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Boys Basketball Quarterfinal Picks: U-D picked to reach fourth consecutive semifinal

By: Tom Markowski, March 19, 2017, 8:14 pm

Lansing – The best matchup in Class A, and perhaps the state, when top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian (25-0) plays Kalamazoo Central (21-3) in a quarterfinal at Lansing Eastern on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Xavier Tillman, a Mr. Basketball candidate who signed with Michigan State, leads Christian but this is not a one-player team. Duane Washington is a junior point guard who’s been offered a number of Division I scholarships. James Beck is a 6-7 forward who signed with Detroit and Emmett Warners, son of coach Mark Warners, is a 6-5 forward. Add to this the perimeter play of Thad Shymanski, a senior who made the game-winning shot in a 59-56 victory over Holland West Ottawa, and you have a well-balanced team.

Central is led by Isaiah Livers, a 6-8 forward who signed with Michigan. The Maroon Giants thumped No. 2-ranked East Lansing, 75-60, in a region final. Rog Stein (6-5) is capable of recording a double-double in any game.

Central is attempting to win its first title since 2011. Christian last won a title (Class B) in 1938. Christian did reach the Class A semifinal in 2013. Pick: Christian by 3.

All quarterfinal games are Tuesday.

Class A

Romulus (20-4) vs. U-D Jesuit (20-3) at Calihan Hall, 5: Here are teams that have each won a title in the last four years. Romulus is a young team. Six of its top players are juniors. U-D has a mix of seniors and underclassmen. The key to this game could be the play of U-D sophomore point guard Julian Dozier. Pick: U-D by 5.

Troy (21-4) vs. West Bloomfield (16-8) at Calihan Hall, 7: The last time Troy reached a quarterfinal was in 1989 when the Colts lost to Detroit Southwestern, which was led by Jalen Rose, Voshon Lenard and Howard Eisley. Troy coach Gary Fralick was an assistant coach that season. This will be his first quarterfinal as a head coach. West Bloomfield upset Detroit Southeastern in a 2003 quarterfinal to reach the semifinals. That was the Lakers last appearance in this round. West Bloomfield defeated Troy, 64-61, in an Oakland Activities Association crossover on Feb. 9. Pick: W. Bloomfield by 4.

Clarkston (24-1) vs. Saginaw (21-4) at Davison, 7:30: Many are speculating that this could be the season Clarkston wins a state title. After whipping Macomb Dakota, 68-48, last Monday the road appear to be clear for the Wolves to reach its first state final. Pick: Clarkston by 11.


Class B

Benton Harbor (21-3) vs. Spring Lake (19-6) at Caledonia, 7: So which one of you had Spring Lake in your quarterfinal bracket? At least Benton Harbor was a team on many lists. Pick: Benton Harbor by 3.

Detroit Osborn (16-9) vs. New Haven (24-1) at Marysville, 7: Having two teams from the Detroit Public School League in the quarterfinals is on par. What is strange is that these two teams are Osborn and Detroit Edison. Romeo Weems is ready to go for New Haven and the Rockets move on. Pick: New Haven by 6.

Lake Fenton (19-6) vs. Ludington (23-2) at Mount Pleasant, 7: Ludington beat Big Rapids twice this season. I had Big Rapids in the semifinals. Pick: Ludington by 4.

River Rouge (23-1) vs. Williamston (21-4) at Chelsea, 7: Williamston upset Wyoming Godwin Heights in a region semifinal. River Rouge backcourt is the best in this class and will prove it again here. Pick: River Rouge by 6.


Class C

Beaverton (20-5) vs. Flint Beecher (20-5) at Bay City Central, 7: Beaverton won its fifth region title under Roy Johnston, the state’s winningest coach. Beecher is looking to win its third consecutive title and fifth in the last six seasons. Pick: Beecher by 15.

Detroit Edison (11-11) vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (24-0) at Tecumseh, 6: Edison lost four of five entering the tournament but upset Detroit Pershing in the districts and did the same to Detroit Cornerstone in a region final. Go figure. St. Mary C.C. has played at a consistent level all season. Pick: St. Mary C.C. by 7.

Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (19-5) vs. Kalamazoo Christian (18-7) at Holland West Ottawa, 7:30:  Never mind the losses for these teams. Both play a highly competitive schedule. Pick: Covenant Christian by 1.       

Manton (20-4) vs. Negaunee (20-4) at Petoskey, 7: This side of the bracket is not going as many had predicted. Pick: Negaunee by 2.


Class D

Hillman (24-1) vs. Powers North Central (25-0) at Sault Ste. Marie, 7: North Central had a close call against Dollar Bay (75-73) in a region semifinal. The Jets learned their lesson. Pick: North Central by 9.

Southfield Christian (20-5) vs. Fowler (17-7) at Imlay City, 7:30: This doesn’t appear to be much of a test for Christian but its March so…Pick: Christian by 8.

Lansing Christian (18-6) vs. Benton Harbor Dream Academy (10-5) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, 7: Christian has a beat on making a trip near its home. Pick: Christian by 7.

Buckley (24-0) vs. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (16-8) at Cadillac, 7: Buckley is not your traditional power. Christian is. I still like the way Buckley has played this season. The past is just that. It’s in the past. Pick: Buckley by 4.