Class A-B Preview: Chasing Favorites
Class A-B Preview: Chasing Favorites
Boys Basketball
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Similar to the Class C and D Semifinals to be played Thursday, Friday's Class A and B games will feature five teams aspiring to win their first MHSAA championships.

But the field also includes four teams that advanced to Breslin Center in 2014, the undefeated top-ranked team in Class A and the reigning champion from Class B complete with its heroes from last season's run. 

All four Class A and B Semifinals will be played Friday, with all four championship games Saturday. 

Semifinals - Friday
Class A

Lansing Everett (24-2) vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill (23-3), 1 p.m. 
Detroit U-D Jesuit (22-3) vs. Detroit Western International (24-0), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Milan (24-2) vs. Wyoming Godwin Heights (24-1), 6 p.m. 
Cadillac (18-8) vs. Detroit Henry Ford (20-5), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6:30 p.m. 
Class C - 4:30 p.m. 
Class D - 10 a.m. 

Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, the Class D and A title games on FOX Sports Detroit's primary channel and the Class C and B games on FOX Sports Detroit-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

And now, a look at the semifinalists in Class A and B. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)

Class A

DETROIT U-D JESUIT
Record/rank: 
22-3, No. 8.
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Coach: Pat Donnelly, seventh season (115-42).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 56-54 over No. 5 Clarkston in the Quarterfinal, 52-34 over No. 10 North Farmington in the Regional Final, 72-57 over No. 6 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 69-56 over Class B No. 1 Milan.
Players to watch: Cassius Winston, 6-1 jr. G (22.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.7 apg); Gary Collins, 6-2 sr. G (9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.6 apg).  
Outlook: Jesuit will attempt to take the next two steps after winning its first Regional title and making the Semifinals last season with Winston also the leading scorer on that team. Although in a 58-49 loss to end the regular season, Jesuit has faced Semifinal opponent Western, which should be beneficial, and also defeated Arthur Hill on Feb. 7. The only other defeats were to Romulus and Catholic League Central runner-up Birmingham Brother Rice.

DETROIT WESTERN INTERNATIONAL
Record/rank:
24-0, No. 1.
League finish: First in Detroit Public School League West D1 and overall.
Coach: Derrick McDowell, fourth season (46-35).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 58-49 over No. 8 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 69-57 over No. 6 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 72-55 over Class B honorable mention Detroit Henry Ford.
Players to watch: Brailen Neely, 5-10 jr. G (15.9 ppg, 4.3 apg); Josh McFolley, 6-1 sr. G (14.5 ppg, 3.2 apg).
Outlook: This has been a season of milestones for Western under former Detroit Redford coach McDowell. The Cowboys won their first Detroit PSL championship since 1922 and will play in their first Semifinal since 1974. They’ve beaten two of the three teams left in Class A and present a variety of challenges to opponents this weekend – including 6-8 senior center Gerald Blackshear, averaging 11.8 points and 5.2 blocks per game.

LANSING EVERETT
Record/rank: 
24-2, No. 9.
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue.
Coach: Desmond Ferguson, third season (36-33).
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2004).
Best wins: 75-52 over No. 2 Muskegon in the Quarterfinal, 91-78 over No. 7 Kalamazoo Central in the Regional Final, 82-77 over honorable mention Ann Arbor Huron in the Regional Semifinal, 57-51 (District Final) and 82-78 over honorable mention Grand Ledge, 64-57 over Class B No. 10 Benton Harbor.
Players to watch: Trevor Manuel, 6-9 sr. F; Jamyrin Jackson, 6-3 jr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: The Vikings have played their way through a strong field after going only 5-16 a year ago; they’ve also avenged both losses from the season's first half, to Grand Ledge and Kalamazoo Central. Manuel was part of a Class B championship team at Lansing Sexton as a freshman before transferring out-of-state as a junior and then moving back to Michigan last summer. He finished third in the Mr. Basketball voting and has signed to play at the University of Oregon next season.

SAGINAW ARTHUR HILL
Record/rank: 
23-3, No. 6.
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley Association North.
Coach: Greg McMath, 13th season (251-52).
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), five runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 78-59 over Walled Lake Central in the Quarterfinal, 88-66, 90-81 and 83-47 (District Semifinal) over Saginaw, 67-62 over Class B No. 7 Flint Northwestern.
Players to watch: Eric Davis, 6-3 sr. G; Brian Bowen II, 6-7 soph. F; De’Quevion Johnson, 6-4 sr. F. (Statistics not submitted).  
Outlook: Arthur Hill enters under the rare scenario of having played all three teams also left in the Class A bracket. Although those three teams dealt the Lumberjacks their losses, Arthur Hill will be plenty prepared for rematches. Davis, who will play next season at the University of Texas, was the Mr. Basketball runner-up. The Lumberjacks are in the Semifinals for the first time since 2006, having dispatched familiar postseason foe Saginaw High during the District.

Class B

CADILLAC
Record/rank: 
18-8, unranked.
League finish: Fourth in the Big North Conference.
Coach: Ryan Benzenberg, first season (18-8).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 59-50 over Essexville-Garber in the Quarterfinal, 48-36 over Petoskey, 50-44 over Class C honorable mention McBain.
Players to watch: Andrew Emington, 6-1 sr. G (12.8 ppg, 36 3-pointers); Quinn Crago, 6-6 jr. C (9.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Outlook: Cadillac is back at the Semifinals for the third straight season and first under Benzenberg, who formerly coached Fife Lake Forest Area and lower levels at Elk Rapids. The Vikings are 13-2 over their last 15 games after a tough start in the mostly-Class A Big North Conference. Emington brings some experience back to Breslin after averaging just fewer than 10 points per game last season.

DETROIT HENRY FORD
Record/rank:
20-5, honorable mention.
League finish: Second in Detroit PSL West D1.
Coach: Kenneth Flowers, eighth season (108-59).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 61-55 over No. 2 New Haven in the Quarterfinal, 80-73 over Class A honorable mention Ann Arbor Huron, 54-51 over Class C No. 1 Flint Beecher, 59-54 over Class C honorable mention Detroit Loyola.
Players to watch: Joshua Davis, 6-5 sr. F (17 ppg, 6.8 rpg); James Towns, 6-0 jr. G (16.5 ppg, 3.5 apg).
Outlook: Henry Ford is at the Semifinals for the first time, having played in only one other Quarterfinal (1984) before Tuesday’s defeat of previously-undefeated New Haven. Ford bounced back from two straight sub-.500 records with its first District title since 2009 and finished second in its league only to Detroit Western International. The team has only three seniors, including 6-1 guard Antaun Carter, who adds another offensive threat scoring 8.5 points per game.

MILAN
Record/rank: 
24-2, No. 1.
League finish: First in Huron League.
Coach: Chris Pope, first season (24-2).
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2014).
Best wins: 69-60 over No. 9 Otsego in the Quarterfinal, 54-43 and 65-49 over Class C No. 9 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Latin Davis, 6-0 sr. G (19.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg); Nick Perkins, 6-9 sr. C (16.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg). 
Outlook: Milan was a feel-good story of last season’s Finals, winning its first championship since 1948. The main change this winter was the coach – longtime assistant Pope took over a squad returning top scorers Davis and Perkins and a third starter from last season’s championship game, 6-4 senior forward Lance Lewis. He adds another 7.3 points per game, and senior guard Thomas Lindeman chips in 7.9. Davis has signed to play next season at Youngstown State University, and Perkins has signed with the University of Buffalo.  

WYOMING GODWIN HEIGHTS
Record/rank: 
24-1, No. 3.
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver.
Coach: Tyler Whittemore, first season (24-1).
Championship history: Two MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 1960).
Best wins: 63-56 over No. 6 Wayland in the District Final, 76-39 over honorable mention Alma in the Regional Semifinal, 75-61 over No. 9 Otsego, 65-55 over Class A No. 10 North Farmington, 62-53 over Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian.
Players to watch: Delaney Blaylock, 6-5 sr. G (16.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg); Michael Williams, 6-4 sr. F (10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg).
Outlook: Godwin Heights is seeking its first championship game appearance in more than a half-century, but has been circling for some time with three straight Quarterfinals and now two Semifinal berths in three seasons. The team lost only to league rival NorthPointe Christian, a Class C semifinalist, and avenged that loss. The Wolverines make nearly 50 percent of their shots from the floor and get another 9.8 points per game from junior guard Leon Redd, one of five averaging at least 8.3. Blaylock also started in the team’s 2013 Semifinal, and Whittemore, a first-year head coach, was the varsity assistant for seven seasons before the promotion.

PHOTO: Saginaw Arthur Hill standout Eric Davis drives to the hoop during his team’s Regional win over Davison. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)


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