Class A Preview: Contenders Peaking
Class A Preview: Contenders Peaking
Boys Basketball
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This weekend’s Class A bracket could be full of surprises. We’ve already had a few.

Not shocking to anyone: Reigning champion Clarkston is back and the team to beat.

But the three that will try include two traveling to the Semifinals for the first time – Holland West Ottawa and Novi – and another, Warren DeLaSalle, that avenged three losses to a nemesis to earn this opportunity.  

Class A Semifinals – Friday
Warren DeLaSalle (19-7) vs. Clarkston (24-1), noon
Holland West Ottawa (24-2) vs. Novi (17-8), 2 p.m.

Class A Final – Saturday, 12:15 p.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.)

CLARKSTON
Record/rank:
24-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Dan Fife, 36th season (701-170)
Championship history: Class A champion 2017. 
Best wins: 52-31 (Quarterfinal) and 72-67 over No. 6 Flint Carman-Ainsworth, 48-38 and 70-39 over No. 4 Hazel Park, 66-65 over Wayne Memorial.
Players to watch: Foster Loyer, 6-0 sr. G (25.6 ppg, 6.0 apg, 77 3-pointers); CJ Robinson, 5-11 sr. G (13.8 ppg, 57 3-pointers); Taylor Currie, 6-9 sr. C (13.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg).
Outlook: Coming off its first championship, Clarkston almost assuredly is the favorite again and has been rarely challenged – even when Loyer missed the second Hazel Park game with a knee injury. The only loss came Dec. 28 to formidable Detroit East English, and the only games decided by single digits came against Carman-Ainsworth the first meeting and to league rivals Troy (twice) and West Bloomfield. Loyer, headed next to Michigan State, was named Mr. Basketball on Monday, and Currie is headed to Wisconsin after graduation.

HOLLAND WEST OTTAWA
Record/rank: 
24-2, No. 8
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Steve Windemuller, fifth season (81-32)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 58-55 over No. 10 East Lansing in Quarterfinal, 46-42 (OT) over No. 9 Muskegon in Regional Final, 45-27 over No. 6 Flint Carman-Ainsworth, 59-49 over Class B No. 7 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Tyler Bosma, 6-6 sr. F (17.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg); Xavier Wade, 6-3 sr. G (12.1 ppg, 5.2 apg).
Outlook: This is the longest run in West Ottawa history and included its first Regional title last week. The Panthers are a combined 47-4 over the last two seasons and this winter their only losses came by three to league rival East Kentwood and in the opener to Class B power Wyoming Godwin Heights. The run has been keyed by a number of great athletes who achieve across multiple sports; for example, Bosma will play baseball after graduation at Miami (Ohio), and Wade is headed to Ferris State for both basketball and football. Six players average at least five points per game.

NOVI
Record/rank: 
17-8, unranked
League finish: Second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association Gold
Coach: Brandon Sinawi, fourth season (63-32)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 75-73 over honorable mention Belleville in Quarterfinal, 61-59 over No. 2 Ann Arbor Skyline in Regional Final, 60-58 (District Semifinal) and 61-56 over No. 7 Canton.
Players to watch: Trendon Hankerson, 6-3 sr. G (14.2 ppg); Traveon Maddox, Jr., 6-5 sr. G (17.5 ppg). Outlook: Novi is 16-3 since Hankerson returned from an injury and avenged early-season losses to Skyline and Howell. The Wildcats have won 11 of their last 12, falling only to Grand Blanc in the KLAA tournament final, and last week’s Regional title was the program’s first. Junior 6-4 forward Jiovanni Miles is another big-time scorer, averaging 15.3 points per game with 55 3-pointers entering the week, and 6-9 senior Tariq Woody (10.9 ppg) adds plenty of presence in the middle.

WARREN DELASALLE
Record/rank: 
19-7, unranked
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Greg Esler, 24th season (394-179)
Championship history: Class B runner-up 1982.
Best wins: 63-58 over No. 3 Detroit U-D Jesuit in Quarterfinal, 47-46 over Class C honorable mention Detroit Edison, 69-59 over Class B No. 8 Williamston.
Players to watch: Luke Pfromm, 6-5 sr. F (15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg); Justin Fisher, 6-4 sr. G (10.6 ppg, 5.3 apg).
Outlook: DeLaSalle has been on the verge of elite all season long and pushed its way in by avenging three losses to U-D Jesuit with the Quarterfinal victory. Three of the Pilots’ losses this season were by a combined five points. Esler has more than 500 win total over a 31-year head coaching career, and Pfromm has plenty of championship experience from quarterbacking the football team to the Division 2 title in the fall. Senior 6-5 forwards Kole Gjonaj (10.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Jordan Winowiecki (9.5 ppg) add more size to the starting lineup.

PHOTO: Holland West Ottawa’s Xavier Wade (0) goes hard to the basket against Grand Haven. (Photo courtesy of the Grand Haven Tribune.)


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