Southfield A&T and Detroit King have developed a strong postseason rivalry during the past couple of years and Tuesday night’s Class A regional semifinal at A&T should be a must-see game for girls basketball fans.
Southfield A&T coach Michele Marshall said her team is now fully healthy and playing with confidence, meaning it could be tough for King coach William Winfield to earn his milestone 700th career victory.
“My team is playing well as we go into regionals,” said Marshall, who guided Southfield Lathrup to the Class A state title in 2005. “We have won 16 games in a row after struggling with injuries early in the season. All my players are healthy.”
Southfield A&T (16-5) is led by 5-10 junior forward Alexis Johnson (21 points, nine rebounds), 5-10 sophomore forward Cheyenne McEvans (15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists), senior guard D’Layna Holliman (eight points, five rebounds) and senior guard Shawna Manning (six points, seven rebounds).
Johnson had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) in last year’s 55-51 win over King in the regional final.
Winfield is looking to become just the third coach in state history to reach the 700-win club, attempting to join Frank Orlando (780) of Detroit Country Day and Al DeMott (716) of Sandusky. He guided King to state championships in 1985, 1990, 1991, 2003 and 2006, still looking to earn one this decade to give him at least one in four different decades.
King defeated Southfield in the 2016 regional final and advanced to the state championship game, losing a heartbreaker to Warren Cousino, 67-65, despite a 34-point effort from Micaela Kelly, who is now the point guard for Central Michigan.
Del’Janae Williams and Jordan Lewis played in that title game and will be on the court Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m., following the regional semifinal between PSL runnerup Detroit Renaissance (15-7) and Dearborn Fordson (21-2), which gets underway at 5:30.
Renaissance is led by 5-3 freshman guard Kailee Davis, who scored 32 in a 73-48 PSL semifinal rout of King last month.
There have been a number of major upsets in the opening week of the state tournament, including previously unbeaten East Kentwood, which reached the Class A state championship game last season and was predicted by The Detroit News to win the state title.
East Kentwood was upset by Caledonia in the district semifinals, 46-45. Ann Arbor Huron lost on the first night of the districts by an 11-9 Dexter team, 41-36. Huron was also expected to reach Calvin College to play in the Final Four later this month.
Pittsford, the two-time Class D state champs who moved up to Class C, defeated Clinton in their district opener before having their 76-game winning streak come to an end in the district semifinal, losing to Manchester, 46-45.
Pittsford came within two wins of matching the state record held by Carney-Nadeau (78, 1989-91). Pittsford’s win over Clinton placed it second all-time, just ahead of Flint Northern (75, 1978-81).
Tuesday: Regional semifinals
Thursday: Regional finals
March 13: Quarterfinals
March 15: Class C semifinals, noon and 2 p.m.; Class D semifinals, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
March 16: Class A semifinals, noon and 2 p.m.; Class B semifinals, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
March 17: Finals – Class D, 10 a.m.; Class A, 12:15 p.m.; Class C, 4 p.m.; Class B, 6:15 p.m.
All semifinals and finals at Van Noord Arena, Calvin College.