Boys quarters picks: Kelser, WL Central face big test
Walter Kelser tagged along when his father Raymond used to take him to high school basketball games he was officiating nearly a decade ago.
Raymond Kelser, a highly-respected high school basketball official, will be taking a well deserved day off Tuesday night, proudly watching his son play in the biggest game of his life.
Walter Kelser will be leading Walled Lake Central (20-5) in its first Class A state quarterfinal in 22 years when it faces Mr. Basketball runner-up Eric Davis and Saginaw Arthur Hill (22-3) at Grand Blanc. The winner moves on to play in a semifinal game Friday afternoon at Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Championship games for all four classes are set for Saturday at Breslin.
Kelser, a 5-foot-10 junior point guard, is looking forward to playing against Davis, a Texas commit, and 6-foot-7 sophomore Brian Bowen, one of the top five sophomores in the country and cousin of former Michigan State and NBA player Jason Richardson.
Kelser wants to show them what he learned from Ray, who coached his AAU team, and from his uncle Greg Kelser's youth camps in past years.
Kelser has been an impact player all season, averaging 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. He has elevated his game to another level the past several weeks, starting with a 41-point outing, including making 25-of-27 free throws, in a loss to rival Walled Lake Western. He scored 14 in a 40-39 district championship win over Western, getting a steal and the winning free throw in the final seconds.
In last week's regional semifinal, Kelser scored 26 in a win over Howell, then followed it up with a 25-point night in the 73-71 regional title win over Holly.
"It the first time our team has played in the Elite Eight and we're all looking forward to it," said Kelser, who added about Davis, "Yes, I've seen him play a couple of times. We take pride in our defense and we're going to have to limit his chances. We have great chemistry. One of my roles is to get everybody involved. We have great scorers, but if I have to take over, I will."
Central's players aren't afraid to sacrifice their bodies, taking five charges in the second half of the district win over Western. Look for more of the same against Davis and Arthur Hill.
While Kelser's father is a well-respected referee, working in big PSL and state tournament games, his uncle is Greg Kelser, the former Michigan State standout and NBA player.
"They get to every game they can," Walter Kelser said. "They give me tips, telling me what I did well and what I need to work on. I know he'll (Ray) be there Tuesday night."
Pick: Arthur Hill
Clarkston (24-0) vs. Detroit Jesuit (21-3), 5:30 Tuesday, Calihan Hall: Unbeaten Clarkston is led by freshman point guard Foster Loyer, who will be going up against one of the top junior guards in the country in Cassius Winston of U-D Jesuit. Loyer has a better supporting cast. Pick: Clarkston.
Ypsilanti Community (19-4) vs. Detroit Western (23-0), 7 Tuesday, Calihan Hall: Ypsilanti's backcourt of Corey Allen and Jamezell Davis has been special in the run to the regional championship. Western has a dynamite backcourt of its own in Brailen Neely and Detroit-bound Josh McFolley and a standout center in Gerald Blackshear as well. Pick: Western
Lansing Everett (23-2) vs. Muskegon (23-1), 7 Tuesday, Lansing Eastern: There will be a special matchup in the middle in this one between Mr. Basketball award-winner Deyonta Davis of Muskegon and Mr. Basketball finalist Trevor Manuel of Everett. Look for Muskegon senior Joeviair Kennedy to be the difference. Pick: Muskegon.
Detroit Henry Ford (19-5) vs. New Haven (25-0), 7 Tuesday, Marysville: Henry Ford has played a tough schedule and is led by Mr. PSL in 6-5 senior guard Josh Davis (Western Michigan). Look for Davis and junior guard James Towns to end New Haven's special season. Pick: Henry Ford
Otsego (22-3) vs. Milan (23-2), 6:30 Tuesday, Marshall: Seven-footer Seth Dugan has played well to lead Otsego to its first regional championship since 1984, but Milan is the defending state champion and has its 1-2 punch back and playing well in point guard Latin Davis and 6-8, 240-pound center Nick Perkins. Pick: Milan
Wyoming Godwin Heights (23-1) vs. Spring Lake (18-7), 7 Tuesday, Rockford: Godwin Heights has a dominant player in 6-3 senior Delaney Blaylock who makes a difference every time he steps on the floor. Pick: Godwin Heights.
Cadillac (17-8) vs. Essexville Garber (21-4), 7 Tuesday, Mount Pleasant: Blake Oakes is a quality three-pointer shooter for an Essexville Garber team which has been on a roll since C.J. Glaza has returned from an injury, upsetting Goodrich for its first regional title. Pick: Essexville Garber.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (22-3) vs. Hanover-Horton (23-1), 7 Tuesday, Ann Arbor Huron: Bryce Windham had an outstanding senior year to help St. Mary win the state football championship. Now, Windham is averaging more than 20 points and eight rebounds to try and earn another state title. Look for St. Mary to slow down Hanover-Horton point guard Stefan Young to move on. Pick: St. Mary
Flint Beecher (23-1) vs. Millington (19-5), 7 Tuesday, Burton Bendle: Beecher looks well on its way to winning a third state title in the last four years with an outstanding backcourt in Cedric Moten, Malik Ellison and Sammy Toins, slowing down Millington's high-scoring combination of Austin LeVan and Shawn Pardee to move on to Breslin. Pick: Beecher.
McBain (22-2) vs. Boyne City (20-5), 7 Tuesday, Gaylord: Corey Redman will lead Boyne City to the Final Four at Breslin before moving on to play for Keno Davis at Central Michigan. Pick: Boyne City.
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (19-5) vs. Shelby (23-1), 7 Tuesday, Zeeland East: Jeff Beckman has used his size to develop into a double-double machine for Shelby and he will be the difference in this one. Pick: Shelby.
Waterford Lakes (24-0) vs. Burton Genesee Christian (17-6), 7 Tuesday, West Bloomfield: Senior guard Nick Robak is playing like the best player in Class D and his teammate Andrew Kline also is playing at a high level. Pick: Lakes
Frankfort (22-2) vs. Fulton (20-4), 7 Tuesday, Cadillac: David Loney of Frankfort and Gregg Jones of Fulton are outstanding three-point shooters. Look for Loney to have a big night. Pick: Frankfort
Powers North Central (24-0) vs. Hillman (23-1), 7 Tuesday, Sault Area High: Hillman guard Mason VanPamel has enjoyed an outstanding career, scoring more than 1,500 points, but North Central has a dynamic 1-2 punch in Rob Granquist and Jason Whitens. Pick: North Central
Morenci (22-2) vs. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (14-10), 7 Tuesday, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix: Look for Tri-unity Christian's magical run to continue after entering postseason with a .500 record. Pick: Tri-unity Christian.