5 senior Oscar Okerlund.  But Elk Rapids won’t be an easy out in their district at TCSF, as this is now more fully Brett Graham’s team in his second season on the bench. Another Lake Michigan Conference team, Boyne City, should also end up at Houghton Lake, a young team with one of Class C’s top athletes 6-4 Mason Gardner. Negaunee is undefeated and favored to win the Escanaba regional for the right to represent the UP in P-town. 6-7 senior Trent Bell is dominant in the paint averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Neganuee shouldn’t take anything for granted. They were 19-1 in the 2016 regular season, then lost in their district opener to Ishpeming.

Bank Hoops Honor Roll: Week 4

Kalamazoo Central’s Isaiah Livers bolstered his Mr. Basketball chances with a career game against Oak Park.

Class A Player of the Week

Isaiah Livers  6-8  Sr  Kalamazoo Central: The Michigan early signee obliterated his previous career highs with a game of 30 points and 24 rebounds as Kazoo Central beat Oak Park 82-73 in overtime in the Don Jackson Invitational.

Class A Underclassman of the Week

Lorne Bowman  6-2  Fr  Detroit Western: In a freshman class with a number of point guards already contributing on the varsity level, Bowman threw in his hat with 18 points in Western’s win over Detroit Cornerstone.

Class B Player of the Week

Jacob Polakovich  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids Catholic Central: He was named MVP of the 10-team Catholic Invitational thanks to 34 points and 16 rebounds in the Cougars’ win over Detroit Loyola.

Class B Underclassman of the Week

Steve Pearson  6-2  Fr  Detroit Northwestern: Class of 2006 retrofit whose game recalls Ramar Smith, Jordan Crawford and Leon Freeman. Pearson had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a defeat of Ferndale.

Class C Player of the Week

Kaleb Keipert  6-7  Sr  Roscommon: On consecutive nights in the Roscommon Holiday Invitational, Keipert scored 27 against Pinconning and then 25 points against Tawas. Both were wins for the host school.

Class C Underclassman of the Week

Austin Forbes  5-10  So  Gwinn: He led the Modeltowners with a career-high 18 points as they beat Superior Central.

Class D Player of the Week

Daniel Everhart  6-0  Jr  Marine City Cardinal Mooney: He had 27 points and 12 assists in a 71-60 win over Memphis (not the one in Tennessee, so it’s within the MHSAA travel zone).

Class D Underclassman of the Week

Caleb Hunter  5-10  So  Southfield Christian: In Southfield Christian’s last game, a win over Grosse Pointe University Liggett, this Eagles legacy scored 16 points.

Catholic Invitational Successful Debut

With a nod to the glory days of the Grand Rapids Press Invitational in the 1980s-90s, when the best teams in Detroit visited West Michigan for the holidays, the inaugural Catholic Invitational debuted before the New Year. Hosted by Grand Rapids Catholic and sponsored by Aquinas College, it brought nine Catholic schools from across the state, and one from Ohio, to burgeoning and bustling downtown GR for a day of hoops. For the day, Kalamazoo Hackett beat Muskegon Catholic Central; Lansing Catholic beat Grand Rapids West Catholic; Pontiac Notre Dame beat Flint Powers; defending Class A state champion Detroit U-D Jesuit beat Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary; and Grand Rapids Catholic Central topped Detroit Loyola.

The Catholic Invitational’s best performers included:

Austin Braun  5-10  So  Grand Rapids Catholic Central: Catholic Central will be a legit Class B title contender in 2018, and Braun looks like the kind of guard who as an upperclassman could help get you there. Sees the floor in transition, knocked down threes and showed a knack for hitting touch, clutch shots in the Cougars win over Detroit Loyola.

Nick Bryant  6-0  Sr  Detroit Loyola: Egged on from the stands by members of the U-D Jesuit team to put up shots they would probably never dare do the same in their own game, Bryant gunned Loyola to a second-half comeback against Catholic Central scoring 22. Flyweight build and propensity to cherrypick likely hinder any future in college ball.

Cameryn Carpenter  6-0  Jr  Flint Powers: Conspicuous in his absence, as Powers didn’t stand a chance against Pontiac Notre Dame with their 20 a game scorer out injured.

Tariq Derrickson  6-0  Jr  Pontiac Notre Dame: Turned in a very efficient game in limited minutes against Flint Powers. Derrickson finished with 15 points on 5-of-9 (3-of-7 three-pointers) with five assists, no turnovers, and four steals. Makes defenders unbalanced because he’s herky-jerky and left-handed, with soft mitts delivering quick, one-handed passes. Jumpy, handsy on D can also square his body and keep ball-handlers from turning corner into the lane. Range on his shot while riding the line between daring and irresponsible with the trigger. College point guard at a lower level but coaches will want to see him against better competition.

Julian Dozier  5-8  So  Detroit U-D Jesuit: An outstanding age group AAU player facing a steep learning curve in his first season as a starter. When he was able to push the ball and run looked great, but that was rare in a game without much flow. Had five assists but as many turnovers while shooting 1-for-8 from the field. May want to go Scottie Pippen style and bank in the wing shots.

Walking double-double Greg Eboigbodin looks like a Horizon League recruiting gem for Illinois-Chicago.

Greg Eboigbodin  6-9  Sr  Detroit U-D Jesuit: Like he always seems to, produced on both ends. Fans up from Akron couldn’t tell which of U-D’s starting big men is the one going to the Big East school, Eboigbodin or the actual Marquette signee Ike Eke. What a get for UIC. Exploited the Cubs’ serious height advantage to the tune of 14 points, 12 rebound and two blocked shots. Can still be a sucker for a good pump fake.

Jayvon Graves  6-2  Sr  Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary: He was one of the most exciting players in Grand Rapids back in July playing for King James in the Brawl for the Ball, and though SVSM lost to U-D Jesuit Graves showed that summer performance was no fluke. Big, powerful explosive guard who is best attacking downhill, but the Cubs were able to make it tough to get into the lane because, though LeBron James’ alma mater started five guards, none of them shot well. Graves chose Nate Oats’ Buffalo programs out of a dozen mid-major offers and signed early with the Bulls.

Keith Johnson  6-2  Jr  Detroit Loyola: His husky football body belies Johnson’s sweet shooting touch and quick release. He scored 19 points on 6-of-10 field goals (including 3-for-5 three-pointers).

Teddy Oosterbaan  6-6  Sr  Kalamazoo Hackett: Led the Irish with 16 points in their day-opening win over Muskegon Catholic Central. Doesn’t shy from the glass, finishes in the post and has good footwork thanks to tennis, the sport Oosterbaan will play at Michigan.

Chuck Plaehn  6-3  Sr  Lansing Catholic Central: Soccer standout moves with predictable ease in the open court, with or without the ball. Determined wing scorer with body control around the rim. Talks through his free throws and it works. Funky foot positioning but sunk 2-of-3 three-pointers in the Cougars win against West Catholic. Could get tied up and pushed off position by stronger defenders. Weight room away from being an upperclassman MIAA contributor if he chose that route.

Jacob Polakovich  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids Catholic Central: He was named the overall event MVP, but there was no home school favoritism as Polakovich thoroughly dominated defending Class C semifinalist Detroit Loyola in the nightcap. He scored 34 points on 15-of-21 field goals (including 2-for-2 from behind the arc) with 16 rebounds and two blocked shots. Polakovich is one of the strongest bigs in the state and consistently carved out position for easy finishes. Showed good hands and hit a variety of shots. Doesn’t play above the rim and needs to be able to defend the three-point shot as well as shoot it himself, but looks like a mid-major lock at this point. Towards the latter point, Polakovich did a nice job staying in front of Keith Johnson away from the basket, allowing him to stay on the court even when Loyola was playing five guards. When 6-10 junior Marcus Bingham is eligible for the Cougars, there aren’t going to be many answers for a high-low tandem where both can shoot it likes these two.

Jalen Thomas  6-9  So  Detroit U-D Jesuit: Did nothing to dissuade those of us who have Thomas ranked as one of the state’s top 10 2019 prospects. On his very first touch hit a jumphook in the lane. Looked well schooled and aware defensively with his ability to hedge and recover. Also looked raw and young when missing a layup and passing an outlet across the opponent’s basket.

Bank Hoops Honor Roll: Week 3

Clarkston’s Dylan Alderson came up huge in the Wolves’ 100-90 win over Ann Arbor Skyline.

Class A Player of the Week

Dylan Alderson  6-5  Sr  Clarkston: In an amazing offensive display from both teams, with the state’s No. 1 team Clarkston prevailing 100-90 over Ann Arbor Skyline (in regulation), Alderson scored 37 points. He signed early with Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Class A Underclassman of the Week

Taylor Currie  6-9  So  Clarkston: In the same game as Alderson above, Currie came of age for his new team with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Clarkston.

Class B Player of the Week

Trevion Williams  6-8  Jr  Detroit Henry Ford Academy: He did nothing to diminish his status as one of the state’s top five 2018 prospects, including offers from MSU and Xavier, with his 35-point, 32-rebound effort in a defeat of Dearborn Henry Ford Academy.

Class B Underclassman of the Week

Elijah Bell  5-9  So  Detroit Voyageur: He was one of the top guards at the Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp in July, and that’s carried over to the regular season. Bell had 21 points and 10 rebounds in a win against Melvindale ABT.

Class C Player of the Week

Connor Pelham  6-3  Sr  Michigan Center: He had his typical all-around performance as one of five double-digit scorers as Michigan Center beat Class A DeWitt 86-75 on a neutral court, then improved to 6-0 the next day with a win over Dansville.

Class C Underclassman of the Week

Tyrese Hunt-Thompson  6-1  So  Cassopolis: He had a terrific football season and is doing the same on the hardwood. THT had 19 points, six rebounds, eight assists and eight steals in a win against Decatur.

Class D Player of the Week

Jaylon Rogers  6-1  Jr  Frankfort: He scored 34 points as Frankfort, a top 10 Class D team, knocked off traditional Class C power Traverse City St. Francis.

Bank Hoops Honor Roll: Week Two

Class A Player of the Week

  • David DeJulius  6-0  Jr  Detroit East English Village: Class A ball clearly hasn’t fazed a former Class C all-stater, buoyed by the background of not one but two seasons of 16U AAU with the Family. So now for the second time in as many weeks that an East English guard is recognized here. DeJulius follows Greg Elliott thanks to a 46-point performance in a win over Macomb Dakota. That cemented a scholarship offer from Michigan.

Class A Underclassman of the Week

  • Ryan Wade  6-1  So  Ann Arbor Skyline: Here’s another guard who, like DeJulius, has played up in AAU against older and elite competition and isn’t shy about the moment. Wade hit a three-pointer to tie the game in second OT and send it to a third with Skyline finally beating Ann Arbor Huron 95-92 in what may go down as the best regular season game played in Michigan this season. Though he missed his freshman season with a knee injury Wade has come back to show he’s still one of the best young shooters in the state. He was class of 2019 MVP at the fall 2015 Bank Hoops All-State Camp.

Class B Player of the Week

Luke Morrell  6-1  Jr  Plainwell: He scored 25 points including the game-winner at the horn in a 60-58 overtime win against Paw Paw. Not bad for a kid whose first sport is soccer.

Class B Underclassman of the Week

  • Romeo Weems  6-5  So  New Haven: He led New Haven to a 2-1 week with wins over Grosse Pointe South and Detroit Loyola, and a loss to Macomb Dakota, including 28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and five blocked shots against GP South.

Class C Player of the Week

  • Carter Johnston  6-1  Sr  Beaverton: The veteran point guard who averaged 17 points, 7 assists as a junior, came up big in the fourth quarter and finished with 31 points as Beaverton beat Sanford Meridian to improve to 4-0.

Class C Underclassman of the Week

  • Jeff Carrier  6-5  Fr  Mason County Central: In a win over North Muskegon, Carrier had 12 points and five assists.

Class D Player of the Week

  • Matt Havey  6-1  Sr  Lansing Christian: He scored 40 points on 6-11 three-pointers with nine rebounds and four steals as the Pilgrims beat Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart. Havey followed up that with 23 points in a win over Vermontville Maple Valley.

Class D Underclassman of the Week

  • Cameron Martinez  6-0  Fr  Muskegon Catholic Central: He was the QB of MCC’s state championship football, which may have helped Martinez maintain poise in a loss to Muskegon Heights scoring 22 points.

Class B Picks

Team rankings don’t mean anything in March. It’s all about getting to the Breslin. Here are the four Class B teams most likely to make it nearly four months from now.

New Haven’s Eric Williams is back as the Rockets look to take the next step in March.

Caledonia 1/4: Wayland  The MHSAA should expect a flurry of Christmas cards bearing zip code 49348 after Wayland and Godwin Heights no longer share a district. Godwin knocked out two very good Wayland teams the opening week of the past two state tournaments. No Class B point/post duo has a rapport quite like Wildcats seniors Avery Hudson and Zack Nieuwkoop. A senior and another fourth-year varsity member Mitch Dykstra, who can attack and score from the wing. Wayland will have to get past Benton Harbor or Stevensville Lakeshore. Benton Harbor graduated their top two guards and leading scorers. Thus commences the era of freshman forward Carlos Johnson, who is being mentioned with the likes of some legendary Tigers. Lakeshore graduated all-state center Braden Burke but this program is always a threat, as the Lancers proved last year parlaying an average regular season into an appearance in the state championship game. Senior Alex Warman looks like the next breakout forward from Lakeshore, a springy dunker at 6-7 committed to Hope. Coming out of the Sparta regional should be either Allendale or Grand Rapids Catholic Central. A future WMU tight end Nate Umlor is a terrific high school forward for Allendale and senior guard Hunter Greer can really shoot it. GR Catholic played a lot of youth last year. They already had a tough junior post duo with 6-8 Jacob Polakovich and 6-5 Jalen Mayfield, a group bolstered by 6-9 junior Ottawa Hills transfer Marcus Bingham a poor man’s Deyonta Davis.

Chelsea 1/4: Godwin Heights  This is no easy go for Godwin. River Rouge likely awaits in the quarterfinal and the Panthers have the guard play, athletes and coaching to match up with the 2015 state champions. But first in the Ionia regional Godwin would have to avenge the loss to the team that kept the Wolverines from going back-to-back, Williamston. They graduate all-state guard Riley Lewis but still have a tough backcourt in senior Sy Barnett and junior Cole Kleiver. Williamston will have win a district that includes a not so distant state champion, Lansing Sexton, as well as recently demoted Class A schools Lansing Eastern and Everett. Godwin Heights is best known for its pressure defense, explosive scoring of junior guard Lamar Norman and slick playmaking of senior point guard Christian Rodriguez. There’s depth, as Norman headlines a loaded junior class of guards Peyton Harley, Susu Davenport and David Kellah and forwards Markeese Hastings and D’Avery Moore. And senior forward Kelvyn Valdez is athletic as any of them. A River Rouge match in the quarterfinal would be “big league” as the Panthers return all-state point guard Darian Owens-White and look for new senior wing guard Drequan Bell to flourish under new coach Mark White. Look for Rouge to face Dearborn Divine Child in the Milan regional final. Times are good at DC where they’re coming off a strong football season and 6-6 junior Quinn Blair is a D1 forward prospect.

St. Clair Shores Lakeshore 1/4: New Haven  The Livonia Clarenceville regional may the state’s toughest. Defending state champion Detroit Henry Ford isn’t going anywhere as they showed with a win this week against defending Class C champion Flint Beecher. Henry Ford will likely face Hazel Park or another PSL team, Douglass or Northwestern, in the Clarenceville final. Northwestern graduated all-state guard Terrance Sewell but the backcourt is strong returning senior Kylan Shipp and adding one of the state’s top 5 freshmen Steve Pearson. Hazel Park returns its junior backcourt with Carl Bow launching from three-point range and lefty David Hearns locking down on the ball. 6-9 senior Kristian Lafayette has potential, but HP may miss the all-around post production of James Jenkins. New Haven is favored to come out of the North Branch regional. Last season they had to run its offense through its senior bigs. Now they have a more natural option at point guard in senior transfer AJ Crawford, who has committed to Spring Arbor. The strength of the team is on the wing with senior Eric Williams and the state’s top sophomore Romeo Weems. Goodrich and Detroit Country Day will be New Haven’s most likely regional threat. Goliath Mitchell is a junior vet at guard for the Martians, while the next Country Day star is only a freshman Wendell Green.

Battle Creek Central 1/4: Big Rapids Big Rapids is the pick to return to the Breslin Center. 6-5 senior Demetri Martin is the leading returning scorer for their state semifinalist team. There’s solid size and shooting across the board with 6-4 junior Braeden Childress and 6-4 soph Jake Martinson. It will be tough to reproduce the prolific perimeter scoring of Kenny Davis, so look for a more balanced approach from the Cardinals. Meanwhile, there are any number of individual stars that could carry a team and knock off Big Rapids. In the Corunna regional, Frankenmuth’s 6-3 junior Mario Whitley, Bridgeport’s 6-3 junior Charles Garrett. In the Grayling regional, the home team’s 6-8 Troy Summers, Sault Ste. Marie’s 6-8 junior Brandon Paul and Gladstone’s 6-4 sophomore Reece Castor. And never overlook Cadillac, because they’ll always guard you.