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Nothing given, everything earned: Conference showdowns

Tuesday, Jan. 9
Chelsea at Ypsilanti: The favorites in the SEC-White, where both schools are 2-0 and 5-0 overall. This has been a breakout campaign for Ypsi’s Josh Perkins, a 6-6 senior post player. Like most of Steve Brooks’ teams, Ypsilanti earns its rep on the defensive end where it has held four of five opponents to fewer than 30 points.
Detroit Pershing at East English Village: The PSL-East is as rugged a division as there is in Michigan, case in point here were EEV has proven capable of beating anyone in the state — Clarkston — but is in danger of going 1-2 in the conference if don’t show up against a Pershing squad that is Class C in name only.
Grand Rapids South Christian at Grand Rapids Christian: These O-K Gold rivals are a year removed from state title contention — Christian in Class A in 2017 and South in Class B in 2019. South has the wing size to match up with the Eagles’ 6-5 senior Setrick Millner.
Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart at Ashley: Ashley is 3-0 in the Mid-State Athletic Conference and SHA is 2-1. The Bears’ lone loss was in the season opener by three to Portland St. Patrick and they’ve been rolling since. Ashley has a tough high-low combo in 6-7 senior Nick Sperling and 6-2 senior Colin Dolloff who is averaging a double-double. SHA has a talented 20-a-game junior guard in Colton Nelson.
Manton at McBain: Manton finally got the McBain Monkey off its back in last year’s state tournament. Now the Rangers will see if they can do it in the regular season. Which is no easy task, as personnel comes and goes but with Bruce Koopman on the sideline it’s been nearly impossible to win at McBain.
Maple City Glen Lake at Buckley: This is Buckley’s third game against a top 10 Class C team — the Bears lost the two previous on the road to Kalamazoo Hackett and McBain. The Northwest Conference is top-heavy with future college talent, and it’s apparent in this one with Glen Lake junior Xander Okerlund and sophomore Reece Hazelton, and Buckley seniors Denver Cade and Austin Harris.
River Rouge at Ecorse: The MMAC-Blue is “low key” a pretty tough league. These are two of the three members currently undefeated, along with Harper Woods, plus there’s a Big Ten big man in Trevion Williams at Detroit Henry Ford Academy for Creative Studies. Rouge is tough and not going anywhere under coach Mark White, as two-way guard Javion Torrance-Jackson is the only senior starter. River Rouge has played a much tougher schedule, so this is Ecorse’s chance to gain some believers.
Watervliet at Coloma: The home team is 5-0 and the lone unbeaten in the SWAC Lakeshore, where Watervliet is a game out. Coloma has one of the top three point guards in Michigan in the 2019 class, Zach Goodline, while the ‘Vliet has his AAU teammate 6-10 Dan Cluster is a top five available post in the senior class.

Wayne Memorial at Westland John Glenn: They sit on opposite ends of the KLAA-Black, Wayne on top and the Rockets grounded. But this is an intra-district rivalry and on John Glenn’s home floor, so it could be quite competitive. To the Moon, baby!

Thursday, Jan. 11
Frankfort at Buckley: No rest for the wicked as Buckley goes from a top 10 Class C team to another NWC contest this time against a top 10 Class D team Frankfort. How good is Frankfort’s 6-3 senior Matt Loney? He held Hazel Park star Carl Bow to a goose egg in an AAU contest last April.

Fulton at Fowler: Fowler is a top 10 team in Class D, undefeated both overall and in perennially the state’s toughest small-school league the CMAC. Seemingly forever undersized, Fulton will look to out-gun its rival.

Friday, Jan. 12
Ann Arbor Pioneer at Ann Arbor Skyline: Even early these are the lone undefeateds remaining in the SEC-Red. It’s a brutal stretch for Pioneer, which is at Belleville on Tuesday, then at Pioneer and on the road against Ann Arbor Huron the following Friday.
Detroit King at Detroit Pershing: It’s a twice-a-week grind in the arduous PSL-East. The Doughboys could conceivably be coming off three straight losses. MLK has one of our favorite unsigned seniors, 6-4 Antonio Marshall, who could be a less beefy, less shooting Eric Williams, the A-10’s top freshman for Duquesne via New Haven.
East English Village at Detroit Edison: These teams have lost five games between them but not for lack of talent, just reflective of highly competitive schedules. DEPSA can afford for one of its D1 seniors to have an off afternoon, because there are two others. East English doesn’t have that luxury with David DeJulius.
East Lansing at Holt: The Trojans are aiming for a third straight undefeated regular season. This week could be a challenging stretch in the CAAC-Blue against would-be contenders Grand Ledge and Holt. Everyone knows about Michigan-bound forward Brandon Johns for East Lansing. But how about this quick-on-quick senior point guard matchup with EL’s Malik Jones, who is headed to Aquinas, and Holt’s Caleb Cooper.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at Detroit U-D Jesuit: This is the Catholic League opener for U-D, which has weathered early personnel losses via transfers out West and the Cubs two losses are to top 10 Class A teams, East English and Hazel Park. And it’s not like they’re lacking for talent with senior guard Zach Winston having a strong season and Daniel Friday emerging as one of the top guard prospects in the 2019 class. It’s back-to-back tough league contests for OLSM, which is at home against undefeated Catholic Central on Tuesday.

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