Ten storylines to follow when the girls basketball state tournament begins this week:
Best bets to repeat?
One thing is certain: A new champion will be crowned in Class C, since Ypsilanti Arbor Prep jumped to Class B. Warren Cousino could repeat in Class A, but faces stiff competition in a wide-open field. Marshall is having another good year in Class B, but Arbor Prep and Birmingham Detroit Country Day are contenders. Pittsford has the best chance to defend a title. It entered the final week of the regular season unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class D.
Will this be the year for Al DeMott and Sandusky?
It’s been a terrific career in the thumb area for DeMott, who since taking over the Sandusky program in 1979 has won almost 700 games. The only thing missing is a state title. Sandusky lost in the 1999 Class C final to St. Ignace, and this year’s team could contend again. The Redskins are a deep, experienced squad that plays tenacious defense and gets balanced scoring. They were unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class C entering the regular season’s final week.
Can a team play spoiler in Class B?
Arbor Prep and Country Day should be favored entering the tournament, but there are dark-horse candidates. Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Williamston only had one loss going into last week, and both are veteran teams. Also in the mix is Freeland, which was 19-0, and one can’t discount Marshall, which won 16 of its first 18 games and has six players back from its state championship team.
Which Miss Basketball candidate will last longest?
It’s hard to bet against Warren Cousino senior Kierra Fletcher, who propelled Cousino to the Class A state title at Breslin Center last season. That 27-point, eight-rebound performance? The Georgia Tech signee will look to best it this year. Others in play for a run are Country Day’s Destiny Pitts (Minnesota signee) and Western Michigan signee Jordan Walker, Muskegon Mona Shores’ all-time leading scorer.
Most competitive district?
The Class A district at East Lansing has four teams that entered Friday with at least 13 wins, including state-ranked DeWitt (No. 5) and East Lansing (honorable mention). Lansing Waverly and Grand Ledge are the other teams.
Saginaw Heritage is ranked No. 3 in Class A and Midland Dow is No. 4. Barring an upset of Heritage on Monday by Mt. Pleasant, Heritage will host Dow in a regional semifinal showdown on Wednesday.
Will Detroit King and Cousino rematch in Class A final?
It certainly is possible for the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams. Neither should be tested in districts and both have favorable regionals.
How will St. Ignace fare in Class C?
The state power has fluctuated between Classes C and D over the years, but has won state titles in both. St. Ignace likely will have a regional final showdown against unbeaten Munising.
Coaching legends still going strong
Frank Orlando of Country Day and William Winfield of Detroit King have combined to win close to 1,500 games and make 27 state championship game appearances. They account for almost 70 years of combined coaching experience, and both have good chances of winning state titles this year. Orlando is chasing title No. 12. Winfield is after his sixth championship.
Which juniors will jump-start their Miss Basketball campaigns for 2018?
The best bets are Kaela Webb of Country Day (Marquette commitment), Lasha Petree of Arbor Prep, Jaida Hampton of East Lansing and Maddie Watters of Williamston.