Boys Basketball

Breslin Bound: Boys A-B Semis Preview

March 19, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Winning an MHSAA championship Saturday will be thrilling enough for whichever teams emerge from eight Class A and B semifinalists heading to the Breslin Center on Friday. 

But the two that finish this weekend as champions will be able to celebrate some additional historical significance. 

Four of those eight teams are seeking their first MHSAA title. The most recent championship among the four that have won before came way back in 1965. 

Below is the schedule for all four Friday Semifinals and Saturday Finals, plus broadcast information and a look at all eight A and B semifinalists. (See Class C and D previews and schedule in a separate post.)

Semifinals - Friday
Class A

Mount Pleasant (22-4) vs. Muskegon (26-0), 1 p.m.
Detroit U-D Jesuit (22-2) vs. Bloomfield Hills (23-3), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Benton Harbor (16-9) vs. Cadillac (19-6), 6 p.m.
Detroit Douglass (17-9) vs. Milan (23-3), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6:30 pm
Class C - 4:30 pm 
Class D - 10 am 

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-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class A and B.

Class A

23-3, No. 8
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Duane Graves, first season (23-3) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final (first season as a school). 
Best wins: 74-62, 73-57 and 53-52 (Regional Final) over honorable mention Clarkston, 67-60 over Class B No. 7 Milan.
Players to watch: Armand Cartwright, 6-2 sr. G; Yante Maten, 6-8 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Neither Bloomfield Hills Lahser nor Andover ever made it to a Quarterfinal, much less the final weekend of the season. But the school created when those two joined last summer has done so immediately under Graves, who coached Lahser before the merger. Cartwright scored his 1,000th career point this season. Maten is an absolute force in the post, and those two led Lahser to a District title last season as well.

Record/rank: 22-2, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Pat Donnelly, sixth season (90-43) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.   
Best wins: 54-53 (Quarterfinal) and 67-57 over No. 6 Romulus,52-51 over No. 10 Detroit Cass Tech in Regional Final, 47-45 over No. 7 Detroit Southeastern in Regional Semifinal, 59-32 over honorable mention Detroit Renaissance in District opener.
Players to watch: Cassius Winston, 6-1 soph. G (18.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 8.7 apg, 4.3 spg); Noah King, 6-4 sr. F (12.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
Outlook: Jesuit won its first Regional championship last week after losing during the regular season only to Catholic League rival Warren DeLaSalle and in overtime to Ohio’s Toledo St. John. The starting lineup includes four seniors along with leading scorer Winston, and sophomore guard Billy Thomas is the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.7 points per game off the bench.

Record/rank: 22-4, honorable mention
League finish: Tied for second in Saginaw Valley Association North
Coach: Dan Schell, second season (33-14) 
Championship history: Class B Lower Peninsula champion 1932, three runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 69-60 over No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 64-61 over honorable mention Flint Carman-Ainsworth in Regional Final, 64-54 over Cadillac.
Players to watch: Jaleel Hogan, 6-6 sr. F (16.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg); Aaron Leasher, 6-3 sr. G (11.2 ppg, 3.8 apg. 2.9 spg).
Outlook: The Oilers fell just one win shy of tying for the SVA North championship, but did return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1982 – and are seeking their first championship game berth since finishing runner-up in 1981. Hogan, who will play next season at the University of Detroit Mercy, is one of eight seniors who have helped the team improve 11 wins from last season.

Record/rank: 26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Black
Coach: Keith Guy, second season (45-7) 
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1937), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 88-78 over No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 65-50 over honorable mention Westland John Glenn, 68-59 over Class C No. 1 Mount Clemens, 73-55 over Benton Harbor.
Players to watch: Deshaun Thrower, 6-0 sr. G (18.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.0 apg, 3.0 spg); Deyonta Davis, 6-9 jr. F/C (14.2 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 7.0 bpg); Joeviair Kennedy, 6-3 jr. F (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
Outlook: Muskegon is back in the Semifinals for the first time since 1947 and has made this undefeated run with only four seniors. But one is Mr. Basketball and standout football quarterback Thrower, and Davis is likely the Mr. Basketball favorite for 2014-15. Guy formerly led Muskegon Heights to a number of successful seasons during the 2000s.  

Class B

Record/rank: 16-9, unranked
League finish: Tied for third in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Coach: Corey Sterling, second season (34-16) 
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1965), six runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 68-61 over No. 1 Wyoming Godwin Heights in Semifinal, 78-73 over T-No. 5 Otsego in Regional Final, 72-63 over Class A No. 9 Battle Creek Central.
Players to watch: Cortez Moore, 6-6 sr. F (21 ppg, 12 rpg, 4.0 apg, 4.0 spg, 3.0 bpg); Jaton Gunn, 6-2 soph. F/G (18 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: Given Benton Harbor’s strong hoops reputation, it’s hard to believe this is the team’s first Semifinal run since 1993. And it came with consecutive upsets of top-five teams, including handing Godwin Heights its only loss this winter. Sterling was a member of that 1993 Class A runner-up team playing for longtime coach Paul Wilhite. Sophomore point guard Curtis Dawson runs the show adding 11 points, seven assists and six steals per game.

Record/rank: 19-6, unranked
League finish: Tied for second in Big North Conference
Coach: Jeff McDonald, 20th season (322-131) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-49 OT over Big Rapids in Quarterfinal, 46-42 over Mason County Central in Regional Final, 55-52 over Escanaba in Regional Semifinal, 50-42 over Petoskey.
Players to watch: Jalen Brooks, 6-4 sr. F (17.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg); Justin Liptak, 6-5 sr. C (9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg).  
Outlook: Cadillac has won its last four games by six or fewer points to return to the Semifinals for the second straight season. A win Friday would give the Vikings at least 20 in four straight seasons, along with four straight District and Regionals titles. Junior guard Andrew Emington adds another 9.2 points per game from the backcourt.

Record/rank: 17-9, honorable mention
League finish: Third in Detroit Public School League East Division 1 
Coach: Nkwane Young, 10th season (154-72) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 41-39 over No. 10 Ferndale University in District Final, 69-56 over No. 9 Detroit Country Day in Regional Final, 48-45 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Southeastern, 49-46 and 62-26 over Class A honorable mention Detroit Renaissance.
Player to watch: Darrell Davis, 6-5 sr. G (24.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2.0 spg). 
Outlook: Douglass has taken the next step after winning its fifth straight District title and second Regional championship during that string. Davis, who will play at University of Dayton next season, was a Mr. Basketball finalist and plays both guard spots. He’s also one of seven seniors, with forward DeShawn Sanders and point guard Terrell Hales also starters.

Record/rank: 23-3, No. 7
League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Josh Tropea, fifth season (90-27) 
Championship history: Class C champion 1948.
Best wins: 62-53 over honorable mention Wayland in Quarterfinal, 55-40 over honorable mention Detroit Community in Regional Final, 42-40 (District Semifinal), 57-37 and 59-50 over honorable mention Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 57-54 over Class A No. 9 Battle Creek Central.
Players to watch: Latin Davis, 5-9 jr. G (15.9 ppg, 3.8 apg); Nick Perkins, 6-7 jr. F (15 ppg, 9.1 rpg).  
Outlook: Milan upped its winning streak to 18 by winning its first Quarterfinal appearance since 1948. The Big Reds lost to a couple of strong Class A schools in Saginaw and Bloomfield Hills during the regular season, which no doubt helped prepare for a competitive string of Class B opponents the last three weeks. The team has only three seniors, with 6-3 guard Donovan Verges adding 9.4 ppg. 

PHOTO: Detroit Douglass' Darrell Davis looks for an open teammate during Tuesday's Quarterfinal win over Goodrich. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)