Sweet semis

Wednesday’s top MHSAA district semifinal games for each class.

Class A
Detroit Western 15-3 vs Detroit East English Village 17-4, 5:30 Grosse Pte. South:
Western can keep a repeat dream alive if the Cowboys can again keep it under 60 like they did when beating EEV last month. Easier said than done, as East English Village’s lanky guard pair of senior Karmari Newman and junior Greg Elliott can share 50 themselves.

Class B
Yale 17-4 vs Imlay City 17-3, 7:30 Croswell-Lexington:
Most have heard of Yale senior guard Cody Kegley, who signed with NMU, while Seith Reiff is a good senior guard himself for Imlay City. His teammate Griffin Schirmer is a matchup dilemma as a 6-6 junior wing.

Class C
Detroit Allen 18-2 vs Detroit Loyola 16-5, 5 Detroit Loyola: The home team will want to keep it in the 60s. That may be a steep task given Allen’s horses, including one for whom the Bulldogs don’t have an apparent answer 6-8 senior Danny Pippen.

Class D
Bellaire 20-1 vs Boyne Falls 17-3, 6
Bellaire: The home team’s only loss was to East Jordan, which also beat Boyne Falls during the regular season. Bellaire’s superior depth could make the difference.

Class D: Districts from hell

The schools may be small, but the stakes are high. Here are the state’s Class D districts from which it may be toughest to emerge.

13-6 Fulton reached the state semis last year. Senior guard Colton Antes is their all-state candidate this time. The most likely final here has Fulton facing the Fowler-Vestaburg winner. Vestaburg is 13-3 while Fowler comes in at 12-7 with the best big man in the district, junior Jeremy Pung.

Both Martin and Climax-Scotts are 15-5, and Martin has home court advantage. But is that enough in their first-round matchup to contend with 6-2 C-S senior Dallas Forberg and his 23.5 points per game? The winner will likely see 16-3 Kalamazoo Heritage in the final.

Suttons Bay
18-2 Frankfort has an opening round bye as the try to reach Breslin for the second time in three years. The Panthers flashed their March bonafides by recently taking the best Class C team in Northern Michigan, McBain, to overtime. They’ll play the Suttons Bay-Leland winner. If 13-7 Suttons Bay can establish their pace and get good shots for sophomore guard Thomas Hursey. Frankfort’s leading scorer is a sophomore guard himself, Jaylon Roger. Frankfort awaits the Suttons Bay-Leland winner, and will likely play Northport, 13-6 and with a rare league crown, in the final.

The probably semifinal between 19-1 Bellaire and 17-3 Boyne Falls will decide this one. Bellaire has one of the top prospects on pure talent in Class D, 6-3 junior Gabe Meriwether, while 6-2 Boyne Falls senior Marcus Matelski is looking to prolong an already ridiculously prolific career.

At 17-2 Onekama sits atop as king of this bracket, opening with .500 Fife Lake Forest Area. The other semifinal will likely be between 13-6 Bear Lake, and a team they recently beat rather easily 13-6 Buckley. But if Buckley’s personnel get it going on the same day, their young talent is the best in this district.

Class C: Districts from hell

How tough is Class C? The No. 1 team, Detroit Allen, will have to get out of the division’s strongest district, while two-time defending champion Flint Beecher is one of four winning teams in its district. Those and more below.

Whitmore Lake
Lutheran Westland is 20-0 and plays Ann Arbor Greenhills in the semis. Lutheran defends really tough for a Class C school and has three terrific players senior guard Brent Croft, junior forward Luke Smith and junior guard Kory Bankimo. They will likely face Arbor Prep in the final. The latter has a chance if like another local kid two years ago, Skyline’s Tristan Wilson, 6-7 senior Kyle Hayes takes over like he can.

Kalamazoo Christian
The host school and Kalamazoo Hackett should play a third time, in the district final. Kazoo Christian’s only two losses are to 20-0 Hackett. The last one was serious, Hackett won by 25. That’s running clock in AAU. Christian has a sweet shooter in 6-4 senior Kevin Wunderly, while Hackett is led by a pair of 6-1 seniors Jack Dales and Dane Preston.

The host, Saugatuck, is 15-3 and has the state’s best athlete — junior Blake Dunn. With his gaudy scoring average he could now add basketball to one of what would be four all-state sports. They open with .500 Wellspring. Awaiting the winner is Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian. Last year’s state runnerup fell to 10-8. But they had the toughest schedule here, and feature the least guard-able scorer 6-6 senior Tyler Baker. 15-4 Calvin Christian and 15-5 Covenant Christian meet in the other semifinal.

Elk Rapids
Johanesburg-Lewiston is 18-2, but did it coming out of the Class D-heavy Ski Valley. They open with 13-7 Traverse City St. Francis, who comes from one of the state’s top Class C leagues, the Lake Michigan, and best March coaches, Keith Haske. Senior guard Dylan Sheehy has had a terrific season for the Gladiators. Ditto senior guard Shae Somers, whose 12-8 Elk Rapids team plays 12-4 Grand Traverse Academy. Awaiting that winner is 14-6 Maple City Glen Lake.

Indian River
The likely final pits 18-2 East Jordan and 17-3 St. Ignace. Both feature senior guards vying for all-state honors. EJ’s Jordan Weber, with the greenest of lights and guilt-free range, and Iggy’s Gage Kreski, perpetual motion headed to CMU for football, couldn’t be more different. Nothing’s a given though. East Jordan opens against the best team Inland Lakes has had in years at 11-9, while on the other half of the bracket the Saints will have to get past Lake Michigan Conference rivals Boyne City or Charlevoix. Boyne is just a year removed from the state semifinals. 

Burton Bendle
17-2 Flint Beecher begins the journey to a possible third-straight state championship against 17-2 Flint Hamady. Beecher’s only losses are to the state’s top Class A team, 20-0 Detroit U-D Jesuit, and last year’s Class A champion, Detroit Western. Monday’s other game features 17-3 Burton Bendle against 14-5 Burton Atherton. Bendle swept that regular seson series. 

Harbor Beach
Pencil in 18-0 Bad Axe to the final. 14-5 USA recently played Bad Axe close and has a first-round date with 14-5 Harbor Beach. 

Detroit Loyola
There are plenty of Class A schools that would want nothing to do with this district. Detroit Allen’s talent is rare for Class C. Senior guard Jason Williams is going to ETSU, 6-8 Danny Pippen to Kent State, and freshman guard Mark Watts already has an offer from Oakland. They will play Monday’s winner between Detroit Southeastern and Detroit Loyola, 15-4 and battled-tested in the Catholic League. 14-4 Detroit Edison has the other bye, and yet another underclassman D1 guard joining Watts and Loyola’s CMU sophomore pledge PJ Mitchell, sophomore David Dejulius. They play the winner of University Liggett and Detroit Pershing, the not-so-long ago Class A power. The Doughboys have the only one here with any kind of chance of sticking with Pippen, 6-6 senior David Syfax. 

Class A: Districts from hell

All brackets may be created equal, but the teams on the lines aren’t. Here are the toughest Class A districts for the MHSAA tournament which opens Monday. All these groupings have more than one team capable of winning then making a further run, and are full of college prospects. All districts semifinals are Wednesday, finals Friday.

They took the Ann Arbor City Championship to Dexter. 16-5 Pioneer and 13-7 Skyline meet in one semifinal, while 15-4 Huron awaits the Dexter-Pinckney play-in. Skyline was 0-4 in the regular season series, while Pioneer and Huron both swept Skyline while splitting with each other. In the 2017-18-19 classes, there is as lot of guard and wing talent between the three schools. Jack Smith is the leading scorer of Huron’s trio of athletic 6-2 juniors with Alec Anderson and Lawrence Rowley. While he may not be high on the recruiting charts due to his size, junior Chris McGaughy is Pioneer’s leading scorer and a terrific high school player. Skyline’s leading scorers are a pair of 10th-grade guards, Brandon Wade and Jack Ammerman.

Grosse Pointe South
Defending state champion 15-3 Detroit Western awaits PSL champion 16-4 East English Village in the semis. The bottom half of the bracket features two programs with bright futures Detroit King and Cass Tech. EEV has the top senior, Karmari Newman, and junior, Greg Elliott, in the PSL; Western’s Brailen Neely will be the next star guard at Oakland; and Cass Tech’s 6-5 Randy Gilbert is the top soph prospect in the PSL.

Canton is a top 10 Class A team after running clean through the KLAA regular season and tournament to a 20-0 mark. Their 6-8 stretch 4 Logan Ryan is one of the state’s top available, college eligible seniors. Canton will likely meet 19-1 Northville in the semis. They didn’t play in the league tournament because Northville was upset by Churchill.

East Lansing
The Trojans dominated the CAAC Blue and enter the postseason 19-0. They’ll want to end the tournament right where it begins for them — East Lansing. They open with 13-6 Waverly, with 15-4 DeWitt next. Two of the best senior guards in Lansing face off in the other opening game Brandon Allen of 11-9 Haslett and Malek Adams from 14-6 Grand Ledge. East Lansing has to be the favorite, thanks to the state’s best prospect regardless of class, 6-8 sophomore Brandon Johns, and a deep group of high IQ shooters and passers. One-win Lansing Eastern is the outlier in this district.

West Ottawa is one of the state’s rising programs with five sophomores in the rotation of the 17-3 O-K Red champions. It should be an entertaining opening round match with fast-paced 14-6 Wyoming. There is D1 guard talent on the top of the bracket with 11-8 Holland and junior Demetrius Lake against 8-11 Jenison and sophomore Jacob Boonyasith. That winner will likely face 15-5 Zeeland East in the semifinals.

Grand Rapids Christian
There’s a rematch here where in 2015 Ottawa Hills ended East Kentwood’s 20-0 campaign. This time around EK is 15-5 and features one of the state’s top D2 recruits 6-4 senior Micah Rosser, while 10-9 Ottawa Hills has one of the state’s top juco recruits senior guard Anthony McIntosh. 19-1 Grand Rapids Christian is the district favorite. The mid-season addition of a D1 frontcourt, 6-8 junior Xavier Tillman and 6-7 junior James Beck, doesn’t appear to have affected chemistry. It helps to have a D1 point guard, sophomore Duane Washington, massaging the reins. GR Christian was the O-K White champion, and opens with the O-K Green champ, 14-6 Byron Center. Byron Center’s top player, 6-4 junior Brayden Smith, recently committed to WMU for football.

Class B: Districts from hell

Wayland junior Avery Hudson and his seemingly limitless range will try to knock off defending state champ Godwin Heights on Monday.
Wayland junior Avery Hudson and his seemingly limitless range will try to knock off defending state champ Godwin Heights on Monday.

Here are some of the state’s most competitive and entertaining Class B districts for the MHSAA tournament, which opens Monday.

Harper Woods
Class B is weak overall, so when you have a couple decent Detroit PSL teams likely meeting in one semifinal though Osborn is 9-10 and Denby 11-7 they’d be the favorites in a lot of places. The other semifinal will probably be 16-3 St. Clair Shores South Lake and 12-6 Chandler Park Academy. Both have all-state candidates, Chandler Park’s 6-3 senior Jalen Martin and South Lake’s junior guard Ricky Dixon.

Lansing Catholic is led by 6-7 senior all-state candidate Tony Poljan, 17-1 and in the semifinals will look to avenge last year’s district upset to Fowlerville. 16-3 Williamston has all-state candidate senior guard Riley Lewis with an opening round bye. Monday’s opening game features a young Sexton team that has taken its lumps all year and 10-9 Perry.

This district has some of the best looking records in Class B, as 16-4 Yale opens with 16-3 Richmond, with the winner facing 17-3 Imlay City. Yale and Richmond split in the regular season; Yale and Imlay City also split; while Imlay City swept Richmond. Yale has the best player in the gym, senior all-state candidate guard Cody Kegley.

Grand Rapids South Christian
The district championship will really be played at 7:30 Monday, with a state semifinal-caliber matchup of 17-2 Wayland and 17-3 Godwin Heights, the defending Class B champion. They played a terrific game in last year’s districts, at Godwin. 6-7 Wayland junior Zack Niewkoop will be a tough cover for the shorter Wolverines, while Godwin Heights has the advantage in depth. There are a couple of point machines in the backcourts, with Wayland junior Avery Hudson and Godwin sophomore Lamar Norman.

The host school is 18-2 and has a high school Ben Wallace in 6-8 senior Dylan Patton and an athletic senior shooting guard Zac Latter. The open with 11-9 Olivet, with breakout 6-2 junior Delbert Redfield. Eaton Rapids will play that winner, while the other semifinal is 15-5 Stockbridge against one-win (!) Lumen Christi.

Guard play will be the call of the day in one semifinal where 16-3 Dowagiac awaits 14-4 Benton Harbor. At 6-10, senior Braden Burke is the matchup with no answer here from 12-7 Stevensville Lakeshore.

Bank Hoops Players of the Week, 11

Dearborn Advanced Tech's 6-7 senior DeYuan Heard is one of Michigan's top available 2017 prospects.
Dearborn Advanced Tech’s 6-7 senior DeYuan Heard is one of Michigan’s top available 2017 prospects.

Class A Player of the Week
Brandon Allen  5-9  Sr  Haslett
: Twice last week a 5-9 guard became his school’s all-time scorer. Junior Demetrius Lake did it at Holland, and so did Brandon Allen for Haslett, reaching 1,629 for his career with games of 14 against Lansing Waverly and 20 against Fowlerville.

Class A Underclassman of the Week
Zach Winston  6-1  So  Detroit U-D Jesuit
: A valuable bench player for the state’s top team because he can both defend and shoot, Winston made all four of his three-pointers in the Catholic League final against De La Salle.

Class B Player of the Week
DeYuan Heard  6-7  Sr  Dearborn Advanced Tech: He is one of the most intriguing 2016 college-eligible prospects still out there, lanky and skilled like he’ll only get better. And he’s already pretty good, with 36 points and 14 rebounds against Warren Michigan Collegiate. He’s averaging 25 and 13 a game.

Class B Underclassman of the Week
Lamar Norman  6-2  So  Wyoming Godwin Heights
: Because he did this.

Class C Player of the Week
Kaleb Barrett  6-3  Jr  Carson City Crystal: His 10 three-pointers were a school record and powered him to 41 points in a win against Ashley.

Class C Underclassman of the Week
Daniel Poole  6-0  So  East Jackson: He had a 50-point week with 23 against Grass Lake and career-best to date 27 against Michigan Center.

Class D Player of the Week
Colton Antes  5-11  Sr  Fulton
: His reputation is built on his sick shooting range. But Antes is a good all-around guard as evidenced against Laingsburg when he had 33 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Class D Underclassman of the Week
Noah Robak  6-1  Fr  Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes: The Robaks keep coming for Lakes. Noah scored 19 in the Catholic League semis against Cardinal Mooney, then had 10 in a loss to Royal Oak Shrine at Calihan Hall.