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Boys Basketball Quarterfinal Picks: Midland in for 1st time since ’79

By: Tom Markowski, March 21, 2016, 6:47 pm




Midland – Those of us who remember Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent and others taking on Larry Byrd and Indiana State in the NCAA National Championship game might remember the last time Midland High won a regional title.

Michigan State won the NCAA title in 1979, the same year Midland played its last quarterfinal.

The Spartans won’t win another title this season but the Chemics (17-6) will play in their second quarterfinal when Midland plays No. 2-ranked Macomb Dakota (25-0) on Tuesday at Grand Blanc at 7 p.m.

The winner advances to Friday’s Class A semifinal against the winner of U-D Jesuit and Ypsilanti.

Last season Midland was 17-8 and lost in a regional final to Saginaw Arthur Hill. Last Wednesday the Chemics played the other public school in Saginaw, Saginaw High, and won, 60-56, at Bay City Central.

Coach Eric Krause’s team split with Saginaw during the Saginaw Valley Association season and he said a key factor was that his team was able to match Saginaw’s intensity.

“Once we got passed their pressure, we could score down low,” Krause said. “It was more about us holding our poise. They took some quick shots.”

Midland was again led by its senior point guard Payton DeWildt (6-1). DeWildt, who was named co-MVP of the Saginaw Valley, had 24 points in the region final.

DeWildt is a four-year varsity player. He was the sixth man his freshman season and has been a starter since. He suffered an upper body injury late this season but returned for the district semifinal. Good thing he did. Midland held on to defeat Mount Pleasant in that game, 49-48.

In a regional semifinal DeWildt had 20 points in a 61-59 victory over Traverse City West.

DeWildt plans on continuing his career in college but is undecided. He has received interest from Alma College and Lawrence Tech.

Midland’s other top players are senior Virgil Walker (6-5), a receiver on the football team, and two sophomores, Martin Money and Garrett Willis, both of whom played as freshmen.

Against Dakota Krause said his team must control the ball and dictate tempo.

“We know we’re the underdogs,” he said. “But we aren’t going to be shocked if we win. We certainly aren’t going to be afraid.

“Not all my guys have basketball as their main sport, and I like that. Money and Willis play baseball and Virgil’s brother is one of the top linebackers. I like our length. I like our competitiveness.” Pick: Dakota by 7.  


All games are at 7 p.m. on Tuesday unless otherwise noted.


Class A


Sterling Heights Stevenson (20-4) vs. North Farmington (22-2) at the University of Detroit: Guard play will decide this game. North Farmington uses a three-guard lineup. Stevenson will go with four guards. Pick: N. Farmington by 6.

U-D Jesuit (25-0) vs. Ypsilanti (22-1) at the University of Detroit: The game features two Mr. Basketball finalists, winner Cassius Winston of U-D and Corey Allen of Ypsilanti. U-D has the edge inside with Ike Eke and Greg Eboigbodin. Pick: U-D by 10.

Lansing Everett (15-10) vs. Hudsonville (19-5) at Lansing Eastern: Few had either of these teams going this far but Hudsonville had something to prove against Muskegon in the region final. Muskegon had eliminated the Eagles the three previous seasons in the regionals. Pick: Hudsonville by 4.


Class B

New Haven (22-2) vs. Detroit Henry Ford (17-6) at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore: This is a rematch of last season’s quarterfinal won by Henry Ford. Got to go with the Trojans again because of their superior guard play. Pick: Henry Ford by 11.

Williamston (20-3) vs. River Rouge (22-3) at Charlotte:  Williamston upset defending champion Wyoming Godwin Heights in the regionals and has played well all season. River Rouge trailed Onsted at halftime before prevailing in a tough regional final. Pick: Williamston by 1.

Essexville Garber (17-8) vs. Big Rapids (22-2) at Bay City Central: Garber is certainly the underdog but its March and anything can happen. Big Rapids was my pick to reach the semifinals before the tourney started and I’m sticking with that prediction. Pick: Big Rapids by 6.

Stevensville Lakeshore (18-7) vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian (16-8) at Vicksburg: Lakeshore last reached the Class B final in 2012, losing to Denzel Valentine and Lansing Sexton. Unity Christian last reached a state final in 1973. Lakeshore survived a more competitive region and is ready to take the next step. Pick: Lakeshore by 5.  


Class C


Kalamazoo Hackett (24-0) vs. Grandville Calvin Christian (19-4) at Bangor: Call it an upset if you like but Calvin Christian’s victory over Muskegon Heights Academy in a region final was impressive. Pick: Calvin Christian by 3.

McBain (25-0) vs. Ishpeming Westwood (12-12) at Petoskey: No Negaunee and no Iron Mountain, two top 10 teams? Westwood just doesn’t match up with a McBain team that features a balanced scoring attack. Pick: McBain by 14.  

Flint Beecher (22-2) vs. Ithaca (23-2) at Troy Athens: I would like to believe Ithaca can stay with the defending champions. And Ithaca fans are likely wondering who they got sent to Oakland County for this game. Pick: Beecher by 12.

Hanover-Horton (23-2) vs. Detroit Loyola (20-5) at Tecumseh: Loyola is not just a football school. Coach John Buscemi has had good teams in the past. This one is his best. Getting to the semifinals won’t be an easy task. Pick: Loyola by 1.

Class D

Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (20-4) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (17-7) at West Bloomfield: I was tempted to take Lansing Christian (took Lakes) to come out of this bracket. Wish I would have changed Xavier as my Final Four pick in the NCAAs, too. Pick: Lakes by 12.

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (19-5) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (17-6) at Coldwater: All year I ignored the losses on these two teams’ records (both finished ranked in the top 10). Note to coaches: play a competitive schedule. It will pay dividends later. Pick: Tri-unity Christian by 2.

Fulton (18-6) vs. Bellaire (24-1) at Traverse City West, 6: Yes, I had Fulton in my top 10 despite its six losses. When will people learn? A gaudy record does not always mean a team is worthy of a high ranking. Bellaire, ranked No. 3, will have its hands full here. Pick: Bellaire by 3.

Onaway (21-4) vs. Powers North Central (25-0) at Sault Ste. Marie: North Central has played few close games this season. This won’t be one, either. Pick: North Central by 18.