January 27, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Markowski

Basketball schedules get crowded after weather postponements

Detroit Cass Tech is in third place in the PSL Division 1, but the league champ will be decided in a hurry with this week's makeup games. (Jose Juarez / Special to Detroit News)

Detroit – The brutal weather conditions that forced cancellation of classes and postponement of games this month will squeeze scheduling for many teams.

“We’re going to play an NBA-like schedule the rest of the way,” Dearborn Heights Crestwood coach Mike Bright said via a text after Crestwood’s game was postponed on Friday.

For some teams, in Detroit and the suburbs, it seems that way.

Teams in the Detroit Public School League have games scheduled for Tuesday, Friday and Saturday this week with the conclusion to the regular season slated for Feb. 4. The playoffs begin Feb. 6.

With the possibility of Tuesday’s games being postponed until Wednesday teams could be faced with playing four games in seven days.

“It’s been like that, because of the snow and the cold, since Martin Luther King Day,” Detroit Cass Tech coach David Dixon said. “We played three games that week and then came back and played Tuesday. That was four in eight days.

“An NBA schedule? That’s essentially what it is. It’s a tough situation. One, there’s mental fatigue. And, two, the preparation time isn’t there. It’s that teaching time you miss. Ideally, you want one day to teach and then one to prepare. But it’s the same for everyone.”

Cass Tech is 8-2 overall, 4-1 in the PSL Division 1, a game behind Detroit Pershing (5-0) and Detroit Southwestern (5-0) with four games left.

Coach's choice

Al Fracassa wasn’t on the selection committee that was formed to search for a new football coach at Birmingham Brother Rice, but if he had been the result would have been the same.

Offensive coordinator Dave Sofran, Fracassa’s right-hand man the last 10 years or so, was named head coach to replace Fracassa on Friday.

Fracassa, who was recently named national coach of the year by USA Today, retired in November after guiding Brother Rice to its third consecutive title. With 430 career victories Fracassa’s is among the winningest coaches in the country and No. 1 in Michigan.

“(Sofran) was with me for 14 years,” Fracassa said. “He knows Brother Rice inside and out. If I could tell (the committee) now I’d tell them I think you chose the right guy. Dave will do just fine.

“What I liked about the committee is they had a definite guy in mind. It’ll be a smooth transition.”

The committee narrowed the number of candidates to six two weeks ago and athletic director Reggie Cavender, who was not a member of the committee, said the interview process was extensive.

Opinion, not policy

Whether you agree or disagree with the Michigan High School Athletic Association ruling that the student-athletes at U-D Jesuit, and at other schools like Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian and Grand Rapids Catholic Central, are ineligible this calendar year, it is a ruling that was made within the MHSAA’s existing rules.

But a recent blog posted by MHSAA executive director Jack Roberts regarding students attending high schools in the United States on F-1 visas is not in line with existing MHSAA regulations and should be viewed as one person’s opinion.

Roberts suggests that these students be ruled ineligible through all four years of high school.

The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA, not Roberts.

At its fall meeting the council reviewed a series of proposals regarding the eligibility of students in Michigan on F-1 visas. There is a Federal law that allows students on F-1 visas to attend non-public schools for multiple years. This law does not allow these students a free education; i.e., to attend a public school.

The term “competitive equity” is a point brought up at the council’s fall meeting. To many this triggers the often-debated topic of public versus private schools. But some in closed public school districts like those at Dearborn Heights Crestwood, North Farmington and others claim there’s a competitive imbalance with public schools that have open enrollment.

Dark horse

Few gave Detroit Renaissance a chance to be a factor in the PSL this season, even new coach Venias Jordan Jr.

“When I first got the job (June 15) I thought, we’re in trouble,” Jordan said. “We gradually got some kids back in the program. I knew this was a place where I could get things going.”

Renaissance is 9-1, 4-1 in the PSL Division 1 after whipping a good Detroit Henry Ford team, 62-33, on Saturday.

Sophomore Justin Turner has been Renaissance’s best player all season. He scored 13, 10 below his average, against Henry Ford. Making their season debut on Saturday were two other sophomores, both of whom are 6-foot-6, who were ineligible because of the transfer rule. Alaric Jackson left Renaissance after his first semester his freshman year and came back last fall. Michael Jacobs is a transfer from Detroit Edison Public School Academy.

“I didn’t have us on the radar before the season,” Jordan said. “Turner was the only guy who had real varsity experience.”


Bloomfield Hills (9-1) might be the area’s best team that’s received the least fanfare. It’s in its first season after the two Bloomfield Hills public high schools, Andover and Lahser, merged after last year. And not many in the past have equated high level basketball with either school even though Lahser won Class A district titles in 2012 and ’13.

Bloomfield Hills, 4-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, will host Clarkston (8-1, 5-0) on Tuesday at 7. Clarkston is ranked No. 4 in Class A.

Yante Maten (6-8) is a possible Mr. Basketball candidate and the one player you can’t miss when you watch Bloomfield Hills play. With college recruiters on hand, including one from Virginia Tech, Maten had 21 points and 22 rebounds in a 71-53 victory over Southfield on Jan. 17. Last Thursday fellow senior Armand Cartwright scored 27 as Bloomfield Hills routed a good North Farmington team, 73-51.

Tuesday’s game has been tabbed Hoops for Hope, with proceeds going to pediatric cancer care and awareness. A local disc jockey will announce the game, a local band will perform and there will be various raffles.

By the numbers

2: Number of unbeaten Class A teams (Muskegon, Taylor Truman)

88: Total margin of victory by Mount Clemens in its last two games

403: Career coaching victories for John Herrington of Farmington Hills Harrison


Legendary Brother Rice football coach Al Fracassa on the hiring of Dave Sofran as his replacement.

“I feel good. I’m 81-years-old. It was time for me to leave. With Dave there, maybe now I can stay a little while longer and be with the coaches when I can. But not now. I’m going to Florida with my wife for a while.”

Top performance

Romeo senior Drew Cushingberry: Cushingberry had four 3-pointers in the final four minutes and finished with 27 points as Romeo came from 18 points down to defeat Utica Eisenhower 55-47 on Wednesday.


Al Fracassa retired in November after leading Brother Rice to another ... (Brandy Baker / Detroit News)
Romeo's Drew Cushingberry scored 27 in a win over Utica Eisenhower. (Special to Detroit News)
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