Thursday, February 28, 2013

Elite Eight -- Stayin' Alive

The top performers from Wednesday's Girls Basketball District Semifinal Action

8. Allyssa Copely -- Holly
Copely put together a solid double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds on in Wednesday's semifinal as she helped keep Holly stay within striking range in a loss to Fenton.

7. Dominique Zigo -- Lakeland 
Zigo put together a dominant second half of basketball as the Lakeland junior scored 14 of Lakeland's 15 fourth quarter points and scored a game-high 24 points in a loss to Walled Lake Western.

6. Becky VanSloten -- Auburn Hills Oakland Christian
VanSloten was nearly unstoppable on Wednesday night as she recorded a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds as she led Oakland Christian past Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart and into the district finals.

5. Lauren Hung -- Waterford Mott
After leading the Corsairs past Waterford Kettering on Monday, Hung helped lead Mott to a much easier win over Troy Athens on Wednesday. Hung scored 21 points on 10 field goals to lead the Corsairs into a district final game against Auburn Hills Avondale.

4. Marissa Cotton -- Farmington Hills Harrison
Cotton was at it again on Wednesday night as she matched her 19 point effort on Monday with 19 more points to help lead Harrison past Walled Lake Northern and into a district finals matchup against Walled Lake Western.

3. Jayla Nichols -- Walled Lake Western
Nichols was a force on both sides of the basketball on Wednesday night as the Western sophomore poured in 20 points, while grabbing seven rebounds and coming away with five steals as she helped lead the Warriors past Lakeland and into the district finals.

2. Kristen Massey -- Novi Franklin Road Christian
Massey was as close to unstoppable as it gets on Wednesday night as the Franklin Road junior poured in an impressive 37 points to lead the Warriors past Wixom St. Catherine. Even more impressive was that Massey buried 21 of her 27 free throw attemtpts to send Franklin Road into a district final game against Plymouth Christian.

1. Sami Stormont -- Royal Oak
Stormont picked up where she left off on Monday night as she put together another 28 point performance to go along with eight rebounds and six steals to lead Royal Oak into a district finals showdown against Southfield-Lathrup.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Elite Eight -- Opening Arguments

Breaking down some of the top performances in the district opener

8. Breanna Bias/Jessica Mehr -- South Lyon
The South Lyon two-headed monster came up huge for the Lions as they both poured in double-digit points on Monday night to lead South Lyon past Fowlerville. Bias scored 15 points, while hauling in 11 rebounds, while Mehr scored a game-high 18 points in the district opener to help lead South Lyon into a district semifinal game against Milford..

7. Jaimee Beckett -- Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Beckett quietly had a dominant night in the post for Cranbrook on Monday night as she scored a game-high 18 points, while also coming away with eight rebounds and four blocks to lead the Cranes to a convincing win over Clawson and on to the district semifinals where they will face Country Day.

6. Grant Luzynski -- Walled Lake Northern/Patrick Carney -- Novi
Both of these goaltenders had a lot to do with the battle that would never end between Novi and Walled Lake Northern on Monday. Both net-minders made over 50 saves on Monday night, but Luzynski came up huge in the overtime sessions, turning away 31 shots in overtime, including a penalty shot to help Northern survive the five overtime thriller and advance in the state tournament.

5. Marissa Cotton -- Farmington Hills Harrison
Cotton was beyond dangerous from beyond the arc as she knocked down five 3-pointers on Monday to help lead Harrison to a narrow win over North Farmington. Cotton, the lone senior on the Hawks roster poured in 14 of her game-high 19 point on Monday night in the first half as she helped spark the rest of the Harrison team as the Hawks took a one-point lead into halftime.

4. Allyssa Copely -- Holly 
Copely did a little bit of everything in Holly's district opening win over Flint Metro League foe Ortonville Brandon as the Broncho's star center tallied 16 points on Monday night to go along with seven rebounds and four blocks as Holly advanced to the district semifinals where it will face Fenton, who Holly split the regular season series with.

3. Lauren Hung -- Waterford Mott
Plenty of people (myself included) overlooked the Corsairs in this district, but Hung and Mott made us think twice. After falling at the hands of Kettering three times earlier in this season, Hung would not be denied of a win on the fourth (and most important) attempt as she poured in a game-high 21 points to help Mott finally pick up a win over the Captains and advanced to the district semifinals where it will face Troy Athens.

2. Shannon Wilson -- Bloomfield Hills Andover
Wilson couldn't be stopped on either end of the floor in Andover's win over Lahser as the Baron's star poured in 23 points to lead the offensive attack for Andover, while also coming away with 11 steals to lead the defensive charge. Wilson also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out eight assists as she came extremely close to picking up a very rare quadruple-double.

1. Sami Stormont -- Royal Oak
Stormont was on a mission last night and led the way to an opening round win as the senior nearly outscored Southfield by her self, scoring 28 points in a 50-29 win over the Blue Jays. Stormont fell just one steal shy of a triple double as she finished with 10 rebounds and nine steals, while dishing out five assists as she helped lead the Ravens to the district semifinals on Royal Oak's home floor.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Girls Basketball District-by-District Preview

Grand Blanc District
Teams -- Grand Blanc, Holly, Fenton, Ortonville Brandon, Linden
Breakdown -- This district should come down to Grand Blanc and Holly as long as the Bronchos can avoid upset bids against Ortonville Brandon and Fenton. Star center Allyssa Copley will once again grab the attention of opposing defenses throughout the tournament, but if sophomore Abby Lewandowski and Kaitlyn Smith can continue to find success like they were able to during the regular season, Holly will pick up a district title and move on to the regional round.
PICK -- Holly

Canton District
Teams -- Plymouth, Salem, Canton, Novi, Northville,
Breakdown -- There are two favorites in this district, Novi and Canton, who each picked up a KLAA division title this year by tallying 18 wins on the season. The two teams faced off a little less than two weeks ago as Canton picked up the overtime win in the second round of the KLAA tournament, but if Novi is at full strength, look for the Wildcats to earn some revenge and pick up the district title.
PICK -- Novi

Farmington Hills Mercy District
Teams -- Farmington Hills Mercy, Farmington, Detroit Mumford, Detroit Henry Ford, Redford Union, Detroit Renaissance
Breakdown -- The two favorites in this district are Renaissance and Mercy, who will likely face off in the second round of districts on Wednesday night. The key for the Marlins throughout the tournament will be to get the perimeter game going early and often with Allie Gorcyca and Candice Leatherwood, which should open things up inside. If Mercy is able to do that, it will likely win a district title on its home floor.
PICK -- Mercy

Royal Oak District
Teams -- Oak Park, Royal Oak, Berkley, Southfield-Lathrup, Southfield-Lathrup, Birmingham Groves
Breakdown -- Without a doubt, the favorite here is Lathrup, who is one of the more balanced teams you're going to find in the tournament. Sydni Davis, Christina Green and Co. should help lead the Chargers onto the regional round. However, Sami Stormont and Royal Oak are flying under the radar, which makes them even more dangerous. I still believe that Lathrup will win this district, but the Ravens will be more than motivated to win a district title in Stormont's final state playoff tourney.
PICK -- Lathrup

North Farmington District
Teams -- North Farmington, Farmington Hills Harrison, Walled Lake Western, Walled Lake Central, Walled Lake Northern, Lakeland
Breakdown -- The best game of the first round of districts is without a doubt the game between North Farmington and Harrison and the winner of that game will likely advance to the district final where it will face either Western or Lakeland. Harrison is the most complete team in this district, so it's hard to pick against the Hawks to advance to the regional round, but they will a very difficult path. The biggest challenge outside of the Raiders for Harrison would likely be Western if it is at full health after dealing with some injury issues towards the end of the season. But I expect senior Marissa Cotton, along with underclassmen Amber Stephens, Kyla Rowland and Kirsten Nelson to lead the Hawks to their first ever district title.
PICK -- Harrison

Fowlerville District
Teams -- Harltand, Brighton, Fowlerville, South Lyon, Howell, Milford
Breakdown --This district will likely belong to either Hartland or Brighton, who battled all season long for the KLAA West crown. Brighton picked up two wins this season over Hartland, and I don't think Lindsay Pajot and Co. will let that happen for a third time this year as the Eagles will pick up a first round win over Brighton and will roll to a district title.
PICK -- Hartland

Birmingham Marian District
Teams -- Birmingham Marian, Bloomfield Hills Lahser, Bloofield Hills Andover, Birmingham Seaholm, West Bloomfield
Breakdown -- It's going to be hard to pick against the host Mustangs, but their biggest competition in this district could come from Andover and star Shannon Wilson in the second round. Marian has proven to be one of the most complete teams in Oakland County this season and that showed in the Mustang's CHSL title run. Look for senior Kilyn Bulluck, sophomore Kara Holiniski and freshman Bailey Thomas to continue their strong play as they lead Marian to a district title.
PICK -- Marian

Troy Athens District
Teams -- Troy Athens, Pontiac, Troy, Waterford Mott, Waterford Kettering, Auburn Hills Avondale
Breakdown -- This district is Kettering's to win, but the biggest roadblock for the Captains is in the first round. Kettering will have to play rival Mott for a fourth time this season, and most coaches will tell you it's hard to beat a team three times in a season, and in order to make it past the opening round, Kettering will have to pull of a fourth straight wins over the Corsairs. It will be tough, but I expect Kettering to pick up a second straight regional title behind seniors Shelby Watts and Taylor Steinhelper.
PICK -- Kettering

Oxford District
Teams -- Oxford, Rochester Adams, Romeo, Lake Orion and Clarkston
Breakdown -- Clarkston is the favorite in this district, but don't sleep on Rochester Adams or Oxford, who have both proven to be very dangerous teams this season. One of the keys to this district will be the post play as all three teams, Clarkston (Erika Davenport), Adams (Amber Jamison) and Oxford (Shelby Davis) have dangerous threats at the forward/center positions. But what will separate Clarkston from the rest will be the guard play as the Wolves have one of the most experienced back courts around in Delaney Kenny and Erin Davenport.
PICK -- Clarkston

Rochester District
Teams -- Utica Eisenhower, Stoney Creek, Rochester, Utica Ford, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Utica
Breakdown -- The two Oakland County Teams in this district could end up playing in the final as Rochester and Stoney Creek are the two most balanced teams out of the six teams. The edge will likely go to Stoney Creek because of the inside-outside play from a number of different contributors, including Lauren and Natalie Voss. But don't sleep on the Falcons and Zhana Randolph who have proven to be as dangerous as anybody all season long.
PICK -- Stoney Creek

District TBD
Teams -- Ferndale, Detroit Old Redford, Southfield Bradford, Warren Fitzgerald, Hazel Park, Ferndale University
Breakdown --  It's a clear path for Ferndale to pick up a district title, and barring a major slip up by the Eagles, Micaela Ellis and Co. will cruise into the regional round of action.
PICK --  Ferndale

Clawson District
Teams -- Clawson, Bloomifeld Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Macomb Lutheran North, Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Madison Heights Lamphere
Breakdown -- No explanation needed. Yellowjackets roll.
PICK -- Country Day

South Lyon East District
Teams -- Detroit Community, Detroit Communication and Media Arts, Detroit Cesar Chavez, Livonia Clarenceville, South Lyon East, Livonia Ladywood, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.
Breakdown -- This District will likely be decided in the opening round when host South Lyon East and Livonia Ladywood face off. South Lyon East and Gabi Bird will be more than motivated to pull off a minor shocker, but the Blazers will be a huge road block if the Cougars want to win a district title. Ladywood is the favorite, but this time of year was meant for upsets.

Madison Heights Madison District
Teams -- Detroit Allen Academy, Detroit Winans Academy, Madison Heights Madison, Highland Park Renaissance Academy
Breakdown -- Speaking of host teams moving on to regionals, that's how this district is set up for Madison. Look for Amber Thomas and Dasha Gould to have a couple of big games during district play to lead the Eagles to a District championship.
PICK -- Madison

Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest District
Teams -- Royal Oak Shrine, Pontiac Academy for Excellence, West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, Bloomfield Hills Sacred Heart.
Breakdown -- If this district didn't include Bishop Foley, it would be a toss up. However, Bishop Foley is in this district, and the Ventures will be the ones advancing to the regional round. Look for big time performances from Emma Wonsil and Abigail Lama to lead the way for Bishop Foley.
PICK -- Bishop Foley

Plymouth Christian District
Teams -- Southfield Christian, Novi Franklin Road Christian, Plymouth Christian, Detroit Westside Christian, Wixom St. Catherine.
Breakdown -- This district will have no shortage of star power with Southfield Christian's Charity Godbold and Novi Franklin Road Christian's Kristen Massey and barring some kind of unheard of shocker, we will see these two face off in the district final. I will give the slightest edge to Southfield Christian in this district, considering Godbold has a history of big time performances in the playoffs (2011 playoffs vs. Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes), but do not sleep on the Warriors and Massey either, as that district final will be MUST SEE.
PICK -- Southfield Christian

Sterling Heights Parkway Christian District
Teams -- Parkway Christian, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Birmingham Roeper, Warren Macomb Christian, Auburn Hills Christian.
Breakdown -- It's been a nice season for Birmingham Roeper, but a nice season simply won't match-up with the 3-time defending state champion Lakers here. It might make for a much closer district final game than what we've seen in recent years, but the Lakers should move on to the regional round with ease once again.

Flint School for the Deaf District
Teams -- Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Genesee Christian, Flint Madison Academy, Flint Michigan School for the Deaf, Burton Faith, Burton St. Thomas More Academy
Breakdown -- I'll be honest, I'm not completely familiar with all of the Genesee County teams playing in this district, but I do know that those teams will have their hands full with Clarkston Everest. Look for top performances from Lucia Westrick, Ashley Lowney and Mary Jo Allen to lead Everest to a District title.
PICK -- Clarkston Everest Collegiate 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rapid Reaction: National Signing Day Edition

Big Winners: Grand Valley State and Ferris State
To put it simply, the Lakers and Bulldogs cleaned up this year. Not just on talent from Oakland County, but statewide talent:
Grand Valley State reeled a dangerous trio from Southfield, Tre Walton, Brandon Bean and  Jeff Madison, while also picking up Jake Slobin (See Below), and bringing in a very underrated and accomplished quarterback in Grand Blanc's Bart Williams along with Clarkston's Chris Calvano. Don't forget about St. Mary's running back Parker McInnis, who had a D-1 offer from Eastern Michigan on the table, but decided to sign with the Lakers.
Ferris State brought in a very talented class as well, bringing in Slobin's teammate, Garius Coleman and Anthony Darkangelo, one of the more dominant two way players in Oakland County this year, along with Malik Washington, Brandon Harding and Brian Williams, who all played key roles in Oak Park's resurgence last fall as well as Farmington defensive lineman Michael Purry.

Biggest Sleeper: Nick Boswell (Birmingham Detroit Country Day)
Boswell was overlooked by some D-1 schools, but did have offers to play at lower levels of football and decided to accept a preferred walk-on spot at Western Michigan. A LOT of teams missed on the Country Day linebacker, who proved to be one of the most sure tacklers in Oakland County last season.

Biggest Sleeper Part II: Chaz Miller (Lake Orion)
Miller has flown under the radar for some reason, but has proven to be a serious play-making threat on just about every down during his high school career with the Dragons. That shouldn't change once he gets to Saginaw Valley State as he should prove to be a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses over the course of the next few years.

Biggest Steal: Jake Slobin (Farmington Hills Harrison)
It hasn't changed since his commitment, and it's not going to change now. Slobin still remains as the biggest steal to come out of Oakland County this year. Slobin was a tackling machine from his defensive line position last year and Grand Valley State should expect more of the same over the course of the next few years.

Biggest Steal Part II: Anthony Darkangelo (Catholic Central)
Darkangelo, much like Slobin, in my mind showed he was a D-1 prospect throughout his high school career, so for Ferris State to manage to get him on campus is huge for the Bulldogs. Darkangelo proved to be a menace on offense and defense as he piled up the rushing yards and tackles for the Shamrocks, who made it to Ford Field in back-to-back seasons.

Biggest Surprise: Poet Thomas (Birmingham Detroit Country Day)
When it came down to his final few teams he was considering, it might not be that big of a surprise that Thomas chose Texas Tech over the likes of Syracuse and Arkansas Pine-Bluff. But with an offer from Florida on the table, it came as a bit of a surprise that the Gators weren't in the top couple of teams under consideration.

Smallest Surprise: Jon Reschke (Brother Rice)
Reschke has had Michigan State as his top choice for a while now and even as some big offers continued to roll in for the senior linebacker, he stuck with Michigan State. So there was no surprise to be had on Wednesday when he officially became a Spartan.