State Tournament: Top Regional Semifinals

No regional in the state has four better teams than at Gull Lake, where Holt and Jaron Faulds face Kalamazoo Central, and East Lansing plays Battle Creek Central. The 6-10 senior averages 17 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.

Class A

20-3 Macomb Dakota vs. 22-1 Clarkston, 5 pm @ Grand Blanc: Dakota has had unprecedented postseason success with senior Jermaine Jackson at point guard, while Clarkston is in search of that elusive first state championship. Dakota has a triumvirate of D1 recruits, and Clarkston likely does too, but Dakota’s are all upperclassmen with Jackson, 6-9 senior Jack Ballantyne and 6-8 junior MSU commitment Thomas Kithier.

21-2 Flushing vs. 19-4 Saginaw, 7 pm @ Mt. Pleasant: How deep is Saginaw? It had talented senior guard Qua Southward come off the bench in the Trojans’ district title win over Arthur Hill. Saginaw will have to deal with Flushing’s 6-6 senior Joe Kujat on the blocks. Saginaw was annihilated by Carman-Ainsworth in the Saginaw Valley final, while Flushing squeaked past Carman in their district.

19-3 Kalamazoo Central vs. 19-4 Holt, 5:30 pm @ Gull Lake: It will be an AAU reunion on the paint. Kalamazoo Central’s Michigan signee Isaiah Livers played with Holt center Jaron Faulds, who is headed to Columba, last summer with Chicago Mean Streets.

23-0 East Lansing vs. 19-3 Battle Creek Central, 7 pm @ Gull Lake: Same as it has been for decades, or at least since we were watching Marc White, Kenyon Murray and company on the Channel 41 Game of the Week, the Bearcats are athletic and will pressure you. East Lansing lives by the 3 and … they’ve living well. The Trojans are undefeated. And when junior forward Brandon Johns turns it on, no one in Michigan can hang with him.

23-0 Grand Rapids Christian vs. 23-0 Muskegon, 7:30 pm @ Grand Haven: This is a rematch of last year’s regional semi, when Muskegon’s blue-collar toughness wore down GRC. The Eagles have the advantage in talent and height. The Big Reds’ advantage is on the bench, in coaching and depth. Muskegon has three of the state’s top available seniors, 6-5 Sam Cornett, 6-4 Jermayne Golidy and 6-5 Markell Jackson. It doesn’t get any easier in the regional final, where one-loss West Ottawa likely awaits.

20-2 Belleville vs. 18-4 Romulus, 6 pm @ Wayne: They knocked each other out of districts recently, but will do it at the regional level this time. Romulus has been quietly doing their thing then really turned heads late in the regular season with a win over Kalamazoo Central. Romulus junior Kaevon Merriwether is a power point guard, but Belleville has the rare player to match up physically in its own junior guard Davion Williams. It may come down to if Belleville’s talented 6-7 junior Gabe Brown plays smart, and is Romulus’ sweet shooting senior Dylan Price is knocking down jumpers.

Class B

18-3 Detroit Northwestern vs. 15-7 Hazel Park, 7:30 pm @ Livonia Clarenceville: Northwestern was a semifinalist in the Detroit PSL. Senior guard Kylan Shipp is capable of going off and 6-2 Steve Pearson is an athletic powerhouse for a freshman. There’s a ton of experience on the bench, with assistants like BCAM hall of famer Glen Donahue and former U-D star Tony Tolbert. Hazel Park junior Carl Bow is coming off a 40-point game in their district final and backcourt mate David Hearns, also a junior, is a tough penetrating point guard. Over just the last three months HP’s 6-10 senior Kristian Lafayette has really improved, a slender defensive presence who can run the floor.

13-10 Detroit Henry Ford vs. 14-9 Detroit Osborn, 7:30 pm @ Livonia Clarenceville: Henry Ford still reigns as the state champion until they’re knocked out. Hopefully not literally, given how Osborn’s regular season ended.

22-1 Wyoming Godwin Heights vs. 19-4 Williamston, 6 pm @ Ionia: 2015 state champion is looking to avenge last year’s regional loss to Williamston, who parlayed that win into a trip to the state final. Godwin couldn’t cool off Riley Lewis is that one. He moved on to Hope College but Williamston is a more balanced team this season. They’ll have to get back on D and establish tempo to have a chance, easier said than done against Godwin’s stable of athletes and jockey Christian Rodriguez. This is the kind of game where a scholarship offer could be earned in the paint. Will it be the Wolverines’ 6-6 junior Markese Hastings or Willie’s 6-6 soph Sean Cobb?

Class C

23-0 Michigan Center vs. 22-0 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 6 pm @ Hudson: Did the ink-stained wretches of the AP finally get around to ranking Michigan Center? And you wonder why no one trusts the MSM! MC is just a great team. They¬†defend, share the ball and have multiple shooting threats. SMCC just keeps rolling under Randy Windham. They’ll have the advantage in the paint with 6-7 senior Nick Welch and 6-8 junior CJ Haut.

19-3 Warren Michigan Collegiate vs. 11-10 Detroit Edison, 7:30 pm @ Madison Hts. Bishop Foley: One has to look beyond the records here. Michigan Collegiate’s is more impressive upon first glance, but that’s done in the Betsy DeVos league, aka against charter schools. Against the big boys, like River Rouge and New Haven, they haven’t fared so well. Edison, meanwhile, was taking its lumps in the PSL and didn’t have standout junior point guard PJ Mitchell for the entire season. He’s back and looking to do what he did last year at Detroit Loyola — get to East Lansing.

18-4 Manton vs. 18-4 Maple City Glen Lake, 6 pm @ Houghton Lake: No one expected Manton to get past unbeaten McBain in the district final. Except the Rangers themselves and, well, Bank Hoops, which tabbed Manton as a Class F final four team two months ago. While it revolves around junior point guard Jayden Perry, Manton has different guys who will be the main scorers on any given night. Glen Lake, meanwhile, has to have its Big 2 of 6-3 sophomore Xander Okerlund, a MAC basketball prospect, and 6-5 junior Cade Peterson, a MAC QB prospect, may have to approach 50 points to win.

Class D

17-6 Hillsdale Academy vs. 15-7 Plymouth Christian, 5 pm @ Lansing Christian: Hillsdale Academy could win this one … if 6-7 senior Peter Kalthoff scored 50 against like he did in the district final. If not, Plymouth Christian likely has too much depth with 6-4 junior Matt Malcom averaging 17 ponits, 6-5 junior Max Okolo 13 points and 10 rebounds and junior guard Levi Yakuber 10.5 points and 7 assists per game.

18-4 Bay City All-Saint vs. 15-7 Fowler, 7:30 pm @ Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary: Fowler’s record is somewhat deceptive as they play in a rugged, Class C-dominant league. Their bookend 6-7 fowards, 1,000-point senior Jeremy Pung and junior Mason Pline, who could be a small school Charles Barkley if dialed in and not floating, are rare for the Class D level.

 

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