Regional Round: Best small school opening games

Class C

Flint Hamady
Detroit Cornerstone 11-9 vs Flint Beecher 20-2, 7:30 pm:
Beecher survived a rare postseason test in their district opener with Flint Hamady then won their next two by 85 points. Cornerstone has the most talented player in the entire division, 6-6 junior Jamal Cain. He’s an elite prospect, but is he yet a leader, winner and champion? This would be a great proving ground for those traits.

At 6 pm another team with legitimate state finals aspirations, 20-1 Southfield Christian, plays 15-6 Sandusky.

Manton
McBain 23-0 vs Beaverton 19-1, 7:30 pm:
This should follow course for Beaverton, who often come in with sexy records only to fall to a true North team. There’s a third hall of fame coach in the regional, Keith Haske whose 16-7 Traverse City St. Francis team plays 16-5 Tawas at 6 pm.

Ecorse
Detroit Loyola 18-5 vs Monroe St. Mary Catholic 21-1, 5:30 pm:
No break for Loyola, who just made it out of the toughest district in the state and now face one of the state’s top programs. Kind of like Beecher, Loyola won’t wow you in the layup line but once the game starts will beat you with a bunch of tough-minded guards. Monroe St. Mary graduated Bank Hoops’ 2015 Class C MVP, Bryce Windham, but went out and had one of the most successful regular seasons in school history. It helps that his old man is still around, as SMCC has won six district titles in Randy Windhams’ seven seasons as head coach. 6-3 Madonna signee Stephan Umfress plays with springs in his soles and second-semester eligible 6-7 junior Nick Welch is a double-double threat every time out. The second game features 17-4 Riverview Richard against 19-3 Adrian Madison.

Class D

Lansing Christian
Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 18-4 vs Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 17-6, 5 pm:
From the Class D non-rural variety, Catholic League runner-up and 2015 state semifinalist WOLL takes on perennial tough out ICB. Both have the luxury of leaning on all-state candidates are guard, the Lakers’ Andrew Kline and Inter-City Baptist’s Garrett Kraatz. In the second game 16-6 Novi Franklin Road Christian plays 13-9 Lansing Christian, whose record is somewhat deceiving giving how many Class B and C schools are on the schedule.

Traverse City Central
Frankfort 20-2 vs Bellaire 22-1, 6 pm: 
Both coaches have taken these schools to the Breslin in the past decade, Frankfort’s Reggie Manville and Bellaire’s Stan Sexton. Frankfort played the superior schedule this winter. The Panthers’ only losses were two Class C district champions — St. Francis by a point and McBain in OT — and they beat Class B, Benzie Central; Class C, Boyne City; and Class D, Buckley, district champions. This may be a Class D game, but there are three scholarship caliber players here with Bellaire junior Gabe Meriwether and Frankfort juniors Matt Loney and Jaylon Rogers.

Neguanee
Powers North Central 23-0 vs Lake Linden-Hubbell 22-1, 6 pm:
North Central entertained everyone at last year’s state finals, and could be even better this year. Their district semifinal opponent, Nah Tah Wahsh, wouldn’t argue that, after falling last week 113-25. But they’ll have earned it if they get out of the UP again, as North Central, Lake Linden-Hubbell and Crystal Falls Forest Park are all top 10 teams. In the late game, 21-2 Crystal Falls Forest Parks meets 13-9 Rock Mid-Peninsula.

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