The Dowagiac basketball team, which recently honored last year's Final Four team, begins its quest for a return trip Monday night in Coloma. (Daily News Photo/File)

Archived Story

Title defense begins Monday

Published 1:36pm Sunday, March 4, 2012

Last season, the Dowagiac basketball team got on a roll the second half of the season and road it all the way to East Lansing.

Winning its first district and regional championships in nearly three decades, the Chieftains are hoping to repeat that success again.

Dowagiac opens defense of its Class B District championship, but it will do so against a new field of competitors.

The Chieftains (15-5) were moved out of their traditional district location when Benton Harbor dropped into Class B.

Dowagiac will head to Coloma Monday to face Parchment (5-14) in the opening round of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. The winner advances to face South Haven (12-8) in the semifinals Wednesday night. The finals are set for Friday at 7 p.m.

The Chieftains finished runner-up in the Wolverine Conference this season and are led by one of the area’s top scorers and players in junior point guard Dontel Highsmith.

Highsmith will enter the tournament averaging 29 points per game.

But if Dowagiac is going to successfully defend its district title and get back to the Breslin Center and the Final Four, it is going to need to get contributions from everyone.

The Chieftains have just two seniors on the squad, Craig Zebell and Eric Charles. Both are going to have to play well and fill their respective roles. Zebell is a defensive specialist who can also score. Charles is Dowagiac’s presence in the post.

Guards Brendon Murray and Tyler Clark, the Chieftains’ other two starters, will need to give Dowagiac offensive production and shore up the defense at the other end of the court.

“We need to be consistent defensively,” Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt said.
Part of that defensive effort will come against Parchment’s Brady VanderWeele, who is also among the state’s top scorers.

“They like to play the up tempo game,” Hunt said. “They are not big. I would say they are probably smaller than we are. They like to press and they like to run, so it will possibly be a track meet on Monday and, if that is what they want to do, that works in our favor.”

MHSAA District Tournament
Class B at Coloma

Dowagiac vs. Parchment, 5:30 p.m.
Coloma vs. Plainwell 7 p.m.

Paw Paw vs. Plainwell-Coloma winner, 5:30 p.m.
South Haven vs. Parchment-Dowagiac winner, 7 p.m.

Championship game, 7 p.m.

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