Matt Havey and the Lansing Christian boys basketball team have been waiting a long time for games that will really mean something.
That wait is over for the Pilgrims
Class D No. 8-ranked Lansing Christian will hit the big stage Thursday night when it takes the Breslin Center court for a state semifinal matchup against unbeaten and No. 4 Buckley.
“This is a definite dream,” Pilgrim senior Preston Granger said. “To play in the Breslin Center is pretty special. We’re definitely really excited.”
Granger, Havey and Forrest Bouyer have been dreaming about this opportunity since their elementary days. And they hope to cap their Breslin experience by capturing Lansing Christian’s first boys basketball state title.
“We have a goal and we want to be able to reach that goal,” said first-year Lansing Christian coach Chris Mustaine, who has guided the Pilgrims to their first state semifinal appearance since 2013. “We’ve been saying since November we want to be playing our best basketball in March. Hopefully, we will over the next three or four days.”
The Pilgrims are trying to be the first team from the Lansing area since Sexton in 2012 to win a state title.
Here are other things to watch at the boys state finals over the next three days at Breslin.
STREAKING JETS: If Lansing Christian has an opportunity to play for a state title Saturday, the team it could face is two-time defending champion Powers North Central. The top-ranked Jets have a nation-best 81 game-winning streak entering their semifinal matchup with No. 2-ranked Southfield Christian. Senior Jason Whitens, who finished third in the Mr. Basketball voting, has led the charge for Powers North Central during the MHSAA record win streak.
Whitens, who recently surpassed 2,000 career points, has helped the Jets to a 106-1 record during his four-year varsity career with the lone loss coming in the state quarterfinals to Cedarville his freshman year. He is undecided about his future college but has been offered an opportunity to join the Michigan State program as a preferred walk-on.
FUTURE SPARTANS CHASING TITLES: The Class A state championship trophy could be hoisted by a player that will call the Breslin Center their future home. Junior guard Foster Loyer and Clarkston and Mr. Basketball runner-up Xavier Tillman and Grand Rapids Christian remain in the hunt for a state championship and their teams could meet in the Class A state final at noon Saturday.
Loyer, who verbally committed to the Spartans in November, is trying to help No. 3 Clarkston capture its first state title in program history. Tillman, who is signed with MSU, has top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian in contention to win its first state title since 1938. He helped Grand Rapids Christian continue its title quest with a strong showing in a quarterfinal victory over Mr. Basketball Isaiah Livers and Kalamazoo Central.
YOUNG STAR POWER: New Haven and Benton Harbor have been featured in the top 10 of the Class B state rankings all season in part because of young stars leading the way. Unbeaten New Haven has a nationally ranked player in sophomore Romeo Weems, who already has received an offer from Michigan State. Carlos Johnson is one of the state’s top freshmen and has keyed the latest state semifinal trip for Benton Harbor.
DOUBLE THREE-PEATS?: Whitens and Powers North Central are one of two teams trying to capture a third straight state title at Breslin this weekend. Flint Beecher, which is led by Class C Associated Press player of the year Malik Ellison, is also trying to win a third consecutive state championship. Under the direction of coach Mike Williams, Beecher has won four of the last five Class C state titles.
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
BOYS BASKETBALL FINALS
All games at Michigan State’s Breslin Center
Class C semifinal: Detroit Edison PSA vs Flint Beecher, 1 p.m.
Class C semifinal: Grand Rapids Covenant Christian vs Manton, 2:50 p.m.
Class D semifinal: Powers North Central vs Southfield Christian, 6 p.m.
Class D semifinal: Lansing Christian vs Buckley, 7:50 p.m.
Class A semifinal: West Bloomfield vs Clarkston, 1 p.m.
Class A semifinal: Grand Rapids Christian vs Romulus, 2:50 p.m,
Class B semifinal: New Haven vs Benton Harbor, 6 p.m.
Class B semifinal: River Rouge vs Ludington, 7:50 pm
Class D final: 10 a.m.
Class A final: Noon
Class C final: 4:30 p.m.
Class B final: 6:30 p.m.