In Play with Tom Markowski


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Benton Harbor wins district title, looks toward a regional title and a possible state semifinal appearance

By: Tom Markowski, March 9, 2015, 5:00 pm

Benton Harbor – This could be the season the team that has boasted two of the state’s top players for the past three seasons finally gets their chance to play on the big stage.

Benton Harbor has yet to advance to the semifinals with the Gondrezick sisters, Kalabrya and Kysre, leading the team.

Benton Harbor (17-5) has won eight straight and will play Sturgis (11-11) in a Class B regional semifinal at Hopkins on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Kalabrya Gondrezick is a Miss Basketball finalist who is averaging 17.8 points, eight assists and 7.8 rebounds.

Kysre Gondrezick is a junior who is averaging 30 points per game.

The knock against the Tigers has not been the play of these two fine players. It’s the lack of depth and the lack proven role players at Benton Harbor that has prevented the Tigers from being viewed as a serious contender for a state title.

Coach Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick, and the mother of the sisters, said that criticism no longer holds weight.

“I’ve been building for the postseason,” Harvey-Gondrezick said. “The other players have come along. It’s not KG-squared anymore.

“Juwana Young has picked up her scoring. Gabriele Dortch has come a long way since transferring in last year. And Dennee Brown is our x-factor. She can make the three and she can finish. She’s been our best all-around defender.”

Brown, a 5-6 senior, had 15 points and four rebounds in a 76-53 victory over Berrien Springs in a district semifinal.

The Gondrezicks have done their part, too. Kalabrya had 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in a 70-59 victory over Buchanan in a district final last Friday. Kysre had 61 points in the two district games.    

Benton Harbor defeated Three Rivers in a regional semifinal last season and everything points to the Tigers making a return trip to a regional final. Pick: Benton Harbor by 12.

Other top regional semifinals

Class A

Birmingham Marian (21-1) vs. Southfield-Lathrup (21-1) at Southfield, 5:30: Marian ran past Southfield-Lathrup 65-30 in a regional semifinal last season. This promises to be a more tightly-contested contest. Southfield-Lathrup is ranked No. 2 and it must limit its turnovers to stay with the top-ranked Mustangs. Pick: Marian by 8.

Ann Arbor Huron (20-2) vs. DeWitt (21-2) at Portage Central, 6: Huron, ranked No. 5, lost in a regional semifinal last season and the River Rats are determined that their season won’t end in this round in back-to-back seasons. Pick: Huron y 3.

Detroit King (21-1) at Grosse Pointe South (18-4), 7: King lost in a regional final last season and, in the same region, South lost in a regional semifinal. Even with home court advantage, just can’t see South matching King’s athleticism and depth. Pick: King by 7.


Class C

Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (19-3) vs. Blissfield (22-1) at Whitmore Lake, 7: As difficult as Arbor Prep’s regular season schedule was, its district competition was nonexistent. Blissfield, ranked No. 6, will have its hands full with Arbor Prep’s swarming defense. Pick: Arbor Prep by 7.

Class D


Munising (21-1) vs. Bark River-Harris (21-2) at Kingsford, 7:45: These teams met on Jan. 13 and No. 3-ranked Munising defeated No. 4 Bark River-Harris, 56-53. Pick: Munising by 2.