Tigers face River Rouge in semis

EAST LANSING — Class B could feature the most entertaining matchups of this weekend’s Boys Basketball Finals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.

From one side of the bracket will emerge a longtime power — Benton Harbor, seeking its first title in more than a half century, or 14-time winner River Rouge.

On the other side, reigning champion New Haven is coming off its first MHSAA title and looking to repeat led by star junior Romeo Weems – who will surely get some time facing Grand Rapids Catholic Central standout Marcus Bingham, Jr., as the latter works to lead his team to its first Finals championship in this sport.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class C and Class B). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. The Class D, A and C championship games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, while the Class B Final will be shown on Fox Sports Detroit on a delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. All four championship games will be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

Here is a glance at the semifinalists. Statistics are through teams’ regional finals.

BENTON HARBOR

Record/rank: 25-1, No. 3

League finish: Does not play in a league.

Coach: Corey Sterling, sixth season (112-37) 

Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1965), seven runner-up finishes.

Best wins: 71-51 over No. 8 Williamston in quarterfinal, 67-52 over honorable mention Hudsonville Unity Christian in regional semifinal, 77-49 (district semifinal) and 55-46 over honorable mention Coloma.

Players to watch: Carlos Johnson, 6-6 soph. F (18.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.1 bpg); Shawn Hopkins, 6-4 sr. F (15.7 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 3.1 apg).

Outlook: Benton Harbor was Class B runner-up in 2014 and made the semifinals a year ago, and Johnson and Hopkins starred for last season’s team as well. Senior guard Elijah Baxter (9.7 ppg, 6.7 apg) also started last season. Senior guards Dennie Brown and Devan Nichols both average just above 10 ppg as well, and total six players this winter average at least 8.8. The only loss was to Class A Hazel Park, which finished 18-3.

RIVER ROUGE

Record/rank: 23-1, No. 4

League finish: First in Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue

Coach: Mark White, second season (47-3) 

Championship history: 14 MHSAA titles (most recent 1999), five runner-up finishes. 

Best wins: 50-43 over honorable mention Detroit Old Redford in rgional final, 59-44 over Dearborn Divine Child in Quarterfinal, 75-32 over St. Clair Shores South Lake in regional semifinal, 48-42, 56-45 and 77-45 over Harper Woods. 

Players to watch: Jayvien Torrance-Jackson, 6-1 sr. G; Bralin Toney, 5-10 jr. G. (Statistics not submitted.).

Outlook: River Rouge is back at the semifinals for the second straight season and after a one-point overtime last time loss kept it from a first championship game berth since 1999. Torrance-Jackson not only is the only starter back from that team, but also the only senior on this one. Toney also saw time off the bench in last season’s semifinal and joins him in the backcourt, while the frontcourt includes two 6-6 post players. The lone loss this winter was to Class D semifinalist Southfield Christian.

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