Northview, Catholic Central and Tri-Unity Vying For State Titles
The state boys basketball quarterfinals are Tuesday night, with three Grand Rapids teams still alive.
Division1: Northview's Talented Wildcats Face First Big Test
Led by Mr. Basketball runner-up Kyler Vanderjagt, Northview's ninth ranked Wildcats are on the school's deepest run in the state tourney in 16 years. They will travel to Middleville tonight to challenge surprising Kalamazoo Central at 7:00pm.
Led by Coach David Chana, the Cats have rolled to a 24-1 record, winning the OK White regular season title. Northview's lone set back was to Grand Rapids Christian back on February 8, 65-53.
The Wildcats are led by seniors Vanderjagt, a 6-4 shooting guard who is headed to play college ball at Belmont University in Tennessee, and 6-5 guard Jalen Charity, both of whom made the All-Conference team. Also contributing are E.J. Ryans, a talented sophomore point guard and junior Tyran Thomas.
The Wildcats rolled to a pretty uncontested District title with three easy wins over Lowell, Forest Hills Northern and Rockford, and then took out Muskegon and West Ottawa to win Region 3.
Their opponent Tuesday, the Maroon Giants of Kalamazoo Central are 15-7, having finished in second place to Gull Lake in the Southwestern Michigan Conference's East Division.
They defeated host Coldwater to win District 14, and upset Okemos 70-62 in overtime to win Region 4.
Division 2: Catholic Central Seems Poised For A Repeat
CC Coach T. J. Meerman knows his team has the depth in the talent to win it all again, but he also knows the road to a state title is fraught with landmines, and he's hoping one doesn't explode Tuesday night.
The second ranked Cougars return to Van Noord Arena at Calvin University, where they won the District 43 crown back on March 12 over 3rd ranked Unity Christian in front over 4000 fans.
Catholic has a deep, balanced attack led by another Mr. Basketball runner up, Jack Karasinski who is headed in Virginia to play for William and Mary next fall. Catholic's junior playmaker Kaden 'KeKe' Brown has been on fire in the playoffs, and sophomore point guard Durral 'Fat Fat' Brooks has been a huge on-court leader.
But to get back to the Breslin Center, the Cougars will have to dodge the tradition rich sixth ranked Benton Harbor Tigers, who are 22-2, and led by Grant Gondresick, a transfer from Stevensville Lakeshore, who's late father and uncle both played in the NBA.
Look for a typical March Madness slugfest, with the edge going to Catholic because of their experience, fitness and their intelligence, as they were honored for the team's academic achievements this week.
Division 4:Tri-Unity Christian Is Back Where They Always Seem To Be
If one thing has been a constant in the 35 year career of Tri-Unity head coach Mark Keeler, it's been getting to the Division 4 title game.
Keeler has four state D4 championships, and made it to eight D4 championship games and 12 final fours. Last year, they lost to Detroit Douglass in the title game, 47-41.
I don't want to say the Defenders expect to be here every year, but they kind of do, and that's thanks to Keeler's emphasis on a defensive style that knocks opponents not used to that level of intensity off their game.
Keeler's Defenders (18-6) held high flying New Buffalo to less than half their season average en route to a 57-40 regional title triumph last Wednesday.
Tuesday, Tri-Unity will see a team very similar to themselves in Adrian Lenawee Christian, whose 13-12 record belies a tough schedule, and a team that, like Tri-Unity, has a tendency to hold opponents to under 50 points.
Tri-Unity is led by junior guard Brady Titus, who plays like a cannonball when driving the lane. Titus has added a now potent jump shot to his game, and leads to Defenders in scoring, and has 12 games of 30 points or more this season. He has committed to play at Indiana Tech in 2023-24.
Tuesday's game will be at Portage Northern High School and tips off at 7:00pm.
READ MORE: Things About Michigan That Shock People