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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.