Thursday, March 21, 2013

Boys Basketball State Semifinal Predictions

Class D
Southfield Christian vs. Lansing Christian
Southfield Christian is as battle tested as it gets this year as the Eagles have found ways to beat some of the top teams in the area in Class A and B. What makes Southfield Christian's run even more impressive this year is that they have zero seniors on this year's squad and are winning like a senior-laden squad. The Eagles are finding a way to win some of the closest games possible, like a two-point win over Climax-Scotts in the quarterfinals and a come from behind win over Inter-City Baptist to win in overtime. They may not be seniors, but Bakari Evelyn, Lindsey Hunter IV and Damarco White are playing exactly like seniors so far in the playoffs, and it's a big reason why the Eagles are back at the Breslin and why they will be playing for a second straight state title on Saturday.
PREDICTION: Southfield Christian 71, Lansing Christian 64

Powers North Central vs. Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian
Tri-Unity Christian is ranked No. 1 in Class D for a reason, aside from a narrow win over Muskegon Catholic Central, the defenders have made their postseason run look pretty easy. Powers North Central has had some convincing wins of their own so far in the playoffs, but have been challenged at times during this run, and the top ranked team in Class D will be too tall of a challenge for North Central.
PREDICTION: Tri-Unity Christian 66, Powers North Central 59

Class B
Birmingham Detroit Country Day vs. Cadillac
Country Day is in cruise control right now as the Yellowjackets have won each of their first six playoff games by a margin of 18 points or more. What's made Country Day even more dangerous during the playoff run is that Mory Diane and Austin Price are simply shooting the lights out for the Yellowjackets, while Edmund Sumner continues to get better and better, which creates a ton of mismatches all over the court for opposing teams. Country Day doesn't have its usual "aircraft carrier," as head coach Kurt Keener puts it, roaming the paint for the Yellowjackets, but the tandem of Chris Wright and Moe Ways with Poet Thomas coming off of the bench have been the unsung heroes for Country Day all season long.
PREDICTION: Country Day 81, Cadillac 65

Detroit Community vs. Wyoming Godwin Heights
Don't let the 17-9 record fool you, Detroit Community has played a very tough schedule this year, which includes narrow losses to Southfield Christian, Detroit Pershing and Detroit Southeastern and also suffered a loss at the hands of Romulus, and all four of those teams were in the Elite 8 of the tourney and three are still alive in the Final 4. Godwin Heights will prove to be a bit of a challenge for Community, but this battle tested Hurricane's team, led by South Florida commit Byron Ziegler, will move on to the state finals.
PREDICTION: Community 74, Godwin Heights 71 in OT

Class A
Romulus vs. Grand Rapids Christian
After beating top ranked Pershing in a wild quarterfinal game on Tuesday, this Romulus team has state champion written all over it. Romulus is one of, if not the best defensive teams you're going going to find in the state, it has also shown that it can score with the best teams around and that came out against Pershing in an impressive 93-91 win. Grand Rapids Christian does have a few players that you have to look out for, including Drake Harris, but Romulus has difference makers all over the court with Wes Clark who will play for Missouri, EC Matthews, who has signed with Rhode Island, Leo Edwards, who is headed to Louisiana Tech, and Jalon Plummer who has a few offers as well. Romulus just has too much for most teams to handle and that will likely lead to a state championship.
PREDICTION: Romulus 83, Grand Rapids Christian 68

Detroit Southeastern vs. Saginaw
Detroit Southeastern managed to knock off the last Class A team from Oakland County and did an outstanding job of limiting Rochester star James Young in the quarterfinals, but Saginaw should be the toughest test of the playoffs for the Jungaleers to this point. Before its four-point quarterfinal win over Ypsilanti, the Trojans were in cruise control as they were dominating almost every team in their path.
PREDICTION: Saginaw 74, Southeastern 70

Class C
Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central vs. Flint Beecher
This game comes down to one player in my mind, and his name happens to be Monte Morris who can also go by the name of Mr. Basketball nowadays. Morris should create all sorts of trouble for MSMCC and that should show early and often in this game. If MSMCC can limit and slow down Morris, then it will have a chance to win, but nobody's been able to do that yet this year, and Beecher will move on to the state finals.
PREDICTION: Beecher 82, MSMCC 67

Laingsburg vs. Negaunee
Both teams have shown that they can play some top notch defense, and have shown the ability to score the ball with ease in some games as well, but the difference in this game could be Negaunee's Tyler Jandron, who averages nearly 20 points per game and has led his team to a near perfect 24-1 record on the year. Laingsburg is more than capable of handing Negaunee its second loss of the season, by Jandron should help the Miners survive.
PREDICTION: Negaunee 63, Laingsburg 62 in OT

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Boys Basketball Quarterfinals Predictions

Detroit Southeastern vs. Rochester
Breakdown -- Chances are, we're going to see a more that motivated James Young on Tuesday night, which is bad news for Southeastern. After being snubbed in the Mr. Basketball voting where he finished in 3rd place, Young might be out to make a statement on Tuesday night. Look for the Kentucky-bound star to put up a monstrous double-double, but don't forget about Arben Camaj, the second half of the Rochester front-court duo to have a big game as well as the majority of Southeastern's attention will be turned to Young throughout the game. Southeastern made it look easy in its first three postseason games and had just enough to outlast L'Anse Creuse North in the regional final, but Rochester will be the toughest test of the postseason for the Jungaleers.
X-Factor(s) -- Manny Mendoza/Mike Murri -- Rochester
Everybody knows about Rochester's ability to score and who are the top scorers for the Falcons, but Mendoza and Murri are two of the best defensive stoppers you're going to find in the tournament. Both are capable to scoring in double figures on just about any night, and they could do that on Tuesday night, but what will be the difference in the game will be the defensive play from Mendoza and Murri, should help limit a strong scoring attack from Southeastern.
Why Rochester Will Win: It's pretty simple, if Young and Camaj can continue to be double-double machines in the post for the Falcons, then it'd be pretty hard to imagine Rochester losing. If they can make life tough inside for Southeastern, Rochester will be making its first trip to the quarterfinals since 1950 a memorable one.
PREDICTION: Rochester 64, Southeastern 60

Birmingham Detroit Country Day vs. Flint Powers Catholic
Breakdown -- This is one of the more lopsided matchups you're going to see this late in the state tournament as Flint Powers entered the postseason this year with a record of under .500, while Country Day has its record sitting at 22-3 on the season. This game should be all Country Day on Tuesday night because of the guard play as Edmund Sumner, Austin Price and Mory Diane have proven to be too much for teams to handle all season long and that shouldn't change against Flint Powers. Flint Powers has made its way to the quarterfinals for a reason, and they're not to be taken lightly on Tuesday night as they've strung together five consecutive wins to make it to this point, but as long as the Yellowjackets can continue to play like they have in recent weeks, they will be returning to the Breslin Center once again.
X-Factor(s) -- Chris Wright/Moe Ways -- Country Day
The back-court trio of Sumner, Price and Diane are the three that have and will continue to get plenty attention from opposing defenses, but Wright and Ways are just as dangerous in the post for Country Day. If Country Day can continue to get the workmanlike efforts from Wright and Ways along with Poet Thomas, the Yellowjackets will be a tough team to beat not only in the quarterfinals, but in the semifinals and finals as well.
Why Country Day Will Win: Two words: Edmond Sumner. Sumner has been on another level for the past month and it doesn't look like there's anything that can (or will) slow him down during this playoff run. Wheter it's scoring the ball, or dishing it out, Sumner has been nearly unstoppable throughout the playoffs and when he's unstoppable, so are the Yellowjackets.
PREDICTION: Country Day 82, Flint Powers 66

Southfield Christian vs. Climax-Scotts
Breakdown -- A rematch of last year's Class D state title game where the Eagles beat Climax-Scotts in a blowout. This year's game should be much closer considering the fact that the Panthers will be looking for revenge after suffering a bit of an embarrassing loss in last season's championship game. A big match-up to look out for will be between Climax-Scotts 6-foot-7 forward Malachi Satterlee and Southfield Christian's Damarco White, who stands at about the same height. But the difference in this game, will be Southfield Christian guards, Bakari Evelyn and Lindsey Hunter IV, who might be the best back-court duo in all of Class D and now with junior Leonard Crosby starting to come into his own, the Eagles will be a tough team to beat in the final three games of the season.
X-Factor(s) -- Damarco White/Eugene "Marlo" Brown -- Southfield Christian
Neither of these two players were apart of Southfield Christian's state title run last season, as White was playing for Southgate Anderson, while this is Brown's freshman season. But both have played a huge role in Southfield Christian's success as they've controlled the front-court all season long, dominating on the glass, while locking down some of the best inside threats in the area. The Eagle's duo will have their hands full with Satterlee and Climax-Scotts, but if they can do just enough to limit the Panthers inside, Southfield Christian will be returning to the Breslin for a second consecutive year.
Why Southfield Christian Will Win: It's going to come down to the guard play, the back-court duo of Evelyn and Hunter IV along with Crosby should give Climax-Scotts all sorts of trouble. If that happens, look for the guards to open up the inside game for the Eagles as Brown, White and Kam Garner should make for difficult matchups all over the court because of their athleticism and ability to score inside.
PREDICTION: Southfield Christian 75, Climax-Scotts 63

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Girls Basketball Quarterfinal Predictions

Birmingham Marian vs. Grosse Pointe South (At Detroit Mercy)
Breakdown: Grosse Pointe South has won 22 straight games this season after losing the season opener to Illinois power Chicago Whitney Young, and the Blue Devils have won each of their tournament games by double digits so far. But aside from the opening game of the season for South, Marian might be the toughest test for the Blue Devils this season. Marian has continued to be one of the most consistent teams in the area, behind one of the most consistent scoring attacks around as the Mustangs have several players capable of taking over a game on both ends of the floor.
X-Factor: Kilyn Bulluck, Birmingham Marian
Bulluck has controlled the paint for the Mustangs all season long and if she is able to do that in the quarterfinal game, she should help Marian move onto the semifinals. Bulluck wont have to score a ton of points for Marian to advance, but if she can play her usual strong defense and continue to be one of, if not the best rebounder on the floor, the Mustangs will have a chance.
Why Marian Will Win: The Mustangs have had an impressive run through the playoffs so far as they had a dominant showing during district play and followed that up with a strong win over Avondale in the regional semifinals and then outlasted a tough Clarkston squad in the regional final. Look for some of the Marian young guns, like Bailey Thomas and Kara Holinski to continue their strong postseason play as the Mustangs will continue to show off their depth.
Why GPS Will Win: The record speaks for itself and it seems like the Blue Devils have only gotten stronger in the postseason and the play they've gotten out of their seniors in the playoffs has helped Grosse Pointe South make the postseason run look easy so far.
PREDICTION: Marian over Grosse Pointe South in OT

Birmingham Detroit Country Day vs. Flint Powers (At Yale)
Breakdown: County Day just seems like it is destined to play in the quarterfinals each and every year. Even when the Yellowjackets trailed Chandler Park by two baskets with less than 30 seconds left to play in the regional semifinals, Country Day still managed to find a way to get back to the quarterfinals. Now the Yellowjackets are looking like a safe bet to return to the Breslin Center as they should go into Tuesday's game as the prohibitive favorite. Country Day will have to find a way to slow down Charger's senior Kim Berry, who is averaging close to 15 points a game and there are two other players on the Flint Powers roster that average double-digit points per contest.
X-Factor: Asia Doss, Country Day
It's hard to say a team's star play can also be the X-factor, but as Asia Doss goes, so do the Yellowjackets, and that proved to be true in the win over Chandler Park. Trailing by four with 25 seconds left, Doss rattled off a quick four points to force overtime and the Yellowjackets rolled from there. If Doss can keep up her strong scoring ways and continue to be a distributor at point guard, Country Day shouldn't have much trouble with advancing to the semifinals.
Why Country Day Will Win: The Yellowjackets will win if their "Big 3" of Doss, Brittany Washington and Tianna Glimpse can continue their strong play, it's that simple, and that's been the case for Country Day all season long. If they can continue to score and defend like they have during the playoff run, the Yellowjackets will be back at the Breslin Center.
Why Flint Powers Will Win: Flint Powers has a "Big 3" of its own with Berry, Michela Coury and Ally Haran, who all average 10 points or more per game and if they can manage to stay close to their season average in points per game, the Chargers will have a good chance of advancing.
PREDICTION: Country Day over Flint Powers

Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes vs. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (At Waterford Mott)
Breakdown: These two teams have already met once this year, as Lakes picked up a 50-38 win, thanks to a big second half. Sacred Heart had a lead at halftime, but Lakes outscored the Irish by 13 points in the second half on the way to the early season win. The Lakers will once again look to its trio of seniors, Lexie Robak, Ava Doetsch and Jessica Parry, who have three state championship rings so far, to help lead the way to another playoff win and keep the hopes for a 4-peat alive. Sacred Heart will have to look for big games out of Sara and Erica Hansen, who are the only two players on the roster who are averaging more that 10 points per game, but the Lakers will go in as the favorites.
X-Factor(s): Jessica Parry/Anna Robb, Lakes
Parry has been one of the most consistent players around all season long, and that has carried over into the playoffs. With Parry playing well, it's freed things up for Robak and Doetsch, who defenses usually key in on, and Parry has been able to take advantage of that. Parry has also stepped into the point guard role for the Lakers as she has found ways to create scoring opportunities for herself as well as the rest of the team all year. Robb, who has also been a consistent contributor all season long for the Lakers and has proven to be one of the best defenders around throughout the year for Lakes. Look for Robb to help shut down the the Sacred Heart scoring attack as the Lakers will try to advance to the Breslin Center once again.
Why WOLL Will Win: The Lakers should win this game after proving that they are more than capable of beating Sacred Heart, but the key to this win for Lakes will be some of the lesser known contributors. Everybody knows that Doetsch, Robak and Parry will get their nightly points, rebounds and assists, but players like Robb, Shelby Mann, Haley Howell, Gabrielle Troy and Lindsey Ross along with others, will help make an impact on both ends of the floor to help lead the Lakers. The Lakers will also have a serious home court advantage on Tuesday night as the game will be played right around the corner at Waterford Mott, while Sacred Heart will have to make the 2 hour drive, which could play a pretty big role in the outcome of Tuesday's game.
Why Sacred Heart Will Win: It's pretty simple for the Irish, if they can get strong showings in the quarterfinals from Sara and Erica Hansen, they will have a chance to unseat the defending state champions. If they can't, then it will be a long day in Waterford and an even longer drive back to Mt. Pleasant for Sacred Heart.
PREDICTION: Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes over Sacred Heart

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boys Basketball Region-by-Region Preview

Ann Arbor Huron Region
Teams -- North Farmington, South Lyon, Ypsilanti, Canton
Breakdown -- In my District preview, I said that I believed North Farmington would make a deep run in the tournament, and that still hasn't changed one week later. The Raiders, behind seniors Sterling Sharp and Caleb Hogans looked like a team on a mission during their two wins during the district playoffs, which is bad news for the other three teams in this regional. What will separate the Raiders from the rest of the field this week will be its ability to knock down the outside shots with Sharp and Hogans, while having one of the best inside presences in the area with Jeron "Buddha" Rogers.
Regional Final Prediction -- North Farmington over Canton

Southfield Region
Teams -- Birmingham Groves, Detroit U-D Jesuit, Redford Thurston, Detroit Pershing
Breakdown -- This region will likely come down to Jesuit and Pershing, who would meet in the regional final if all goes according to plan. However, things didn't go according to plan in the district playoffs for teams who were matched with Birmingham Groves. The Falcons came out and surprised favored teams like Southfield, Oak Park and Southfield-Lathrup to pick up the district title, so don't overlook out Kyle Ervin, Andrew Forbes (the hero from the semifinal win over Lathrup) and Co. because that might have hurt some teams in Districts.
Regional Final Prediction -- Pershing over Groves

West Bloomfield Region
Teams -- Romeo, Bloomfield Hills Lahser, Rochester, Troy Athens
Breakdown -- Unless we see another upset from the Cinderella teams in this region, we will probably see Lahser and Rochester face off in the regional final. It will be an interesting rematch of a game that took place earlier in the season when Rochester narrowly clipped Lahser. Has anybody played much better than Arben Camaj in recent weeks? The senior standout was outstanding in Young's absence and that carried over to the district playoffs and that, paired with Young, who looks like he didn't miss a beat during his two weeks off, should make the Falcons the favorite to win a regional title. But you can't sleep on the Lahser "Big 3" of Cartwright, Gracey and Maten, who picked up a thrilling district final win last week.
Regional Final Prediction -- Rochester over Lahser in OT

Birmingham Detroit Country Day Region
Teams -- Birmingham Detroit Country Day,  Harper Woods Chandler Park, Ferndale University, Detroit Douglass
Breakdown -- With all due respect to Ferndale University and Detroit Douglass, the regional semifinal game between Country Day and Chandler Park might as well be the regional final. Both teams are loaded and the matchup to look for on Monday will be the point guard battle with Country Day junior Edmond Sumner and Michigan-bound senior Derrick Walton as both players are two of the best at their position in the entire state. Look for Austin Price, Mory Diane, and Chris Wright to play a key role against Chandler Park as the Yellowjackets will show off their depth as they will move on to the quarterfinals.
Regional Final Prediction -- Country Day over Ferndale University

Madison Heights Bishop Foley Region
Teams -- Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Melvindale ABT, Detroit Consortium, Detroit Loyola
Breakdown -- The Ventures will likely advance to the regional final as Bishop Foley has already proven it can beat Loyola as it picked up a win in the CHSL semifinals. But getting to the final and winning in the regional final will be a completely different (and much tougher) task. The Ventures will likely have to face a loaded Consortium squad, which has an 18-3 record on the season and has already topped a number of state title contenders throughout the season. A player to keep an eye on with Oakland County ties in this region will be Consortium's fab-frosh Josh Jackson (from Southfield), who is a rising star in the prep basketball landscape.
Regional Final Prediction -- Consortium over Bishop Foley

Novi Region
Teams -- Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, Southfield Christian, Bellvue, Pinckney Livingston
Breakdown -- This is a region that will come down to Allen Park Inter-City Baptist and Southfield Christian in the regional final as both teams should cruise through the regional semifinals without running into much trouble. This (potential) regional final could be a Class D state championship game as both teams are easily two of the best teams in the state for their Class. But the depth of Southfield Christian, with Bakari Evelyn, Lindsey Hunter, Marlo Brown, Damarco White, Kam Garner, Ben Cookingham and the list goes on as any of those players and others that can flat out score the basketball, and that will be the difference as the Eagles will keep their hopes for a second straight state title alive.
Regional Final Prediction --  Southfield Christian over Inter-City Baptist

Lansing Christian Region
Teams -- Birmingham Roeper, Lansing Christian, Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Peck
Breakdown -- The regional final might be decided in the regional semifinal matchup between Peck and host Lansing Christian, who combined for just five losses on the season. Clarkston Everest should advance to play in the regional final, and could prove to be a real test for whoever advances from the Peck and Lansing Christian game, but the Mountaineers may not have enough firepower to hang on for the regional title. But don't count out Richie Cross and David Smith, who can score with some of the best players around, so they will lead Everest to a semifinal win and should give the Mountaineers a chance in the end of the final game.
Prediction -- Lansing Christian over Clarkston Everest

Friday, March 8, 2013

Leaving Their Mark

Farmington Hills Harrison saw its season come to a screeching halt on Thursday night as the Hawks fell in heartbreaking fashion in the regional final as Dexter hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer in overtime.
But before Harrison's memorable season came to an end, the Hawks were able to achieve quite a bit of history, as they piled up some hardware for the first time in a very long time.
Actually, for the first time ever.
The Hawks started with winning their first division title since 1998 as they won the Oakland Activities Association White Division as Harrison beat out Rochester Adams, Oxford and Bloomfield Hills Andover along with other teams on its way to a sparkling 23-3 record this season.
Then, for the first time in Harrison's history, the Hawks picked up their first district title as they went on to beat North Farmington, Walled Lake Northern and Walled Lake Western, behind senior floor general Marissa Cotton, who scored 52 points during that three game stretch.
The Hawks then followed that up with their first regional semifinal win as they topped Hartland in a double-digit win to move on to their first ever regional final where their remarkable season came to an end.
The Hawks went on their historic run this season with one of the youngest teams you will find as Harrison had just one senior on the roster, while starting two freshman guards, Amber Stephens and Kristen Nelson as well as sophomore center Kyla Roland, who proved to be three of the best underclassmen not only in Oakland County, but in the entire state.
Harrison also had big contributions from sophomore Katie Conrad and junior Asia Campbell, who quietly flew under the radar all season long, but proved to be key players from start to finish.
While Harrison will definitely miss Cotton, the only senior that the Hawks had, who proved to be one of the best guards in Oakland County and also was a calming influence for Harrison this year, there is no doubt that the Hawks will be back in a position to make some noise in the next couple of years. With Stephens, Nelson, Roland, Conrad and Campbell all coming back next year along with six other returning players from this year's roster, Harrison will definitely have more than enough fire-power to make long playoff runs over the course of the next 2-3 years.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Girls Basketball Regional Final Predictions

Detroit Martin Luther King vs. Farmington Hills Mercy
The Marlins look like they are a team on a mission, and their blowout win over Southfield-Lathrup proved just that. With senior guard Candice Leatherwood and Allie Gorcyca continuously putting together consistent performances and Taylor Jones having a big postseason for the Marlins, Mercy has been and will continue to be a tough team to take down throughout the postseason.
Prediction: Mercy

Clarkston vs. Birmingham Marian
This is without a doubt the matchup of the night in Thursday's girls basketball quarterfinal action. The Mustangs have been one of the most balanced teams in the area all season long, with constant contributions from just about everywhere on any night, and sophomore Kara Holinski has helped lead the charge for Marian throughout the posteason run. Clarkston has continued to get big play out of their starters, especially from sophomore Erika Davenport along with senior Delaney Kenny and Erin Davenport. Look for a big night out of the Clarkston "Big 3" as Kenny and the Davenport sisters to help the Wolves pick up a regional title.
Prediction: Clarkston in OT

Farmington Hills Harrison vs. Dexter
This will be a game of contrasting styles. Dexter likes to slow the pace down, and that proved to be the case in the Dreadnaught's 26-17 win over Canton in the regional semifinals. Harrison is athletic as anybody in the postseason and could try to push the pace and use its athleticism to its advantage during the regional final. The underclassmen trio of Amber Stephens, Kristen Nelson and Kyla Roland should give Dexter some matchup issues, but the difference maker in this game for the Hawks will be Marissa Cotton as she has continued to be one of the area's best all-around guards this season.
Prediction: Harrison

Ferndale vs. Birmingham Detroit Country Day
There's no denying that this game will have a big individual matchup showcased at guard between Ferndale's Micaela Ellis and Country Day's Asia Doss as both have proven to be two of Oakland County's best at their position. But this game will likely belong to Country Day, who might have turned a corner of some kind on Tuesday as the Yellowjackets overcame a four point deficit in 25 seconds and then throttled Chandler Park in overtime. Look for big games from Brittany Washington and Tianna Glimpse, along with Doss to help lead Country Day to yet another regional championship.
Prediction: Country Day

Riverview Gabriel Richard vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley
The Ventures have been on a tear throughout the playoffs as Bishop Foley has made it look easy in some of their wins through the regional semifinal. Bishop Foley will need to come up with a minor upset to pick up the regional title, but with the way the Ventures have played so far, I think there's a pretty good chance of that happening as they've beaten their opponents by at least 16 points in each of their first four playoff games. A big reason for Bishop Foley's strong playoff run has been senior guard Emma Wonsil, who has had big game after big game so far in the postseason, and should have yet another strong performance in the regional final.
Prediction: Bishop Foley

Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes vs. Lansing Christian
This will be the toughest game of the playoffs so far for the Lakers as they will have to travel to Lansing to play the No. 5 ranked team in the state in Class D. Experience will play a key role for Lakes in this game as Lexie Robak, Ava Doetsch and Jessica Parry will be playing in their fourth consecutive regional final. Look for a strong outing from the Lakes "Big 3" as the the Lakers will narrowly keep their drive for a fourth straight title alive.
Prediction: Lakes in OT

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Elite Eight -- Rolling Along

The top performers from Tuesday night's girls basketball regional semifinals 

8. Erika Davenport -- Clarkston
Davenport was once again a dominant force on the inside for the Wolves on Tuesday night as the star sophomore recorded 15 points in the regional semifinal win over Utica Ford as Davenport, along with Delaney Kenny (see below) helped lead the Wolves into a regional final game against Marian.

7. Kara Holinski -- Birmingham Marian
Holinski has been as steady as it gets in the postseason for the Mustangs as the Marian super-soph once again put together a double-digit performance of 13 points in Tuesday's regional semifinal win over Auburn Hills Avondale. Holinski came up clutch down the stretch for the Mustangs as she buried eight free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the game away and set up a regional final showdown with Clarkston.

6. Emma Wonsil -- Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Wonsil was nearly unstoppable on Tuesday night as she helped lead the Ventures to a regional semifinal win over crosstown rival Madison Heights Madison with a game-high 22 points. Wonsil knocked down three 3-pointers on the night and added three more field goals, while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line to lead the Ventures into the regional final.

5. Micaela Ellis -- Ferndale
Ellis was a force offensively for Ferndale on Tuesday night, as the star junior recorded 22 points as she helped lead the Eagles to a dominating win over Detroit University Prep on Tuesday night. Ellis also recorded four steals on the defensive end on Tuesday as Ferndale advances to the regional final for the first time in almost 20 years.

4. Asia Doss -- Birmingham Detroit Country Day
Big time players make big time plays, and that's exactly what Doss did on Tuesday night as Doss drilled a deep 3-pointer and tallied another point via a free throw to help the Yellowjackets overcome a four-point deficit with less than 30 seconds left to play to force overtime against Chandler Park. Doss finished with a team-high 18 points to lead Country Day into the regional final once again.

3. Kyla Roland -- Farmington Hills Harrison
Roland was as dominant as it gets on the defensive end on Tuesday night as the Harrison super-soph blocked seven shots in the Hawk's regional semifinal win over Hartland, while altering several more shots throughout the game. Roland also recorded a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead Harrison to its first regional title game, after appearing in its first regional semifinal game.

2. Delaney Kenny -- Clarkston
Kenny would not be denied on Tuesday night as the Clarkston senior poured in a game-high 20 points as she helped lead the Wolves advance to the regional final with an 18-point lead over Utica Ford. Kenny knocked down six shots from the field and also went a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe to lead Clarkston into a regional final showdown with Birmingham Marian on Thursday night.

1. Taylor Jones -- Farmington Hills Mercy
Jones had a break out game for the ages as the Mercy sophomore put together a dominant performance on Tuesday night to lead the Marlins to a convincing win over Southfield-Lathrup. Jones poured in a career-high 31 points in the regional semifinal\and came up with shot after shot to continue to incread the Marlin lead from start to finish.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Elite Eight -- Cliffhanger

The top performers from opening night of the boys basketball district playoffs

8. Jordan Dasuqi -- Clarkston
Dasuqi came up huge when Clarkston needed him most on Monday night as the Wolves fought off an upset bid from Lake Orion. The Clarkston senior drilled a pair of fourth quarter 3-pointers as Clarkston saw its lead go from just a couple of points to double digits in a matter of minutes in the final frame. Dasuqi also poured in 13 of his game-high 21 points in the district opener in the second half as Clarkston advanced to the district semifinals.

7. Nathan Drews -- Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest
Drews found success from all over the floor for the Crusaders in Monday night's 23-point district opening win over Madison Heights Madison as he poured in a game-high 24 points as he knocked down three 3-pointers and nine total shots from the field as Lutheran Northwest.

6. Garrett House -- Birmingham Roeper
House was a force on Monday night for the Roughriders as he knocked down 13 shots from the field on his way to 27 points to lead Roeper to a 15-point win over Auburn Hills Christian in the district opener as House and the Roughriders moved on into the district semifinal where they will face Warren Macomb Christian.

5. Cam Cavazos -- Royal Oak Shrine
The Shrine junior continues to be one of Oakland County's best kept secrets as Cavazos once again proved to be dominant on Monday night. Cavazos scored a game-high 26 points in a district opener as he led the Knights to a convincing win over Pontiac Academy For Excellence and into the district semifinals.

4. Quincy Norman -- Waterford Mott
Norman was once again a workhorse in the post for the Corsairs on both ends of the court on Monday night as the Mott senior scored a game-high 18 points while swatting eight shots and grabbing a handful of rebounds to lead the Corsairs to a narrow win over Auburn Hills Avondale and into a district semifinal game with Pontiac.

3. Arben Camaj -- Rochester
Camaj has been as good as it gets in recent weeks as the Rochester senior center once again put together a dazzling performance on Monday night. Camaj poured in a game-high 26 points to lead the Falcons to a district opening win over Utica Ford and further proving that the Falcons are far from a "One man show." With the way Camaj is playing and with James Young returning from injury (scoring 16 points on Monday), the Falcons are a team that could make a deep run in the state tournament.

2. Paris Bass -- Birmingham Seaholm
On just about any other night, Bass would have picked up top honors tonight as the Seaholm senior was simply dominant. Bass recorded a double-double of 33 points and 11 rebounds, while also dishing out five assists to lead the Maples to convincing win over Bloomfield Hills Andover. Bass was definitely a man on a mission on Monday night as he helped lead a Seaholm scoring attack that scored over 90 points to advance to the district semifinals.

1. Chris Cliff -- Walled Lake Northern
Can you say clutch? After Northern had blown a sizable fourth quarter lead in Monday's district opener, Cliff came up with as big of a shot as you will find in the postseason. Cliff had ice water running through his veins on Monday night as the super-soph took a pass near mid-court, turned, took a dribble and threw up a shot at the buzzer from just inside mid-court and found nothing but the bottom of the net to lead the Knights to a thrilling win over Farmington Hills Harrison. Cliff finished with 14 points on Monday as Northern advanced to the district semifinals, where it will face North Farmington, but the last three points were as good as it gets.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Boys Basketball District-By-District Preview

Linden District
Teams -- Holly, Fenton, Linden, Ortonville Brandon, Grand Blanc
Breakdown -- This district will likely come down to Grand Blanc, who continues to find ways to win, and Fenton, who picked up a district championship last season. But don't sleep on Holly, who could play spoiler as the Bronchos have had an eye opening season with a very young roster.
PICK -- Grand Blanc

Northville District
Teams -- Salem, Canton, Northville, Plymouth, Novi, Novi Detroit Catholic Central
Breakdown -- There are a few teams that could come out of this district, including Catholic Central, who did have a bit of a disappointing year, but the Shamrocks are battle tested and may have played the toughest schedule out of anybody in this district. But Canton is the best team in this district, and it will advance.
PICK -- Canton

U-D Jesuit District
Teams -- Detroit Mumford, U-D Jesuit, Detroit Henry Ford, Redford Union Farmington, Detroit Renaissance
Breakdown -- Not much of an argument here, Jesuit will move on.
PICK -- U-D Jesuit

Birmingham Groves District
Teams -- Southfield, Southfield-Lathrup, Oak Park, Birmingham Groves, Royal Oak, Berkley
Breakdown -- One of the best district out there, Southfield is in search of a fourth consecutive district title, while host Groves has been resurgent this season behind Kyle Ervin, Oak Park has flow under the radar, but you can't count out any team that has Jon-Jon Williams. I'm very tempted to go with Lathrup to come out of this district, but Southfield has been there and done that, and I think the Blue Jays will prevail.
PICK -- Southfield

North Farmington
Teams -- Walled Lake Central, Walled Lake Western, Walled Lake Northern, North Farmington, Farmington Hills Harrison, Lakeland
Breakdown -- I think this is the best district that involves Oakland County teams. Host North Farmington goes in as the favorite, but Walled Lake Central as well as Walled Lake Western along with Harrison could play spoiler if they can escape some tough first round games. But I think the Raiders will pick up the district title here behind their "Big 3" of Caleb Hogans, Sterling Sharp and Jeron "Buddha" Rogers. Not to look too far ahead, but North Farmington looks like a team that might not be limited to a district title and could make a deep run in the tournament as well.
PICK -- North Farmington

Milford District
Teams -- Howell, Fowlerville, South Lyon, Hartland, Brighton, Milford
Breakdown -- This district will likely come down to Milford and South Lyon and the Lions are probably the favorite behind senior Luke Short. But South Lyon can't overlook its opening game of the tournament against Hartland, which could pull off the upset if the Lions are not careful. But the Lions should still survive to the regional playoffs.
PICK -- South Lyon

Bloomfield Hills Andover
Teams -- Bloomfield Hills Andover, Bloomfield Hills Lahser, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, West Bloomfield, Birmingham Seaholm, Birmingham Brother Rice
Brekdown -- This district is likely going to be a three horse race, with Lahser, St. Mary's and Seaholm all being legitimate contenders to walk away with a district championship. You can't count out Paris Bass and Seaholm, but this will probably come down to St. Mary's and Lahser. It's a tough call to make between the senior-laden Eaglets, and the junior-led Knights. This district final, if it happens, will be MUST SEE.
PICK -- Lahser

Troy District
Teams -- Troy, Troy Athens, Waterford Mott, Waterford Kettering, Pontiac, Auburn Hills Avondale
Breakdown -- This district belongs to the Corsairs, who are in search of their second straight district title. If Kahlil Malone and Quincy Norman can be their usual dominant selves, Mott should roll to another district title.
PICK -- Mott

Lake Orion District
Teams -- Lake Orion, Clarkston, Rochester Adams, Oxford, Romeo
Breakdown -- Clarkston and Rochester Adams will be meeting in the district final barring a monstrous upset and that will be a district final for the ages. You can never go wrong picking Clarkston to pull out a district title, but you can't go wrong with going with a team that didn't lose a single game during the regular season. The back-court matchup of Clarkton's Jordan Dasuqi and Akhemji Williams will be another must-see aspect of this potential district final, but the difference maker will be Zack Littleson will be the x-factor in this district finals as the Highlanders will remain unbeaten.
PICK -- Adams

Sterling Heights Stevenson District
Teams -- Rochester, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Stoney Creek, Utica Ford, Utica Eisenhower, Utica
Breakdown -- It's pretty simple, if James Young is able to play, then the Falcons will roll to a district title. If he can't play Rochester will struggle mightily if it can make it to the district final. If Arben Camaj can continue his stellar play, Rochester could make it into the district final without Young, but it'd be hard for the Falcons to pick up a district title without their star seeing the floor at all in any of the next three games. But I think Young will be back in time for the district final, which means big things for Rochester.
PICK -- Rochester

Ferndale District
Teams -- Ferndale, Ferndale University, Southfield Bradofrd, Detroit Old Redford, Warren Fitzgerald, Hazel Park
Breakdown -- This district is as much of a toss up as you're going to find, outside of Warren Fitzgerald. Ferndale, which struggled all season long, could be a sleeper here, but this district will belong to Fitzgerald.
PICK -- Fitzgerald

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep District
Teams -- Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Macomb Lutheran North, Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Clawson, Madison Heights Lamphere
Breakdown -- Take a guess. Hint: this team  has a history of dominating the district tournament.
PICK -- Country Day

Livonia Clarenceville District
Teams -- Livonia Clarenceville, South Lyon East, Detroit Community, Detroit CMA, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, Detroit Cesar Chavez
Breakdown -- This one is just as easy to predict as the previous district.
PICK -- Detroit Community

Royal Oak Shrine District
Teams -- Royal Oak Shrine, Pontiac Academy For Excellence, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, West Bloomfield Jewish Academy, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, Madison Heights Madison, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian
Breakdown -- Bishop Foley is the favorite to pick up yet another district title, and could make it look easy, but don't sleep on Pontiac Academy For Excellence, who had its breakout season this year and could put some pressure on the Ventures, but I still believe DeAndre Jackson and Bishop Foley will advance.
PICK -- Bishop Foley

Birmingham Roeper District
Teams -- Auburn Hills Christian, Birmingham Roeper, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian, Warren Macomb Christian, Eastpointe Eaton Academy
Breakdown -- Garrett Ross, Jake Doetsch and Nick Robak helped helped lead the Lakers to the CHSL C-D final a couple of weeks ago, and will help lead Lakes to a District title this week.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate District
Teams -- Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Flint Michigan School for the Deaf, Burton Madison, Burton St. Thomas More, Genessee Christian, Burton Faith
Breakdown -- Much like the Clarkston Everest girls basketball team, the Mountaineers boys team should make the district round of play look relatively easy.
PICK -- Clarkston Everest

TBA District
Teams -- Southfield Christian, Detroit Universal Academy, Novi Franklin Road Christian, Detroit Davis Aerospace
Breakdown -- There's no potential upset, there's no surprise in the making. Southfield Christian will role in its first two games as the Eagles will look to repeat as state champions.
PICK -- Southfield Christian

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Elite Eight -- On To The Next One

Breaking down the top performances from Friday's girls basketball district finals action

8. Marissa Cotton -- Farmington Hills Harrison
Cotton continued her strong play in district play as the Harrison senior scored a game-high 14 points to lead the Harrison attack, which saw three different players score in double figures (Amber Stephens - 13, Kyla Roland 10 pts, 10 rebounds). Cotton, who scored 52 points in the three district games, helped lead the Hawks to their first ever basketball district championship.

7. Kara Holinski -- Birmingham Marian
Holinski scored a team-high 14 points on Friday night as she helped lead a balanced scoring attack for Marian, who rolled to a dominating win over West Bloomfield as the Mustangs advanced to the regional semifinals. The Marian sophomore buried three 3-pointers in the first half, where she tallied 13 of her 14 points as Marian put West Bloomfield away early on.

6. Ava Doetsch -- Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
Doetsch, who recently went over the 1,000 career point mark, scored a game-high 15 points for the Lakers, who survived an upset bid from Birmingham Roeper in Friday's district final. Doetsch came up clutch down the stretch for the Lakers as she knocked down four of her final six free throw attempts to ice the game away and Lakes once again won a district title.

5. Allie Gorcyca/Taylor Jones -- Farmington Hills Mercy
Jones poured in a game-high 18 points, while Gorcyca added in 14 more to lead the Mercy attack to a convincing district final win over Detroit Mumford on Friday night. Jones helped lead the Marlin's offense when it came to driving to the hoop, while Gorcyca was her usual sharp-shooting self as the Marlins moved on to the regional semifinals.

4. Erika Davenport -- Clarkston
After Davenport's performance against Oxford in the district final, the sophomore should be nicknamed "The Eraser," as the sophomore swatted five shots to help lead a Clarkston defensive attack which allowed just 17 Oxford points and just two second half field goals. Davenport also recorded a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds as Clarkston picked up another district title.

3. Kristen Massey -- Novi Franklin Road Christian
Massey did just about everything she could on Friday night to give Franklin Road a shot to pick up a district title. Massey poured in an impressive 38 points, while knocking down 15 of her 20 free throw attempts in a narrow loss to Plymouth Christian.

2. Lucia Westrick -- Clarkston Everest Collegiate
Westrick was simply unstoppable on Friday as the Clarkston Everest star recorded a double-double of 34 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers to a district title. Westrick drained 16 shots from the field to account for 32 of her 34 points as Clarkston Everest picked up its 18th win of the season.

1. Christina Green - Southfield-Lathrup
Green was flat out dominant in Friday's district final win over Royal Oak, as the senior center recorded a monstrous double-double of 24 points and 16 rebounds while blocking three shots. Green came up big in the third quarter as she accounted for 10 of her 24 points as she helped Lathrup take its lead to double digits for the first time all game as the Chargers advanced to the regional round for the third straight year.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Girls Basketball District Finals Predictions

Farmington Hills Mercy vs. Redford Union/Detroit Mumford
The Marlins have made it look easy through the first two round of the state tournament, and you can exprect more of the same in the district final regardless of who Mercy will be playing. Look offensive success early and often from Candice Leatherwood in this one.
Pick: Mercy

Southfield-Lathrup vs. Royal Oak
I rarely go back on predictions I make earlier in the week, but this is one of those rare occasions. I have flip flopped on this district final for about a week now and now I give the edge to Royal Oak, who will be playing in the district final on its home court and along with the fact that senior Sami Stormont has put together two near triple-doubles in the first two games of districts.
Pick: Royal Oak

Waterford Mott vs. Auburn Hills Avondale
The Corsairs came away with the big upset on Monday, and you can bet that Lauren Hung and Co. won't let the chance to win a district title tonight slip away. Look for Hung along with Vanessa Bolling and Jaime Carter to lead Mott to the regional round of the playoffs.
Pick: Mott

Farmington Hills Harrison vs. Walled Lake Western
There will be plenty of young talent showcased in this district final, with Harrison's trio of Amber Stephens, Kristen Nelson and Kyla Roland and Western star sophomore Jayla Nichols. But the player who has had arguably the best two games in this district has been Harrison senior Marissa Cotton. Look for Cotton to put together yet another near-20 point game tonight to lead Harrison to its first ever district title.
Pick: Harrison

Hartland vs. South Lyon
It's possible we could see an upset in this game, but since struggling in the KLAA tournament, Hartland and junior Lindsey Pajot seems to have returned to regular season form.
Pick: Hartland

West Bloomfield vs. Birmingham Marian
Marian looks like a team on a mission this year and made it look easy in Wednesday's district semifinal win over Bloomfield Hills Andover. Kara Holinski, and Kylin Bulluck will pick up where they left off and lead the Mustangs to a district title tonight.
Pick: Marian

Oxford vs. Clarkston
There could be an upset pulled off here, as Oxford is one of the best defensive teams you will find in this area. But Clarkston seems like it has too much depth for most teams to hand as Erika and Erin Davenport along with Delaney Kenny will help lead the Wolves to a district title.
Pick: Clarkston in OT

Stoney Creek vs. Utica Ford
The Stoney Creek defense has been on another level through the first two games of the playoffs as the Cougars have held their first two opponents to just 25 points in each game. Look for more of the same defense from Stoney Creek as well as a balanced scoring attack to lead the Cougars to a district title.
Pick: Stoney Creek

Ferndale vs. Ferndale University/Southfield Bradford
Just like the Mercy district final, it's not going to make much of a difference who Ferndale will play in the final simply because this district belongs to the Eagles and Micaela Ellis.
Pick: Ferndale

Birmingham Detroit Country Day vs. Macomb Lutheran North
Take a guess. Hint: Asia Doss and Brittany Washington will once again be leading their team to a district title.
Pick: Country Day

Madison Heights Madison vs. Detroit Allen Academy
Madison looked nearly unstoppable in its 50 point win over Detroit Winans academy on Wednesday, and I doubt, Detroit Allen will be able to slow Madison down tonight.
Pick: Madison

Auburn Hills Oakland Christian vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Look for a defensive battle in this game, but the team with just a little bit more offensive punch will be Bishop Foley, thanks to Emma Wonsil.
Pick: Bishop Foley

Novi Franklin Road Christian vs. Plymouth Christian
This was a district final that I flat out got wrong and after seeing Kristen Massey's 37 point output on Wednesday, I may have overlooked Novi Franklin Road. Look for another brilliant performance from Massey to lead the Warriors to a district title.
Pick: Franklin Road

Birmingham Roeper vs. Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
Both teams look like they are on a mission to pick up a district title, but Ava Doetsch (who just went over the 1,000 career point mark), Lexie Robak and Jessica Parry have all been there and done that (Four times) and they will have the edge tonight.
Pick: WOLL

Clarkston Everest Collegiate vs. Burton St. Thomas More
Speaking of teams who have made it look easy so far in the state tournament, Everest has been dominant so far as it has allowed less than 35 points in the first two games of district play, and you can expect that to continue tonight.
Pick: CEC