DeWitt and Waverly have been the top two teams in the CAAC Red all season and among the area’s best in Class A.
Only one of them will have an opportunity to move past the opening round of the girls basketball state tournament.
The same is the case elsewhere where only one of the top three teams in the CMAC will have a chance to even play for a district championship. That’s because league champion Bath and Laingsburg meet to open the state tournament and the winner gets to face Class C No. 4-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia in a semifinal.
Bath, Laingsburg and P-W are among five teams with at least 15 wins in their district with host Carson City-Crystal and Byron on the other side of the bracket.
Such is life for now in the MHSAA basketball state tournament that gets started Monday for girls teams.
“It’s really tough,” said Pewamo-Westphalia junior Emily Spitzley, who was able to help her team make it out of a challenging district last season that featured the three teams that tied for the CMAC title. “It’s kind of unfortunate that we have three or four or however many of the best teams in Class C in one district. It’s a district game that could be a game at the final at the Breslin. It takes away some of the opportunities for each team.
“Getting out of that district is actually a big accomplishment like we did last year. That’s something we’re very proud of and we hope we can do it again. It just takes a lot of grit to get a win out of that district.”
Waverly coach John Schweitzer is hopeful change is on the horizon for the state tournament so opening-day matchups like the one his team has against DeWitt can be avoided in the future. But for now, Waverly will have to put its best foot forward and try to make it through a district that features four teams that won at least 14 games during the regular season.
“This is how it is,” Schweitzer said. “You’re going to play some of these big district games on a Monday night and that’s what we’re headed for.”
Here is a look at each of the districts involving Lansing area teams.
CLASS A AT PARMA WESTERN: CAAC Blue runner-up Okemos and Mason have the best records of teams in this field and could potentially meet for a district title. The Chiefs, who have been led by sophomore Laya Hartman and freshman Jasmine Clerkley. will have to get past host Parma Western and Jackson for a shot at a district title. Mason, which is led by Oakland University signee Autumn Kissman, and Holt are on the opposite side of the bracket and will meet in a semifinal. Mason knocked Holt out of the state tournament last season and won the earlier meeting between the schools.
CLASS A AT EAST LANSING: This loaded Class A district features kicks off with a matchup, between DeWitt and Waverly, which split their regular-season meetings. Two of the top three teams in the CAAC Blue – East Lansing and Grand Ledge – are on the opposite side of the bracket and play in a semifinal. Everett rounds out the field. CAAC Red champion DeWitt owns wins over every other team in the district field, including a one-point victory over CAAC Blue champ East Lansing early in the season. Waverly, which is led by Penn State signee Alisia Smith, is the only team that has beat DeWitt this season.
CLASS A AT FLUSHING: After reaching the Breslin Center last season, St. Johns hasn’t had the same success this winter while playing in the challenging CAAC Red. But the Redwings will try to make some noise again in the postseason in a district field that also includes Owosso, Flint Metro League champion Flushing and Saginaw Valley Association South champ Flint Carman-Ainsworth.
CLASS B AT JACKSON NORTHWEST: Coach Becky Sutton believes her Eaton Rapids squad has put things together at the right time with eight wins over its last 10 games. And she hopes that will help the Greyhounds to a district repeat in a field that also includes Olivet, Stockbridge, Leslie and Jackson Northwest. Olivet was the GLAC champion and has won 13 straight since a one-point loss to Stockbridge. The Eagles will face Stockbridge for a third time in their state tournament opener.
CLASS B AT IONIA: Lakewood was the GLAC runner-up and joins Ionia as the only teams to finish the regular season at least .500 in this district field. But Portland and Ionia own victories this season over Lakewood and strong contenders to win this district. Charlotte, which capped the regular season with a win over Stockbridge, and Hastings are the other teams in the field.
CLASS B AT FOWLERVILLE: CAAC White champion and No. 3-ranked Williamston has been a top team in the Lansing area all season and heads the field. But Fowlerville, Haslett and Lansing Catholic are among the teams that will try to take down the Hornets. Freshman Imania Baker has been a key component for a Haslett team that finished in the top half of the CAAC Red. And host Fowlerville played a recent tight game with Williamston and also knocked off state-ranked Bay City John Glenn earlier this month while winning six of seven to close the regular season. Sexton and Eastern are also in the field.
CLASS B AT ALMA: Kayla Belles and Ithaca made school history last March by reaching the Class C state semifinals at Breslin Center. Now the Yellowjackets will try to find success in Class B this season. Ithaca, which won the TVC West title, could see TVC Central runner-up and host Alma in a semifinal matchup. Ithaca posted a one-point win over Alma on Monday. Alma is looking to repeat as a district champion.
CLASS B AT LAKE FENTON: Corunna (11-9) and Ovid-Elsie (10-10) were the only teams to finish .500 or better in this district and are on opposite sides of the bracket. Perry, Lake Fenton and Durand are also in the field.
CLASS C AT CARSON CITY-CRYSTAL: This is a loaded district that features four teams that have been ranked or received votes in the Associated Press state poll. Bath and Laingsburg, who split their regular-season meetings, help kick off the tournament Monday with the winner advancing to face Pewamo-Westphalia. Host Carson City-Crystal, which has won 15 straight since a 2-2 start, and GAC Blue champion Byron are on the other end of the bracket.
CLASS C AT GALESBURG-AUGUSTA: Saranac finished fourth in the strong CMAC and will try to advance out of this district that also includes area teams Potterville and Maple Valley. Big 8 Conference champion Springport and Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley champion Galesburg-Augusta are also in the field and district title contenders.
CLASS D AT MORRICE: The host Orioles are in pursuit of another Class D district title. Morrice is coming off a strong finish to the regular season that included winning seven straight and earning a key win over Byron to earn a share of the GAC Blue title. Lansing Christian, which has been led by senior Grace Haley, will be a top challenger and beat Morrice in late January. Webberville is also in the field.
CLASS D AT FOWLER: Portland St. Patrick and Merrill are the only teams in this district that had winning records during the regular season and are on opposite sides of the bracket. St. Patrick spent some time in the Class D state poll and finished in the middle of the CMAC, while Merrill was third in the MSAC. Ashley, Fulton and host Fowler are also part of the field.
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.