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DAVE GORICKI

Prep Insider: Deyonta Davis keeps Muskegon rolling

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Deyonta Davis has lived up to the hype to make him a front-runner for Mr. Basketball.

Davis, who stands tall at 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, has helped Muskegon (14-1) remain a dominant power and threat to repeat as Class A state champion.

Following the graduation loss of last year's Mr. Basketball Award winner, Deshaun Thrower (Stoney Brook), Davis upped his production from 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks to 19.2 points, 16.5 rebounds and 7.5 blocks while shooting 66 percent from the field.

And while Davis let his play do his talking on the court last year, he has become more vocal during his senior year in Thrower's absence. The last time players from the same school won Mr. Basketball in consecutive years was 2009-10, with Detroit Pershing teammates Derrick Nix and Keith Appling.

"I'm stepping up to the plate to lead my team," said Davis, who will play next year at Michigan State. "I think we have a good chance of repeating, that is as long as we continue to come out and go hard and keep working hard every day in practice like we have been."

On being more of a leader, Davis said, "I just took what he (Thrower) did and try to lead my team the same way."

Davis showed his leadership both by his play and words after Muskegon had its 31-game winning streak ended by East Kentwood in late December, 58-57. He came up with a 27-point, 20-rebound effort the next game, a 71-61 win over Chicago Curie.

Muskegon has won 11 straight since its lone loss, all coming by 10 or more points.

Muskegon coach Keith Guy said Davis put on 15 pounds and he's been more physical than in past years. Davis set the single-season state record for blocks (199) last year and is on pace to top that mark with another long postseason run.

"He's more confident and doesn't mind mixing it up," Guy said. "He's doing really well and he's become more of a leader where he's holding himself accountable and everybody else accountable, too.

"He plays with a lot of energy and he can shoot the jump shot now, really even step out and make the three, and he wasn't able to do that in the past."

When asked where he felt he's made the biggest improvement in his game, Davis replied: "I'd say scoring the ball myself, scoring off the dribble. I can post better now, too, where they can't push me like they used to do."

He already has a prestigious title to his name, McDonald's All-American, the first in school history. He's also the first player from West Michigan to earn the accolade since former MSU star Matt Steigenga of Grand Rapids South Christian in 1988.

Davis is at the top of the class for Mr. Basketball, but he will be challenged in voting by Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan members by Saginaw Arthur Hill guard Eric Davis, Lansing Everett power forward Trevor Manuel, Otsego 7-footer Seth Dugan and River Rouge point guard LaMonta Stone II.

Eric Davis, who will be headed to Texas, is averaging 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds for 14-3 Arthur Hill. He scored 36 in a 65-63 early-season loss to Muskegon in which Deyonta Davis had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks, one in the final seconds.

"He's taken his game to another level in terms of leadership and his rebounding and assists," Arthur Hill coach Greg McMath said of his star guard. "Last year, he was a scoring guard while this season he is more of a point guard, more of a facilitator this year, making other people around him better."

Manuel, a 6-9, 210-pound forward, will play at Oregon next year, his fourth different stop in as many years. He left Lansing Sexton after his sophomore year for Oak Hill Academy, then moved back to the Lansing area, joining Everett.

Manuel is averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for 12-2 Everett. He has come up with mammoth games, including a triple-double (42 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks) against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills and a 46-point, 17-rebound performance against Detroit East English Village Prep, both wins.

"He has great versatility where he can handle the ball and also defend multiple positions," said Everett coach Desmond Ferguson, who was a key contributor on Detroit's NCAA Tournament victories over St. John's (1998) and UCLA (1999). "He's a great shot blocker and defender."

Dugan entered Otsego High at 6-4 and is now 7-0 and 245 pounds and headed to nearby Western Michigan after shunning an offer from Purdue and interest from Oregon and Wisconsin.

After being called up to varsity his sophomore year, where he was a role player (eight points, eight rebounds, two blocks), Dugan started to show his potential his junior year (14 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks) to help Otsego to a 21-3 record.

This season, Dugan is averaging 17.6 points, 12.6 rebounds and three blocks while playing with a target on his back for 12-3 Otsego.

"I think his post play continues to grow, just his footwork and his agility to get up and down the floor," coach Josh Holmes said. "He gets up and down the floor so well for a 7-footer that he gets easy buckets that way."

"He has a lot of room to continue to grow and he knows that, but he continues to work and on defense he blocks a lot of shots for us and he's a big boy in there and brings a lot of presence."

Otsego defeated rival Plainwell, 69-44, this month to avenge an earlier loss and Dugan came up with a big performance: 27 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks.

When asked what his biggest improvement was, Dugan replied: "Just catching and finishing. I feel I'm also a better rebounder this year and a better passer, for sure."

Stone is making the most of his lone year at River Rouge (12-4) after playing his first three years at Bowling Green (Ohio) High while his father, LaMonta, was an assistant coach at Bowling Green State University.

Stone had offers from Detroit and Eastern Michigan and is also being recruited by UNLV, Southern Mississippi, Bowling Green.

LaMonta II is averaging 23 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals while showing his ability to take over a game at any stretch, scoring 36 in a double-overtime win over Romulus earlier this month, 27 in the second half and overtimes.

Stone followed that outing with a 31-point, 10-assist performance in a win over Detroit Consortium, showing he is playing at the top of his game heading into the stretch drive.

"He makes his teammates better through his actions, not words," River Rouge coach LaMonta Stone said.

His son has connected on 48 percent of his 3-point attempts and 86 percent of his free throws.

Mark down March 5 on your calendar. That's when Davis and Muskegon will be making a trip to River Rouge to see what Stone and his teammates have to offer.

PSL title game Friday

Unbeaten Detroit Western (17-0) will be facing Detroit Renaissance (11-6) for the Public School League championship at 7 p.m. at Calihan Hall.

Western will be looking for its first PSL title since 1922, or in 93 years. Renaissance's last PSL title came in 2004, when it finished 27-0 and won the Class B state championship.

Western came out on top, 58-41 in the lone meeting between the teams this season, but Renaissance coach Vito Jordan said both teams are different with transfers now on board.

"It's two completely different teams than when we first played," explained Jordan. "They have two new players, transfers and we have one in Darryl Smith and we haven't lost since Darryl became eligible."

Western's transfers are Detroit-bound Josh McFolley and 6-8 center Gerald Blackshear from Mount Clemens. McFolley scored 30 and Blackshear had 16 points and 15 rebounds Friday in a 70-60 semifinal win over Pershing.

Smith, a guard, is a transfer from Detroit Community. Renaissance has won seven straight since he became eligible, joining juniors 6-4 junior Justin Turner and junior point guard Richard Talley in the backcourt.

Jordan pointed out Turner had just returned from an ankle injury that sidelined him for two weeks in the Jan. 13th loss to Western and that 6-5 freshman forward Jalen Tobias didn't start in that game. Turner scored 17 in a 50-46 semifinal win over East English Friday, making an 8-footer with 56 seconds left to break a 46-46 tie.

Tobias, now a starter, scored nine of his 11 points during the fourth quarter to turn a 26-21 deficit into a 39-31 quarterfinal win over CMA last Wednesday.

And, Renaissance also will have Talley in the lineup. Talley missed the quarterfinal and semifinal games with an ankle injury suffered in the final minutes of a 50-47 opening-round win over King.

Plymouth girls eye history

Plymouth's girls basketball team will be trying to earn its first district title in school history when the state tournament gets underway in two weeks.

Plymouth's program is building momentum with its first KLAA South Division title, winning 13 straight games, including a perfect 10-0 mark in league play.

"It was the first KLAA South Division championship in school history so it's a huge accomplishment for our kids," said Plymouth second-year head coach Nick Brandon. "The last two years have been unbelievable with last year's 18-5 team setting this up and the girls going out and working hard over the summer to prepare for this to happen."

Plymouth (14-2) was looking to knock down the roadblock which was named Canton, the team across the parking lot which was always in its way of earning league and district championships.

Plymouth not only beat Canton once but twice this season and will be looking for a third win in the district tournament.

"Last year, we couldn't seem to clear the hurdle and beat Canton," Brandon said. (Canton lost to Birmingham Marian in the Class A state title game last year.) "We beat them for the first time in eight years this season, then beat them again in their gym, 33-31, when Kendall Rose made a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. Our school has never won a district title before and we want to get that done this year."

Kendall Rose is averaging 13 points, Courtney Lavallee, 9.

"We have four seniors starting and they really share the ball," Brandon said. "We have a hard-working group and we're fun to watch, using our trademark full-court pressure defense the entire game."

Mr. Basketball front-runners

Deyonta Davis, 6-10, C, Muskegon -- 19.2 points, 16.5 rebounds, 7.5 blocks, 66 percent FG, 70 percent FT

Eric Davis, 6-3, G, Saginaw Arthur Hil -- 26 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 48 percent FG, 83 percent FT, 45 percent 3s

Seth Dugan, 7-0, C, Otsego -- 17.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 64 percent FG, 54 percent FT

Trevor Manuel, 6-9, PF, Lansing Everett -- 25 points, 12 rebounds, 6 blocks, 50 percent FG

LaMonta Stone II, 5-7, PG, River Rouge -- 23 points, 7 assists, 4 steals, 4 rebounds, 53 percent FG, 86 percent FT, 48 percent 3s

Quotable

"He's more confident and doesn't mind mixing it up."

Keith Guy, Muskegon coach, on 6-10, 230-pound senior center Deyonta Davis, who put on 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason

Top performer

Kysre Gondrezick, Benton Harbor

It would be easy to say the junior guard is back to form after missing multiple games due to an Achilles strain at the base of her foot. She returned to action this past week and scored 43 in a 90-79 win over Kalamazoo Central.

By the numbers

21: School-record rebounds grabbed by for 6-7, 220-pound sophomore Xavier Tillman for Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central to go along with his 25 points in a 68-49 win over East Grand Rapids Friday

19: Point deficit Detroit East English came back from in the third quarter to earn a 72-65 overtime win over Detroit Henry Ford in a PSL quarterfinal game Wednesday

16: Points scored by Pershing senior guard Marquel Ingram during a 28-11 run in the second quarter of a comeback, 81-71 PSL quarterfinal win over Osborn. He scored 28, making 6 of 9 threes

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

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