Class D Preview: Next Contenders Line Up
Class D Preview: Next Contenders Line Up
Boys Basketball
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A team that appeared in last season’s Class D championship game will be back at the Breslin Center this weekend – but not three-time reigning champion Powers North Central, which was eliminated in a District Semifinal earlier this month.

Instead, 2017 runner-up Buckley will return with nearly an identical cast to the one that lost only one game a season ago – in the Final. Back as well is Southfield Christian, an annual power which put a huge scare into North Central – the Jets beat the Eagles on a buzzer-beater in last year’s Semifinal.

But to play for a championship, those two repeat contenders will face tough challenges. Southfield Christian takes on another Upper Peninsula power in Dollar Bay, while Buckley faces Hillsdale Academy and its formidable frontcourt.

Class D Semifinals – Thursday
Dollar Bay (26-0) vs. Southfield Christian (21-4), 5:30 p.m
Hillsdale Academy (24-2) vs. Buckley (20-5), 7:30 p.m.

Class D Final – Saturday, 10 a.m.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class D and Class A). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. The Class D, A and C championship games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, while the Class B Final will be shown on Fox Sports Detroit on a delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. All four championship games will be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. 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.)

BUCKLEY
Record/rank: 
20-5, No. 8
League finish: Tied for first in Northwest Conference
Coach: Blair Moss, fifth season (73-24)
Championship history: Class D runner-up 2017.
Best wins: 67-50 over No. 3 (tie) Hillman in Quarterfinal, 79-34 and 68-40 over honorable mention Onekama, 73-59 and 68-51 over Class C No. 5 Maple City Glen Lake, 62-60 over Class C honorable mention Manton.
Players to watch: Austin Harris, 6-3 sr. F (17 ppg, 4.8 apg); Denver Cade, 6-3 sr. F (16.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.1 apg); Joey Weber, 5-11 sr. G (14.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: A trio of 1,000-point career scorers (listed above) have Buckley back at Breslin after they led the Bears to their first Semifinal and championship game run a year ago. In fact, senior forward Brock Beeman and junior forward Ridge Beeman fill out a starting lineup identical to the one that took the floor against Powers North Central in last year’s Final. Buckley started 3-3 this winter against a loaded schedule and shared the Northwest Conference title with Glen Lake and No. 6 Frankfort. During the postseason, Hillman is the only opponent that has come closer than 20 points of catching the Bears.

DOLLAR BAY
Record/rank: 
26-0, No. 2
League finish: First in Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country
Coach: Jesse Kentala, 11th season (85-132) 
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 74-68 over honorable mention Cedarville in Quarterfinal, 63-60 over No. 10 Rapid River in Regional Semifinal, 51-42 over No. 5 Ewen-Trout Creek.
Players to watch: Devin Schmitz, 6-0 sr. G; Jaden Janke, 6-5 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted).
Outlook: Dollar Bay has made quite a march to emerge as a possible heir apparent after North Central’s three straight Class D titles coming down from the Upper Peninsula. This will be the Blue Bolts’ first trip to the Semifinals after they played in their first Quarterfinal since 1979. Only 10-10 two seasons ago, Dollar Bay improved to 19-5 last year before falling to North Central by two points in a Regional Semifinal. Schmitz is considered arguably the top player in program history and broke the career scoring record this winter.

HILLSDALE ACADEMY
Record/rank: 
24-2, No. 9
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association East
Coach: Tim Wells, fourth season (72-24)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 56-49 over honorable mention Adrian Lenawee Christian in Regional Final, 56-46 over No. 3 (tie) Bellevue, 58-42 (District Final), 60-39 and 57-40 over Camden-Frontier.
Players to watch: Peter Kalthoff, 6-7 sr. C (21.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg); Michael Craig, 5-11 sr. G (13 ppg, 2.6 apg).
Outlook: Hillsdale Academy’s first trip to the Quarterfinals and now Semifinals has included the win over Lenawee Christian – to avenge one of the Colts’ two losses –  and no other game closer than 16 points. Their only other defeat this winter came to neighbor Hillsdale High, a Class B school. Kalthoff is a force, making 67 percent of his field goals tries, but six players have scored at least 13 points in a game this season. Senior forward Nolan Sullivan and sophomore forward Lukas Tharp both add about eight points per game.

SOUTHFIELD CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 
21-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Josh Baker, seventh season (132-23)
Championship history: Class D champions 2014, 2013 and 2012. 
Best wins: 88-53 over Flint International Academy in Quarterfinal, 79-50 (Regional Semifinal), 72-22 and 56-39 over honorable mention Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, 68-45 over Class B No. 4 River Rouge, 65-60 over Detroit Martin Luther King.
Players to watch: Bryce Washington, 6-3 jr. G (21.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg); Harlond Beverly, 6-4 jr. G (16 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.4 apg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian’s return to the Semifinals last season after a two-year hiatus ended with a one-point overtime loss to eventual champion North Central. The Eagles’ return three starters from that game – Washington, Beverly and junior guard Caleb Hunter (13.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.4 spg, 57 3-pointers.). Again playing a schedule loaded with larger schools, Southfield Christian lost this winter only to Class A West Bloomfield, Class B Detroit Country Day and Class C Detroit Edison and Detroit Pershing; all but West Bloomfield won at least District titles this month.

PHOTO: Buckley’s Joey Weber brings the ball upcourt during last season’s Class D championship game at the Breslin Center.


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