Photo courtesy of Rick Laven
The MHSAA Boys Basketball season is entering its final week as there are just 32 total teams remaining in the tournament across the four classes. In Class A, Grand Rapids Christian and Kalamazoo Central, the two schools from the west side of the state, will face off Tuesday night in Lansing for a berth to Breslin Center for Friday’s semifinals.
Grand Rapids Christian is a perfect 25-0 on the season, and they have defeated some of the state’s best teams to reach this point of the postseason. They defeated Godwin Heights, Wayland (twice), West Ottawa (twice), Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Detroit Country Day, and in an overtime contest Kalamazoo Central.
The Eagles are led by Mr. Basketball finalist Xavier Tillman (Michigan State commit), senior forward James Beck (Oakland), and junior guard Duane Washington. This team has also benefitted from key contributions from other players such as Thad Shymanski, whose three pointer at the buzzer gave the Eagles the Regional Championship victory.
Their opponent, the Maroon Giants of Kalamazoo Central, has their fair share of star power as well. K Central’s featured player is senior Isaiah Livers (Michigan), who is also a Mr. Basketball finalist. He is joined by Rog Stein, who nearly missed a triple-double in the district finals, as he finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, eight steals and five assists. Jeremiah Vincent has been in double figures all postseason, and they also have gotten key contributions from Bass Ollie, who has shown the knack to do a little bit of everything.
Kalamazoo Central is 21-3 on the year, and they completed an undefeated season in the SMAC-East. They defeated Detroit Western International, Stevensville Lakeshore, Battle Creek Central (twice), and two of their losses came to Class A State Quarterfinalists (Romulus by ten and Grand Rapids Christian by two in OT). This bunch has given Christian the best run for their money out of any of the 25 contests the Eagles have played, and Tuesday should be thirty-two more minutes of the same thing.
If you can’t get to Lansing on Tuesday, tune in to Michigan Sports Radio as Dave VanNoord will lead the call for an epic rematch of two of the state’s best basketball programs. The game tips off at 7:00 PM.