Girls Basketball State Tournament Preview features some of the usual suspects plus a few shockers
The 43rd girls basketball tournament tips off Monday and events in the last week have altered some of the thought process as to which teams are clear favorites. There are teams thought once to be contenders that are now longshots and there are others that received no more than a passing thought in December that have now garnered consideration as a Final Four participant.
Defending champion Birmingham Marian was thought to be a sure bet to repeat two week ago but after the Mustangs were taken to the limit by Detroit King, at home no less, perhaps Marian winning the title isn’t such a sure thing after all.
After losing its first four game Salem has won 16 straight including a double overtime victory over previously unbeaten Waterford Kettering on Thursday.
Could Salem match what sister school Canton did last season and be a surprise state finalist?
Katlyn Brownlee, a transfer from Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, has solidified an Ann Arbor Huron team this season. Huron is a well-balanced team sure to give any team problems in this class.
Look for Huron to survive a competitive region that’ll include state-ranked DeWitt and Kalamazoo Central and face a surprise Wyoming team in the quarterfinals. Wyoming will upset Grand Rapids Christian in a regional semifinal and will beat Muskegon Mona Shores in the final.
Back to Salem. Coach Lindsey Klemmer has done a tremendous job keeping the Rocks together after a 0-4 start. Salem has won 16 straight and will face Plymouth in Monday’s district opener. Salem defeated Plymouth 50-30 last Tuesday. This one should be much closer. This is a highly competitive district at Novi with no team under the .500 mark.
Look for Salem to move on and face Holly in a regional semifinal. In the other side Howell should get past White Lake Lakeland in a regional semifinal and play Salem in the final. We predict Salem will defeat Howell and move on to the quarterfinals.
The other regional in this bracket appears to be more cut and dry. Midland Dow should get past unbeaten Marquette in one semifinal and face another unbeaten team, Flushing, in the final with Flushing moving on to the quarterfinals.
The regional at Southfield will feature No. 1 Marian against No. 2 Southfield-Lathrup. Marian will pull away in the second half and face a familiar foe in Farmington Hills Mercy in a regional final. Marian defeats Mercy for the third time this season to reach the quarterfinals.
The regional at Sterling Heights Stevenson will have Kettering in the final against Port Huron Northern. Kettering, re-focused after its loss to Salem, defeats Northern to move on to the quarterfinals.
The Dearborn regional is perhaps one of the weakest and we should have Temperance Bedford claiming the title and the Kicking Mules will be rewarded by facing Detroit King in a quarterfinal. It won’t be a cake walk for the Detroit Public School League champions as they will face Grosse Pointe South in a regional semifinal followed by Warren Cousino in the final.
Semifinalist: A.A. Huron, Flushing, Marian, King
2014 champion: Marian
This class was extremely competitive this season. Quality teams like Dearborn Heights Robichaud, Dearborn Divine Child and unbeaten Spring Lake were left out of the top 10.
Though Goodrich (19-1) was ranked No. 1 most of the season it might not survive its region.
Led by sisters Kalabrya and Kysre Gondrezick, Benton Harbor began the season ranked No. 2 overall. The Tigers slipped a bit in the early going then finished strong and by season’s end made it back to the top 10. Look for Benton Harbor to face unbeaten Plainwell in a regional final and advance to the quarterfinals.
The other bracket is less formidable and perhaps more difficult to predict. Flat Rock shouldn’t have much trouble reaching a regional final where it will play Chelsea. This game is a toss-up but we like Flat Rock defeating Chelsea in a low-scoring game to advance to the quarterfinals.
Once-beaten Wayland Union, led by Miss Basketball candidate Presley Hudson, should have little trouble getting past Alma in a regional semifinal but the task in the final will be more imposing. Once-beaten Williamston will squeak past Haslett in a district opener then defeat Portland in a regional semifinal. Wayland survives a scare in a regional final to reach the quarterfinals.
The other region in this bracket, at Charlotte, could well be the best in this class. Spring Lake will lose at the buzzer to Sparta and Grand Rapids Catholic Central, ranked No. 2, will be tested by Holland Christian before defeating Sparta to reach the quarterfinals.
Let’s cut to the chase. The Caro region will come down to Goodrich and unbeaten Midland Bullock Creek. This will match Wayland-Williamston for excitement and Goodrich wins to reach the quarterfinals.
It will face once-beaten Manistee, which will have no problem getting past Big Rapids and Kalkaska in the regionals.
In the regional at Divine Child, Robichaud will defeat Livonia Ladywood in the final and reach the quarterfinals where the Bulldogs will play Detroit Country Day. The Yellowjackets will breeze through St. Clair Shores South Lake and Marysville in the regionals.
Semifinalists: Benton Harbor, Wayland, Goodrich, Country Day
2014 champion: Eaton Rapids
As many as seven or eight teams have a legitimate shot at the title in this class.
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep is a program in its infancy yet finished ranked No. 1 despite losing three games.
Laingsburg and Gobles both finished undefeated but neither played a schedule as adventurous as that of Arbor Prep.
It doesn’t look like a representative from the Upper Peninsula will make it to the Breslin Center but if one does look for Norway to be it. Norway should defeat Ishpeming in a regional final and reach the quarterfinals.
In the other bracket Traverse City St. Francis should be tested by Leroy Pine River is a regional semifinal then dispose of Beaverton in the final to reach the quarterfinals.
The Scottville Mason County Central region should feature an intriguing semifinal pitting Kent City, which spent a month or two in the top 10, against Laingsburg. Laingsburg will advance to face Morley-Stanwood and reach the quarterfinals.
Niles Brandywine’s only loss was in double overtime at Class A Kalamazoo Central. The Bobcats will defeat Decatur in a regional semifinal then defeat Grandville Calvin Christian in a closely-contested game to reach the quarterfinals.
The best region is likely the one hosted by Whitmore Lake. Arbor Prep gets past a weak district and will play once-beaten and No. 6-ranked Blissfield. Blissfield’s crowd will be out in force but Arbor Prep will be victorious and face No. 2-ranked Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the final. Arbor Prep’s toughness and quickness is too much and it advances to the quarterfinals.
In the other bracket look for Bronson to advance past Manchester in a regional final.
Flint Hamady has been ranked in the top 10 all season and will easily reach the quarterfinals.
In the other bracket Saginaw Nouvel will defeat Ithaca, a two-loss team, in a regional semifinal then get past No. 9-ranked Unionville-Sebewaing Area in a regional final.
Semifinalists: St. Francis, Laingsburg, Arbor Prep, Nouvel
Champion: Arbor Prep
2014 champion: Nouvel
Catholic schools have won each of the last five titles and with Mont Pleasant Sacred Heart ranked No. 1 this season it’s quite possible we could see the streak continue.
Sacred Heart lost five games last season and it’s lost four this season.
Sacred Heart defeated Crystal Falls Forest Park, 56-53, in last season’s final and, with Munising and Bark River-Harris ranked in the top five, it would not be a surprise to have a U.P. team in the final again.
But there is a difference this time around. St. Ignace LaSalle, a finalist in Class C last season, is in Class D this time and the Saints are ranked in the top 10.
Undefeated Pittsford has never reached a state final but look for the Wildcats to reach the quarterfinals with victories over Hillsdale Academy and Battle Creek St. Philip in the regionals.
The other bracket is up for grabs. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian should get past Climax-Scotts in a semifinal then receive a severe test from St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran in the final before prevailing.
Kingston spent some weeks in the top 10 and it should advance past Burton St. Thomas More in a regional final. In the other bracket Bloomfield Hills Roeper played well the last two months and will be favored to get past Waterford Lakes and Taylor Baptist Park in the regionals.
One of the top regional finals should take place at Buckley. Once-beaten Frankfort will play once-beaten Bellaire and look for Frankfort to come out on top. In the other bracket Sacred Heart will breeze past Manistee Catholic Central before facing a Portland St. Patrick team used to playing good competition. Sacred Heart will survive to play in a quarterfinal.
At Rudyard St. Ignace will likely be challenged by both Cedarville and Hillman in the regionals before advancing. At Kingsford the Munising-Bark River regional semifinal should be a dandy. Munising survives and faces Forest Park in another closely-contested game and this time it’s Munising that reaches the quarterfinal.
Semifinalists: Pittsford, Kingston, Sacred Heart, St. Ignace
Champion: St. Ignace
2014 champion: Sacred Heart