Boys Basketball Notes: Clarkston should repeat in Class A; Belleville could make first state final since 1988
Clarkston – Clarkston won its first state title last season and, with the majority of its team returning, the Wolves are the favorite to repeat.
Look for Clarkston to meet Belleville in the finals after defeating Cass Tech in a semifinal with Belleville getting by East Lansing on the other end. Cass Tech will have a tough district which includes No. 4-ranked Detroit East English Village Prep and No. 7 Detroit King. Belleville will more than likely have to get by No. 6 Ann Arbor Skyline in a quarterfinal and East Lansing’s road could very well have Kalamazoo Central, Muskegon or Holland West Ottawa in regional or quarterfinal games. Clarkston will more than likely have a second matchup with No. 8 Flint Carman-Ainsworth, a team the Wolves play at home this Friday.
King might have a few more losses than others in this top ten as the PSL’s Division I-East is the state’s top division with four ranked teams between Class A and C. No. 9-ranked Novi is no slouch and a regional matchup with Skyline is a strong possibility. No. 10-ranked Troy was a quarterfinalist last season and return three key seniors who will have to be on their game to beat Clarkston or West Bloomfield if the Colts are to take that next step.
In Class B New Haven is the defending champ but that won’t bring back Duquesne freshman Eric Williams who had a dominant senior season. The Rockets do have the state’s top junior, Romeo Weems, and return key players. River Rouge, however, will win a state title for the first time since 1999. Both will be tested in the semifinals when Rouge faces last year’s runner-up, No. 3-ranked Benton Harbor. New Haven will have to get by No. 5 Wyoming Godwin Heights in a semifinal. Godwin Heights’ front line matches up very well with the title holders. Look for Benton Harbor and No. 4 Williamston to meet in a quarterfinal. Godwin Heights and No. 7 Grand Rapids Catholic Central should make a great regional matchup. No. 6 Detroit Old Redford Academy might be a year away from becoming a serious challenger and will more than likely meet with Rouge in a regional game. No. 8 Detroit Henry Ford won the 2016 title and the Trojans have the guard play and depth to make another run. No. 9 Dearborn Divine Child will challenge for the Catholic League championship. No. 10 Ludington was last season’s state runner-up and the Orioles also return key players.
A Class C semifinalist last season, Detroit Edison will take the next steps for its first boys’ basketball championship. Edison is in the state’s top league (PSL) so don’t expect an unblemished record despite the talent. No. 2-ranked Flint Beecher has won five of the last six state titles and the Bucs need their talented sophomores to have the poise of the graduated players who won previous championships. Don’t expect No. 3 Detroit Pershing to repeat last season’s record. Playing in the PSL Division I-East along with Edison, a team the Doughboys will probably face three if not four times by mid-March. Manton will start at No. 4 and the Rangers fell to preseason No. 8 Grand Rapids Covenant Christian in a state semifinal. Look for No. 5 Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central to make a semifinal run where the Falcons will more than likely meet Edison. No. 6 Grandville Calvin Christian and Covenant Christian will more than likely meet again in March. No. 8 Flint Hamady’s nemesis has been Beecher, a team Hamady has seen in the districts more times than they would like to remember. No. 9 Quincy is a youthful but talented group. No. 10 Dansville has solid pieces and might be a year away from a trip to the Breslin Center.
Powers North Central had a three-year run for the ages and strange circumstances would have to occur if it were to win their fourth straight Class D championship. No. 1 Southfield Christian will once again lift the championship trophy like it did from 2012-2014 and many would say its Christian’s to lose. Buckley was last season’s runner-up in a battle of undefeated teams and the No. 2-ranked Bears have a strong group returning. There have been three Class D champions to three-peat since 2003. Sprinkled in between those semi-dynasties is Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, which begins at No. 3. Frankfort is tough, too, and the Panthers have the talent to uphold their No. 4 ranking. No. 5 Fowler was a quarterfinalist a year ago. Southfield Christian ended Fowler’s season. Hillman will start off at No. 6 and when March rolls around, North Central shouldn’t end Hillman’s season as it did in last year’s quarterfinals. Muskegon Heights made the move to Class D from C where things won’t be any easier for the No. 7-ranked team. Benton Harbor Dream Academy might be a one-player team but its starts at No. 8. Oakland Christian is No. 9 and it’ll be battle tested as it faces Southfield Christian twice in the regular season. Ewen-Trout Creek is a sleeper to make the semifinals where Southfield Christian should be waiting. No. 10 Trout Creek last won a state title in 1972.