Semifinal picks: Yoopers arrive at Breslin on historic streak
Southfield Christian will be making its first trip back to Breslin Center since winning three consecutive Class D state championships from 2012-14.
And now Southfield Christian (21-5) will have to defeat two-time defending champion Powers North Central (26-0) to advance to Saturday’s title game.
Southfield Christian definitely has talent, showcasing the Washington brothers, Brock and Bryce, but it will have to get the job done at 6 tonight against Mr. Basketball finalist Jason Whitens and his teammates who have won a state record 81 straight games.
“We’re obviously thrilled for the opportunity to go back there and so happy for the kids,” said Southfield Christian Josh Baker, whose team moved up to Class C the previous two years, losing both years to Flint Beecher in a regional final. “We have to stop their top scorers, I mean they have won 81 in a row so they’re a pretty tough team and they know how to win.”
Baker feels Southfield Christian’s schedule will prepare them.
“I think it’s huge, we’ve played Romulus and Clarkston in preseason games and we played West Bloomfield so that’s three of the Class A Final Four so I think that’s why we played that kind of schedule, to prepare us,” said Baker whose team has also played and lost games to River Rouge and U-D Jesuit.
“Bryce and Brock have both earned first-team all-state and Trenton Temple was absolutely unbelievable in the quarterfinal and Harlond Beverly has been great as well, averaging almost 20 points and 10 assists since he’s been back (from ankle injury). Caleb Hunter (son of former Pistons guard Lindsey) has been shooting the ball really well, so all five of our starters have been playing well.”
Pick: Southfield Christian by 2.
Lansing Christian (19-6) vs. Buckley (25-0), 7:50 Thursday. Look for a great matchup between Denver Cade of Buckley and Matt Havey of Christian. Pick: Buckley by 4.
Detroit Edison (15-11) vs. Flint Beecher (21-5), 1 Thursday. Edison guard Pierre Mitchell is all too familiar with Flint Beecher and its standout guard, watching Malik Ellison hit a game-winning shot while a member of Detroit Loyola in last year’s semifinal at the Breslin.
Now, Mitchell, 6-5 Gary Solomon and 6-8 Deante Johnson will try to dethrone the two-time defending state champions. Pick: Edison by 2.
Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (20-5) vs. Manton (21-4), 2:50 Thursday. Expect a big game from Jayden Perry of Manton. Pick: Manton by 5.
Clarkston (25-1) vs. West Bloomfield (17-8), 1 Friday. Dan Fife will guide Clarkston to its first Final Four since 2009, trying to get the Wolves into the state championship for the first time in his 36-year coaching career.
Clarkston has an outstanding backcourt, led by MSU commit Foster Loyer, and has already defeated OAA Red rival West Bloomfield twice this season. Pick: Clarkston by 8.
Grand Rapids Christian (26-0) vs. Romulus (21-4), 2:50 Friday. Christian crushed Mr. Basketball Isaiah Livers and Kalamazoo Central by 20 in a quarterfinal. Romulus defeated defending state champion U-D Jesuit on a last second three-pointer, 66-63.
Romulus has multiple options, including Jaren English, Dylan Price, Kaevon Merriweather and Darius Lundy who made the winning three-pointer and scored 18, but look for Tillman to have a huge game at the site of his future home. Pick: Christian by 5.
New Haven (25-1) vs. Benton Harbor (22-3), 6 Friday. Romeo Weems & Co. survived a quarterfinal scare against Detroit Osborn to earn a bout with Benton Harbor. Pick: New Haven by 4.
River Rouge (24-1) vs. Ludington (24-2), 7:50 Friday. After getting knocked out by Williamston in last year’s quarters, Darian Owens-White scored 24 for River Rouge in a 54-51 win in the rematch. Pick: River Rouge by 6.
All games at Breslin Center, East Lansing
Class A, Friday
■Clarkston (25-1) vs. West Bloomfield (17-8), 1
■Romulus (21-4) vs. G.R. Christian (26-0), 2:50
Final: Noon Saturday
Class B, Friday
■New Haven (25-1) vs. Benton Harbor (22-3), 6
■River Rouge (24-1) vs. Ludington (24-2), 7:50
Final: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Class C, Thursday
■Detroit Edison (15-11) vs. Flint Beecher (21-5), 1
■G.R. Covenant Christian (20-5) vs. Manton (21-4), 2:50
Final: 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Class D, Thursday
■Powers North Central (26-0) vs. Southfield Christian (21-5), 6
■Lansing Christian (19-6) vs. Buckley (25-0), 7:50
Final: 10 a.m. Saturday