Dowagiac’s Dontel Highsmith hopes to lead the Chieftains to their second district championship in the last three seasons. Dowagiac opens up district play Monday night against undefeated Lakeshore in Berrien Springs. (Leader photo/File)
Dowagiac’s Dontel Highsmith hopes to lead the Chieftains to their second district championship in the last three seasons. Dowagiac opens up district play Monday night against undefeated Lakeshore in Berrien Springs. (Leader photo/File)

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Class B Boys Districts: Dowagiac vs. Lakeshore is huge

Published 5:21pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You can’t ask for a better matchup than the one you’ll see in game two at the Class B boys basketball district at Berrien Springs High School. On March 4, second-ranked Lakeshore faces third-ranked Dowagiac around 8 p.m.

The Lancers claimed the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division title this year and are the defending state runner-up. The Chieftains finished the regular season as the Wolverine Conference West Division champion. Dowagiac entered the final week of the regular season with an 18-1 record.

Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt loves having the showdown early.

“Most people would like to see the two teams play for the district title,” said Hunt. “I embraced it right away. I’m up for the challenge. It’s competition. Our guys like and have talked about it for awhile. We’ve prepared for this all season. More than likely we would have had to see them at some point so why not do it right out of the gate. It’s a good rivalry. I believe its going to be a fun and entertaining game.”

Dowagiac and Lakeshore didn’t face each other during the season. It’s a battle between Dowagiac’s great offense (79.1 ppg.) and Lakeshore’s great defense (39.4 points allowed a game).

“I feel that its tough for teams to move up and down the floor with us for 32 minutes,” Hunt said.

The Chieftains are led by Northern Illinois University recruit Dontel Highsmith. The 6-foot-3 standout is averaging 29.7 points, nine rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks a game for Dowagiac.

“You don’t see any player that does it night in and night out like him,” Hunt said about Highsmith. “His overall game has improved during his senior year. His motor is non-stop.”

But Highsmith is far from a one-man show on offense. Other consistent scorers for Dowagiac are Davion Highsmith (15 ppg.), D.J. Hunt (12 ppg.) and Kyle Solloway (10.7 ppg.).

“Offensively, we’ve got guys that can put up 20 or more points a game besides Dontel,” Danum Hunt said.

Hunt saw Lakeshore play three times this season.

“I know that they like to go inside,” the Dowagiac coach said. “We have to work on help-side and post defense and box-out well if we want to have an opportunity to win the game.

“Offensively, we won’t change what we do. We want to go up and down the floor and make buckets.”

Lakeshore has three double figure scorers in Keith Brushwyler (15.8 ppg.), Harold Wiggins (11.8 ppg.) and Michael Welch (11.5).

Lakeland Conference champion Buchanan, which had a 12-7 record entering the final week of the regular season, will face the Benton Harbor-Coloma winner at 6 p.m. on March 6th at Berrien Springs. Kevin Dey is averaging 11 points a game to lead the Bucks.

“There are good teams at the district,” Hunt said. “Anybody could end up winning it. Ultimately, it comes down to who is the toughest and better team on a given night. You can’t take anything for granted.”

 

Class B at Edwardsburg

Host Edwardsburg, which was 14-5 with a game remaining in the regular season, faces defending district champion Sturgis at a Class B district on March 4 at 7 p.m. The Eddies and Trojans didn’t play each other during the regular season. Edwardsburg and Sturgis did scrimmage each other early in the year.

“Sturgis has nice size,” said Eddies coach Dan Gunn. “Their center (Chance Stewart) is someone that can carry a team. They’re capable of winning the district. It’s a challenge for us to begin with.”

Edwardsburg also had a player that can carry a team deep in the state tournament. That player is Josh Kozinski. The Central Michigan University recruit is averaging almost 23 points a game.

“I do believe that Josh can carry us,” Gunn said. “I don’t know if Josh can have a better game than the one he had against Allegan (on Feb. 23, a 75-49 Edwardsburg win).”

Kozinski scored 36 points, including seven 3-pointers, and had eight assists against Allegan.

“(Kozinski) does a lot for us,” Gunn said.

Does Gunn think that playing at home is an advantage for his team?

“I think it’s a big thing,” the Eddies coach said. “We’ve played extremely well at home. It’s a plus for us.”

Gunn said he feels that the district is going to be very competitive.

“I think the district is wide open,” he said. “Vicksburg (55-51) and Paw Paw (60-58) have beat us this year.”

 

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