State playoff preview: State Champs looks at contenders/pretenders in D-1 and D-2
(PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Donoher)
Even though Detroit Cass Tech and Detroit Catholic Central have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for most of the season there are a number of other Division 1 teams that have a legitimate shot at a state title.
Today State Champs will take a look at the race for the Division 1 and Division 2 titles, singling out teams that we deem as contenders and those that are pretenders.
If snooze2you isn’t sleeping on the job then fans will be cheated out of seeing Cass Tech and C.C. not only play for a state title but in the semifinal round as well. Snooze has the top-ranked teams in the same region (Region 2).
Let’s take that as a given and let’s look at the other three regions to find our contenders.
Region 1 features teams from the Grand Rapids area and Livingston County, plus Saline and Grand Ledge. It’s too bad, and perhaps avoidable in the future, but District 1 could have four O-K Red Division members. Grandville, Hudsonville and Rockford all must be considered contenders. All have played a competitive schedule and have players they can rely on to make big plays at key points.
Saline is the favorite to escape District 2 in Region 1 and play the survivor of District 1.
Grand Ledge, a semifinalist last season, has had a number of nail biters against teams near the .500 mark and doesn’t appear to have what it takes to make another long run, hence, the Comets are a pretender.
Watching Dearborn Fordson and Dearborn play last Friday it was apparent these teams can play with just about any team in the state. Unfortunately they will likely get stuck with Cass Tech, which isn’t just any team so, again, Dearborn and Fordson can’t be taken as a serious contender.
The same can be said of Northville and Canton (teams that will play each other this week). If they’re stuck in the same district as C.C., which is likely, neither will advance past the district.
Not sure what to make of Region 3 and Region 4. Other than Utica Eisenhower no team really stands out. Clarkston, Davison and possibly Macomb Dakota all have a shot to make it to the finals but to say they have a good shot at a state title would be a stretch. The other 12 teams are pretenders. Take a team like Dearborn or Canton or Grandville and place any one or all three of them in either Region 3 or Region 4 and they would have a good shot of advancing to a semifinal or beyond.
There seems to be just five contenders for the Division 2 title. In the past this division often would be more competitive, and played at a higher level, than Division 1. Not this season.
The contenders are Birmingham Groves, Detroit King, Lowell, Temperance Bedford and Walled Lake Western.
Just behind these five we’ll list Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Oak Park, Portage Central, Traverse City Central and U-D Jesuit. These five have shown an inconsistency not commonly associated with teams that make long playoff runs.
A dark horse here must be Birmingham Brother Rice. The Warriors lack offensive punch but their defense, especially if the weather turns cold and soggy, could be good enough to spring an upset or two.