Corey Allen wants what Cassius Winston has, memories of stepping on the Breslin Center floor to play in the boys basketball state finals.
And, Winston wants to get back to Breslin to take care of unfinished business, get to the title game and win the championship, something U-D Jesuit came up short of doing the past two years.
Something has to give when Allen and Ypsilanti Community (22-1) face top-ranked U-D (25-0) and Winston at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Calihan Hall in a Class A quarterfinal. The winner advances to Breslin for a state semifinal game Friday.
Allen and Winston are among the finalists for Mr. Basketball and AAU teammates, as well, playing their summer ball for The Family. This will be the first time they have played against each other during their high school careers.
“It’s going to be fun going up against him,” Allen said. “This will be my first time actually playing in a game against him. I like battling with him in the practices we had in AAU while playing for The Family. We know each other’s game well.”
No doubt, U-D has a better supporting cast surrounding Winston, including the inside presence of 6-foot-9 Greg Eboigbodin and Ike Eke.
It will be important for Allen and his teammates to have a good shooting night from the perimeter to pull U-D’s post players out so they will have a better chance to be successful attacking the basket.
“They have some 6-9 guys so we have to move the ball around, try to move them up on the perimeter so we can actually drive and get in the lane,” Allen said. “We have a few guys who can hit the three.”
Things didn’t go well for Allen and Ypsilanti in last year’s quarterfinal at Calihan, falling to eventual state champion Detroit Western and its 6-8 center Gerald Blackshear, 58-37. Allen and Blackshear will be teammates next year while playing for the Detroit Titans.
“It’s all about the kids and they’re playing well and ready to go,” Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks said.
Brooks is known for his strong defensive teams. Ypsilanti has allowed 43 or fewer points in every postseason game.
Negoshian is enjoying ride
The second game of the doubleheader at Calihan pits North Farmington’s guard trio of Jacob Joubert, Billy Thomas and Amauri Hardy against Sterling Heights Stevenson’s pressure defense.
“It’s pretty exciting, especially to have such a good group of kids like we have this year,” fifth-year North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian said. “My Dad (former longtime head coach Tom Negoshian) was never able to get here (quarterfinals) so to do this with him is a lot of fun.
“(Stevenson has) four really good guards who can handle and shoot the ball so we want to slow it down and get it into a half-court game. We have three guards who could all average 25 points, but they are playing so unselfish, making the extra pass for a better shot and it’s been fun to watch.”
Thomas is averaging 22 points and Hardy, 19. Alex Darden, a 6-6 senior, has 14 double-doubles this season for North Farmington (22-2).
Stevenson (20-4), guided by third-year coach Mark LaCombe, won its first regional title since 1983 with a 60-44 win over Roseville Wednesday with senior guard Luke Lamoreaux leading the way with 20 points. Mylon Weathers (19 points) and Vince Ramaci (10 points) also had solid games.
Henry Ford looking for repeat trip
Detroit Henry Ford coach Ken Flowers is thrilled to have James Towns as his point guard, knowing Towns knows what it takes to get to the Breslin Center.
Towns is having an all-state-caliber season, averaging 24 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 steals.
Henry Ford will have to be at its best to get past a New Haven (22-2) team loaded with size and talent, led by the 1-2 scoring punch of 6-6 freshman phenom Romeo Weems and Eric Williams Jr., along with 6-11 Innocent Nwoko and 6-9 Jerry Ben inside.
Williams scored 26 in a 53-50 regional-final win over Lake Fenton.
The Henry Ford-New Haven quarterfinal will be played at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore at 7 p.m. It is a quarterfinal rematch of last year’s game won by Henry Ford (61-55), which then went on to defeat Cadillac, 64-38, in a semifinal at Breslin before falling to Wyoming Godwin Heights in the Class B title game, 85-68.
Godwin Heights has been eliminated.
“They do have size and a good freshman in Romeo Weems, but I believe they haven’t seen pressure and speed like we bring to the table,” Flowers said. “With our experience and guard play, I think we have the formula to beat this good team again, just like last season. This should be another great dogfight.”
River Rouge is back
River Rouge (22-3) will have a big challenge on its hands, playing a Williamston (21-3) team which knocked off defending Class B state champion Wyoming Godwin Heights, 57-55 in overtime, behind a brilliant 37-point performance from 6-0 senior guard Riley Lewis last week in a regional semifinal.
LaMonta Stone would have it no other way. Stone returned to River Rouge last year after being an assistant coach with Eastern Michigan, Ohio State and Bowling Green.
Stone guided River Rouge to consecutive Class B state titles in 1998 and ’99 before starting a 14-year coaching career at the college level.
“This is why I came back,” Stone said. “Coaching is the only way I know how to help develop kids into young men. Life hasn’t been kind to some of them and this is a way to give them positive things, great experiences, something to look forward to.
“This run brings me great joy. A lot of these kids have been starters for the first time this year, some were on JV last year. We have just two seniors.”
River Rouge, which will play Williamston at Charlotte at 7 p.m., is led by junior point guard Darian Owens-White, who scored 25 in a 49-44 regional-final win over Onsted when his teammates played a strong defensive game against Michigan-bound center Austin Davis, limiting him to 17 points.
Loyola eyes first trip
This has been a thrill of a ride for 12th-year Detroit Loyola coach Rocky Buscemi, whose team knocked off power Detroit Allen Academy early on during its journey to winning the school’s first regional championship, 54-39, over Riverview Gabriel Richard.
Loyola (20-5) will face Hanover-Horton in a Class C quarterfinal Tuesday at Tecumseh for the right to move on to Thursday’s semifinal in East Lansing.
Buscemi set up a bonding trip to The Palace for Loyola’s players Saturday night, watching the Pistons have a fourth-quarter comeback, led by their bench players, in a win over Brooklyn.
“We had a shootaround, then took the kids to watch the Pistons play and they fought back and won while playing for their playoff life and their bench players led the way,” Buscemi said. “The kids had a blast and it gave me a chance to send a message that you never know when your moment is going to come; when I call your number, you have to come in and deliver for us.”
Buscemi said Loyola has earned its first regional title because “it’s a special group and they play well together, don’t get intimidated. On paper, all the teams we’ve played looked better, but the kids play for each other, believe in each other. They’ve (Hanover-Horton) been where we want to go. They have a big point guard, 6-4 and they have a 6-5 kid who can hit the three and score inside.”
Loyola is led by the guard trio of seniors DeQuan Powell (14 points), Romari Ennis (13 points) and sophomore Pierre Mitchell (11 points, six assists), who already has committed to Central Michigan.
Hanover-Horton forward Preston Laketa had a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in a state semifinal loss to eventual state champion Flint Beecher last year.
By the numbers
69: Percent shooting in the state finals by Warren Cousino guard Kierra Fletcher, who scored 64 in the semifinal and final wins on 23-of-33 shooting to lead her team to its first state championship.
34: Points scored by Detroit King senior guard Micaela Kelly in a losing cause against Cousino in the title game. She will play at DePaul.
31: 3-pointers taken in the Class A title game by King, which made just five after connecting on 9-of-18 long-range shots in a semifinal win over St. Johns the previous day.
Goricki’s finals MVPs
Kierra Fletcher, Jr., Warren Cousino
The guard led Warren Cousino to its first state championship, scoring 37 in a 60-45 semifinal win over Hudsonville Friday, then contributing 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 67-65 championship-game win over Detroit King.
Nicole Tucker, Jr., Marshall
The forward made sure Marshall reached the championship game by contributing 14 points and seven rebounds in a 43-42 win over favored Bay City John Glenn, making two free throws for the difference with 1.4 seconds left. Tucker had eight points and five rebounds in the 51-42 win over Grand Rapids South Christian for the school’s first state title.
Nastassja Chambers, Sr., Ypsilanti Arbor Prep
The guard was the catalyst on both ends of the floor for Arbor Prep, helping it to its first state title with a 53-37 win over Traverse City St. Francis. Chambers scored 14, including six in the opening quarter when Arbor Prep set the tempo by scoring the game’s first nine points. She scored 24, making 10-of-15 shots, in a 72-44 semifinal win over Ithaca.
Maddie Clark, Jr., Pittsford
The forward-center led Pittsford to its first state championship, putting together a 24-point, 16-rebound effort in a 62-43 semifinal rout of Waterford Lakes, followed by another double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) in the final win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. Clark shot 76 percent from the field (19-of-25) during the two games.
“I like playing defense more than offense. I think getting steals and breakaway layups are fun.”
— Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino junior guard