Holiday Hoops 2013
|Lansing Christian 50 vs. Paw Paw 77|
|Lansing Catholic 50 vs. Schoolcraft 43|
|Holt 79 vs. Hudsonville 70 2OT|
|GR Christian 64 vs. Warren De La Salle 72|
|East Lansing 56 vs. Ann Arbor Huron 74|
|Detroit Consortium 66 vs. Jenison 34|
Program (PDF 7.8MB)
Most Outstanding Player
Darohn Scott - Grand Rapids Christian
All Tournament Team
Jordan Terry - Lansing Christian
Tanner Eubank - Paw Paw
Tony Poljan - Lansing Catholic
Trevor Stoddard - Schoolcraft
Don'Quall Jackson - Holt
Mason Opple - Hudsonville
Darohn Scott - Grand Rapids Christian
Kevin McKay - Warren De La Salle
Akil Mitchell - East Lansing
Jalen Thompson - Ann Arbor Huron
Joshua Jackson - Detroit Consortium
Jacob Arntson - Jenison
ANN ARBOR HURON
As is the case with East Lansing coach Steve Finamore, when you ask Ann Arbor Huron coach Waleed Samaha about his team and style of play, the word “pace” is usually mentioned quickly.
It should make for a fun matchup between Huron and the Trojans and Samaha’s club will gain more experience in a big atmosphere on top of what they already have.
The roster consists of all juniors and seniors besides freshman Jack Smith.
Junior Xavier Cochran started as a sophomore and averaged 13 points and six rebounds for the River Rats.
Cochran, who Samaha feels is the team’s best all-around player, stands at 6-foot-5 and will be almost three inches taller than the tallest player on East Lansing’s roster. That’s interesting to note because Cochran is only a swingman and he usually plays the two or three spot on the floor for Huron.
There are four other players on the roster who are 6-foot-4 or taller.
One is senior Thomas Logue, a lefty like Cochran who is 6-foot-5. Logue is also a versatile player who can play the wing or play inside against smaller foes.
But an advantage in size isn’t necessarily what Huron is going for. They’re a pressing team that forces teams to work the ball up the floor and disrupts teams from getting into their offensive sets.
“With us, everything starts with defense. If we’re playing well defensively I like our chances against any team and that’s something that we emphasize every day and every year,” Samaha said. “It’s no secret. We’re going to press. We’re going to try and pick up the pace of play in the game and try to force teams into a full-court game. I think it leads to scoring opportunities for us, easy buckets on the offensive end and I think if we’re able to wear teams down by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, then we’re able to execute offensively to finish games.”
Huron has a senior point guard in Antonio Henry who is a good floor general.
“He really plays well in our system because he can really push the tempo. He’s a great decision-maker. He passes the ball really well. I’d like to see him score more and he can score more, but he really is good at getting his teammates involved offensively,” Samaha said of Henry.
Consortium’s Josh Jackson is only a sophomore, but he’s shaping up to be one of the best players in the country for his class.
Analysts tend to agree. Recruiting website Rivals.com has Jackson ranked as the top overall recruit for the 2016 graduating class. The Detroit Free Press listed Jackson as being the best player in the state of Michigan right now, regardless of graduating class.
When Jackson first burst on the scene, he had the look of a shooting guard who could also be a wing, but he has since grown to 6-foot-8 and may still be growing.
Jackson already has offers from programs such as Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State and is getting interest from many more. His talents will be on full display in the nightcap of today’s Holiday Hoops Invitational.
“He’s very humble, very coachable and he’s just a pleasure to be around. Coaching him is a lot easier than people would think. He makes things easy,” first-year Consortium coach Tobias Tuomi said. “As a basketball player, it’s really crazy to see some of the things that he can do on a day-to-day basis as a sophomore in high school. He gets better every day. He’s very versatile, dynamic. He’s a great basketball player, but he’s got a long way to go. He’s going to get a lot better over the next three years.”
Outside of Jackson, there is a lot of talent and experience on this roster.
Five of the 11 players are seniors. Four are guards that will help Consortium push the ball in transition and be a very quick defensive team. Three were major contributors in past years.
“Having that is really nice. In addition to a kid like Josh, you get to rely on those guys and they’ve been around and they understand how to do things and they understand the level that we need to play at,” Tuomi said.
Getting back to the Holiday Hoops Invitational was a goal for former Consortium coach Al Anderson. Anderson passed away after collapsing following a game in February when Consortium was the No. 2 team in Class C.
Consortium would wind up losing in a Class C tate quarterfinal to eventual state champion Flint Beecher.
The Cougars have not played in the Holiday Hoops Invitational since 2010, when they defeated Lansing Catholic by three points.
Once again, those in attendance at the Holiday Hoops Invitational will get the chance to see the frantic pace of the East Lansing Trojans.
No one on this roster is taller than 6-foot-3, but as usual under fourth-year coach Steve Finamore, the Trojans will be one of the quicker teams in the showcase and be a very solid defensive team that enjoys putting pressure on foes.
Seniors Akil Mitchell and Da’Vontay Haines will provide leadership as well as scoring and help pad the loss of Da’Vontay’s older brother Javon, who was a three-sport star at East Lansing last year before going on to play football at Ferris State University.
“I don’t know if we can,” Finamore said when asked how he would fill the void left by the departure. “Javon rebounded for us and people forget that and Javon was a quiet leader. He came to practice every day and gave all he had and he was a great example I think to the younger guys.”
With that rebounding gone and because East Lansing is so small, Finamore says he plans for his team to play as fast as they have in his four years as coach. It will be an interesting matchup with an Ann Arbor Huron team that can run as well.
“It’s almost like a track meet,” Finamore said. “We’re going to run as much as possible this year. We have no other choice but to run, and I think when two teams run it’s great for the fans.”
Mitchell has been in this system for three years and is a lethal three-point shooter in a scheme that feasts on open looks in transition.
Mitchell drained six triples and had 23 points in the Trojans’ season-opener on Dec. 10 and Finamore feels that the senior is one of the best pure shooters in mid-Michigan.
The blend between youth and experience will also be something to watch with this team. East Lansing has five underclassmen that are either freshmen or sophomores.
One freshman, Westin Myles, got the start for the Trojans in their opener and another, Xzavier Odom scored in double digits.
“They’re going to get major minutes,” Finamore said of the younger players. “I think the biggest challenge is bringing them together with the older guys, the seniors that have been with me for two and three years.”
GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN
One game away from playing at the Breslin Center in the Class A state semifinals last season, Grand Rapids Christian was defeated by Muskegon.
They will get their chance to play on the Breslin Center floor this year and will be one of the better teams in the state of Michigan despite what they lost off of last year’s team.
Senior Drake Harris decided that the 2012-13 year would be his last playing varsity basketball for the Eagles. Harris is a University of Michigan football commit and one of the top wide receivers in the country nationally among high school seniors.
Harris showed another participant in this year’s Holiday Hoops Invitational just how good he was on the hardwood as well, with a 37-point showing in a win over Holt in last year’s Class A regional finals.
Of the 37 points, 18 came in the fourth quarter.
“We treated him as a senior,” Christian coach Steve Majerle said. “He was a big scorer and hopefully not just one guy will step up but the whole team will step up. It gives other kids the opportunity to play so we’re excited to see what they can do.”
As athletic as Harris was, the Eagles will still be loaded with ability.
DaRohn Scott is a 6-foot-8 presence in the paint and will be one of the featured players in today’s matchup with Warren De La Salle because of his post scoring and rebounding.
“Great athlete, lots of potential. A Division I athlete,” Majerle said of Scott.
Junior Deleon Brown is a talented shooter who is being recruited by several Mid-American Conference schools. He was a big part of Grand Rapids Christian’s run to the state quarterfinals last year as a sophomore.
Along with Scott, guard Dwayne Barfield is one of five seniors on the roster. Barfield may not show up very much in the scoring column for the Eagles, but Majerle said that he is one of the fastest kids he’s ever coached and will be an outstanding defensive specialist.
Barfield is 6-foot-2, so his size at the guard position will also provide a stern test when he defends smaller guards who are shooters.
Holt returns a bit and loses a bit entering the 2013-2014 season as they make another appearance in the Holiday Hoops Invitational while also trying to reach the Breslin Center for the state semifinals later in the season.
The Rams came up two wins short of that goal last season, falling to Grand Rapids Christian and talented guard Drake Harris in a regional final.
Holt returns three starters, most notably senior guard Don’Quall Jackson.
Jackson is a tremendously fast guard and can shoot well from outside. Holt coach Matt Essell also feels Jackson has taken the role of floor leader and run with it coming into this season.
“He’s becoming a really vocal leader and leading guys and that’s been the biggest thing he’s added,” Essell said. “He’s playing with so much confidence and he seems to have a much better sense of the game overall and that’s going to be big for us.”
Jackson has started for the program for most of his four years at Holt. So has senior big man Colin Jones.
Don’t let the size of Jones fool you. He will pull up and shoot from anywhere on the floor and can be a lethal scorer when he gets into a rhythm.
Jones drained four three-pointers in a 57-35 win over St. Johns in last year’s Holiday Hoops Invitational and had 21 points with two triples in Holt’s season-opening win over Waverly on Dec. 10.
Tyrell Williams also is another big body returning for the Rams and while he isn’t the outside shooter that Jones is, he can slash to the basket in transition and plays with tenacious effort. All three returners averaged double figures in points last season.
It will be the role players that determine whether or not this team can defend their Capital Area Activities Conference Blue championship this year.
Holt did lose some players off of last year’s team. Donte Jackson made for a tremendous tandem in the backcourt with Don’Quall. Cullen Smith was one of the team’s best defenders. Tanner Beachnau was a ball handler who is now a walk-on at Central Michigan University. Trevor Stone was a contributor off the bench and another solid defender.
“Those are four good seniors, along with TJ King as well, but we have a lot of guys that were in the thick of things last year and we really have a lot of guys who were in the rotation last year who have experience,” Essell said.
Hudsonville has shared a budding, early-season football rivalry with Holt since the beginning of the 2011 season.
Now the two schools are taking it to the hardwood.
“Last year was our first year playing them and they came to our place and we had a real good game with them. We were fortunate enough to pull it out and win, but we know they’ve got a very, very good team with a lot of guys coming back,” Hudsonville coach Eric Elliott said of Holt.
Hudsonville isn’t a team with a tremendous amount of experience, but two players in the starting lineup were there as sophomores.
Junior small forward Brent Hibbitts is a long wing listed at 6-foot-8 that will provide matchup problems not only for Holt in the Holiday Hoops Invitational, but for opponents all season on the west side of the state.
Elliott feels that Hibbitts will be one of the Eagles’ leading scorers and will become a more complete player this year with improved defense and rebounding.
Hudsonville also has a glue guy on the inside standing only 6-foot-3, but plays the power forward position. Mason Opple was the starting quarterback for the Eagles’ football team and the starting first baseman for the baseball team in the spring.
“He’s just a scrappy, banging-type kid, plays incredibly hard,” Elliott said.
Senior guard Logan Magsig is who will be running the show for this Eagle team. Despite seven seniors appearing on the roster, the majority are inexperienced at the varsity level.
But having a seasoned point guard will help in big situations and big games, like today’s clash with the Rams.
“The coach on the court. He’s obviously familiar with everything we do. He’s done it for a long, long time and sometimes the guys get a little tired of the coaches harping on them and he’s a leader and he can be that bridge between us and the guys and offer some leadership that way,” Elliott said of Magsig.
This team will put a lot of players on the floor and the Eagles will be able to get experience by using a larger rotation compared to other teams. Elliott also feels this will be one of his faster teams that he’s at Hudsonville, which could lead to a transition game against a Holt team that also can push the ball up and down the court.
A familiar name will be coaching the Jenison High School boys basketball team when they take on Consortium and talented sophomore Josh Jackson tonight at the Breslin Center.
David Kool was the 2006 winner of the Mr. Basketball Award in Michigan. After a career at Western Michigan University, Kool earned a degree and worked on the bench under WMU coach Steve Hawkins, Kool is now in his first year of full-time duty on the bench for Jenison.
“When I got to Western and started playing, I think I always knew I wanted to be a coach but I just didn’t know on what level,” the former Grand Rapids South Christian star said. “When this opportunity came about and (athletic director) Todd Kolster called me last May, it was kind of like ‘woah’. It was unexpected. To get back into my hometown area in Grand Rapids where I grew up and to have a team that’s a pretty good team and to have some pieces to work with, it was something that just kind of fell into my lap and an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.”
It’s a veteran team this year for the Wildcats with 12 seniors listed on the roster.
The main challenge won’t be getting the team experience at the varsity level, but getting them experience with a new coach and a new way of doing things.
“I think one of the biggest strengths is going to be the senior leadership that we have. Nine of our top 10 guys right now are seniors, which is really, really good for this year. They’ve been through the wars. They’ve been through the battles,” Kool said. “But they also are dealing with a new coach too in myself with different philosophies than the last guy.”
Evan Schultz is one of the many seniors on the team. Though Kool said the Wildcats will have a point guard by committee situation, Schultz will likely be the main point guard.
“He’s going to have a lot on his shoulders. He didn’t play much last year so he’s kind of coming into a new role,” Kool said. “I think the way he goes will determine how we go a lot.”
Two more seniors that do have substantial varsity experience are Carter VanTimmeren and Lucas Diekevers. The pair has a combined seven years of varsity basketball under their belts.
Both are taller wings that will do a lot for the Wildcats when it comes to scoring, shooting and defending.
Lansing Catholic has been a local staple at the Holiday Hoops Invitational over the years and boys basketball coach Darren Zwick has been a staple with the Cougar program in his 15th season as varsity coach.
He feels this is one of the more experienced teams he’s had with nine returning players and three returning starters.
Of those three returners, two will stick out right away. The Poljan brothers are huge, with senior David standing 6-foot-8 and sophomore Tony checking in at 6-foot-7.
“It’s probably one of my bigger teams that I’ve had. We have seven kids that are over 6-foot-3 this year,” Zwick said. “It will change things a little bit. That’s the thing about high school is you’ve got to adapt to the kids that come through the door and we’ve been a perimeter-oriented team for a lot of years just because we’ve always had a lot of guards. Now we have bigger kids, so we’ll change a little bit. We’ll certainly want to get the basketball inside more and take advantage of the height that we have.”
Tony played quarterback for the football team in the fall and was one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the state among Class B schools.
The pair is physical and gifted.
“Tony can play all five positions. As a sophomore, he’s a pretty special kid. He’s 6-7. He can handle the basketball. I could have him run the point if I wanted to. He can play the wing or he can go post,” Zwick said. “David is more of a post guy or he can step out and shoot the three as well, but he’s more of a traditional big man.”
Matthew Fata is a junior point guard also returning for the Cougars.
Lansing Catholic had a freshman and three sophomores on the varsity roster last year and it was a tremendously young team. This year’s squad should be more equipped to handle bigger situations and bigger atmospheres like Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
“I think with us being a local team and our kids growing up around this area, any time you get to play where Michigan State plays in this facility, it makes them really excited. It’s a true joy not only for the kids in our program but for our school community as well,” Zwick said.
Lansing Christian went 22-4 last season and lost to eventual state champion Southfield Christian in the Class D state semifinals at the Breslin Center in March.
But there will be some new faces on this season’s version. That includes the coach, too. Zach VanDuinen is in his first season coaching the Pilgrims while also serving as the school’s athletic director.
Four graduated seniors that had been the heart and soul of the Lansing Christian run last season are gone, but Class D all-state senior guard Jordan Terry does return to give this squad some experience on the outside.
The departed players accounted for about 80 percent of the team’s scoring and a new system will also be put into place with the coaching change.
There are only three seniors on the roster and while Paw Paw, their opponent in today’s Holiday Hoops Invitational, is an experienced bunch, Lansing Christian will still be feeling one another out with a group of underclassmen that includes four freshmen.
“We are pretty much a brand new team,” VanDuinen said. “Some of these guys haven’t even played at the Breslin and they experienced (last year’s) disappointment from the stands as a student at Lansing Christian, so a lot of our guys are young and this will be new for them.”
The graduated players came back to Lansing Christian over the summer to help out with the younger group. The Pilgrims have frequently made strong runs in the Class D state tournament and even with the inexperience, this could be a formidable team again on the state scene in March.
“They have those expectations that Lansing Christian is going to make a run in the tournament, that those expectations will always be there for us,” VanDuinen said. “But at the same time, they know that they’re young. They know that we’re developing a brand new team and for those guys to come together, it’s going to be different than what they went through in the previous years where they’ve had senior leadership.”
The last remaining players will get another taste of basketball on the campus of Michigan State, while the next crop gets their first.
“It’s something not every athlete gets to experience in their high school career and for these guys, some of them to experience it twice and some of them it will be their first time playing at the Breslin, as soon as they saw that date on the schedule I know they were really looking forward to it and were really excited,” VanDuinen said.
It will be an early start for Paw Paw as the Redskins make the long trek from southwest Michigan to the Breslin Center.
Coach Scott Eubank enters his fourth season as the head boys basketball coach and will bring an experienced team into this season. Paw Paw returns four starters from an 11-10 team last season and with so much back, it feels like this unit could turn a corner this year.
“We were 10-5 (last year) and we were really rolling and we lost two starters. We lost our point guard for the remainder of the season and he’s back, so we’re really looking forward,” Eubank said.
The Redskins have eight seniors and are led by three players. Junior Tanner Eubank is a taller guard at 6-foot-3 who was honorable mention all-state as a sophomore and is getting Division I interest.
Eubank averaged close to 16 points per game last year for the Redskins and while he is a threat to score, he may not have to as much this season with so much talent coming back. Eubank also used his size at the guard position to average eight rebounds per game last season.
“He pretty much does it all for us. He rebounds, he defends, handles the ball. He’s our go to guy,” Scott Eubank said.
Tanner can also play pretty much anywhere on the floor besides center and moves around to different positions depending on the size of the opponent.
Another experienced returner is senior Christian Brian, a three-year varsity player for the Redskins. Brian was an all-conference point guard last season and Eubank explained that he is a player that rarely makes mistakes as a floor leader.
“Tanner and Christian are so fundamentally sound and they can do so many things for us,” Scott Eubank said.
Senior Sean Brennan is the third cog, averaging 10 points and five rebounds per game last season. In addition to providing another scoring option, Brennan is a great three-point shooter.
“To go with Tanner and Christian, because they can get to the basket at any time, Sean stands out there and is just a great three-point shooter,” Eubank said. “Those three right there are solid, solid players.
The fourth returning starter is 6-foot-5 senior center Cody Warner, who is in his third year starting on the varsity.
Schoolcraft was very close to getting to play on the Breslin Center court again last season, having been here the previous three seasons.
They went 23-3 and reached the Class C state quarterfinals before losing 71-62 to Monroe St. Mary Catholic.
Now the Eagles will get their chance in today’s matchup against Lansing Catholic.
“It always is fun,” Schoolcraft coach Randy Small said about returning to Breslin in his 10th season as coach. “It’s going to be a tough matchup for us but hopefully one where we’ll step up for the challenge.”
Schoolcraft is a Class C school with about 350 kids enrolled. Lansing Catholic is a Class B school. Schoolcraft plays 18 conference games per season in the Kalamazoo Valley Athletic Association, so the chance to play a bigger school in the non-conference is rare.
In addition to being a smaller school, the Eagles will also be a little smaller on the basketball court having to go up against two Lansing Catholic bigs that are 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8.
“We’re going to have to engage them and let them know that they can’t have the inside and that’s going to be challenge for us. We’ve got a couple guys that are 6-5, 6-6, so we’re not little by any stretch but we’re definitely going to have to play tough,” Small said.
Playing with Olivet in the KVA, the Eagles got a good look at a quality post player in Quintan Harris, who played in the Holiday Hoops Invitational last season and is now at Michigan Tech.
“Typically when we play someone outside the conference we base how we’re going to play them on somebody in our league and Harris would be a good example,” Small said. “We’d try and get physical before he got to the lane and try to engage as high as possible, so we’ll try and do that and some other things to keep them off the blocks.”
Senior Kyle Santman will be relied on for post defense and post scoring with a 6-4 frame. Senior Trevor Stoddard is a talented wing for the Eagles and senior Parker Leighton heads things up at the guard spot.
“I think they’ll provide most of the keys for us throughout our season and have the steadiness that we need,” Small said.
WARREN DE LA SALLE
Being back at the Breslin Center will bring back memories for the Warren De La Salle boys basketball program and coach Greg Esler.
Esler won the 1994 Class B state title with St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in a one-point game against East Grand Rapids.
All-state player Travis Conlin hit a baseline runner with two seconds remaining for the game-winning basket. The play is one of the more famous shots in MHSAA state finals history.
De La Salle also reached the state semifinals in 2007, but they were defeated by Redford High School and star scorer Manny Harris before Harris went on to play at the University of Michigan.
The Pilots will be a relatively young team this time around when they take on a powerful Grand Rapids Christian team.
“We lost a lot of players and we have five seniors on the team, but we’re going to start two sophomores for sure and possibly a freshman,” Esler said. “We think we’re going to be real good in March when it matters. Our young talent is good. Our senior leadership is good. We’ve got some guys that can put the ball in the basket.”
De La Salle will be looking to atone for last year’s state playoff performance. They finished the season with a 17-6 record, but had their streak of 15-straight district titles in Class A snapped.
Kevin McKay will be one of the sophomores that will start for Esler, but has experience after starting last year. Esler said McKay is the first freshman that has ever started for him on a varsity team.
McKay has good size for a wing, but checks in at 200 pounds and can be a physical matchup for an opposing defense.
“He’s a really good player and he’s getting some looks at some Mid-American (Conference) schools right now,” Esler said.
Jim Chapman is one of the team’s better shooters and will be a more experienced player as a senior after getting some court time last season. Senior Nelson Cagle is another senior guard that is a good shooter and transferred to De La Salle from Novi.
“With those two seniors, we’re in good hands at the guard position,” Esler said.
Chris Rollins is a sophomore point guard and is listed at only 135 pounds, but is very talented.