Prep boys basketball: Negaunee, Munising advance to boys regionals this week

MARQUETTE – The road doesn’t look particularly easy for either of the two basketball teams still remaining in the Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournaments.

Both are boys teams – Negaunee and Munising – as the final three girls teams were eliminated in last week’s regionals.

Regionals are upcoming for the boys this week, at Marquette Senior High School in Class C for Negaunee and Escanaba High School in Class D for Munising.

Both teams play in the second game of doubleheaders on Monday, the 20-1 Miners against St. Ignace (14-7) at 8 p.m. and the 19-3 Mustangs against North Central (23-0) at 7:45 p.m.

Negaunee is the favorite in its district as the No. 1 team in Class ABC in last week’s final poll of the season conducted by the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. The Miners are also No. 3 in the state in the Associated Press’ Class C poll of a week ago.

Ironwood (19-3) plays Norway (8-12) in the 6 p.m. Monday Class C game. The Red Devils finished as the No. 5 team in the U.P. in Class ABC.

All four teams in the Escanaba regional were ranked in the top five or received votes in the final U.P. Class D poll.

Munising was third in that poll and 12th in the state AP Class D rankings, with undefeated North Central was a unanimous No. 1 all season in the U.P. and is ranked No. 2 in the state.

Monday’s 6 p.m. Class D matchup pits U.P. No. 5 Forest Park (19-3) vs. Lake Linden-Hubbell (19-3), which received a pair of votes in the final U.P. rankings. The Crystal Falls team was also ranked No. 10 in the final state poll.

Monday’s winners meet at the same site at 7 p.m. Wednesday for regional championship games and a berth to their respective quarterfinals to be played at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18.

The Class C quarterfinal will be played at Petoskey against the winner of the Traverse City St. Francis regional, which includes the host Trojans, East Jordan, Mio Au Sable and Beaverton. Those last three teams were all among teams that received votes but didn’t crack the top 10 in last week’s state Class C poll.

East Jordan eliminated No. 4 Boyne City, 44-42, in its district championship game on Friday, while Beaverton did it one better, defeating No. 7 Sanford-Meridian 46-43 in a district semifinal on Wednesday and No. 8 Leroy Pine River 55-46 in the district final on Friday.

The Class D quarterfinal is tentatively scheduled for Marquette Senior High School, but traditionally has been moved to a site further east in the U.P. if the opponent, the winner of the St. Ignace regional, comes from the Lower Peninsula.

That region includes Cedarville and Rudyard from the U.P. and Hillman and Alanson Littlefield from the below the Mackinac Bridge. Cedarville finished the season ranked No. 2 in the U.P. and No. 6 in the state, while Hillman was No. 8 in the state.

State semifinal and championship games are set for the Breslin Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing later next week.

Semifinal games are on Thursday, March 18, at 2:50 p.m. for a Class C team that comes from the U.P. and at 7:50 p.m. for a Class D school.

State championship games will be played on Saturday, March 20, at 10 a.m. for Class D and 4:30 p.m. for Class C.

Among the teams lurking in a possible semifinal game for Negaunee are No. 1 Mount Clemens, No. 2 Detroit Consortium and No. 5 Detroit Allen Academy, while for Munising No. 5 Battle Creek St. Philip is the only top-10 team in the quarter of the bracket the Mustangs would face in its semifinal.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.