Battle of Shiawassee

CORUNNA — March Madness in Michigan starts for boys basketball tonight.

The place to be for fans in Shiawassee County is the Division 2 district at Corunna, which features six of the area’s 10 teams.

The lineup includes league champions Ovid-Elsie (18-2) and Perry (16-4), both of which are stocked with seniors. Also in the mix is a Durand (12-8) team that’s won its most games in 32 years, along with Chesaning (9-10), Corunna (7-13) and Owosso (1-19).

Perry, which shared the Greater Lansing Activities Conference crown with Leslie and Stockbridge, beat Ovid-Elsie 59-55, at home Tuesday, rallying late from a seven-point deficit. The Marauders, the outright Mid-Michigan Activities Conference champions, could face the Ramblers again in the district finals Friday.

But that’s getting well ahead of the big picture, since March Madness often produces upsets. Perry coach Mike Shauver knows his club must win twice before such a battle could take place — besides, he doesn’t consider his team the favorite.

“I think Ovid-Elsie is the favorite, but I think the district is winnable for all teams,” Shauver said. “Corunna is underrated because they play in a tough league, so their record might not be as good as the others.”

Perry is led by 6-foot-4 forward Caleb Leykauf, who is averaging 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Shooting guard Brodie Crim is averaging 13.1 points per game, while point guard C.J. King averages 9.1 points, 6.5 assists, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 steals.

All three are seniors.

Ovid-Elsie’s one-two punch is 6-3 senior forward Justin Moore and senior point guard Shayne Loynes. Moore averages 16.7 points and 10.8 rebounds. Loynes, who has made 45 3-pointers, scores 17.6 points a game along with 5.2 assists.

O-E squares off against Durand tonight at 5:30 p.m. The Railroaders have won seven of eight and are also stocked with veterans, led by seniors Jaylen Jones (11.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.8 steals) and Chandler Cleveland (11. 1 points, 5.3 rebounds). Another weapon is senior Kyle Winslow (6.4 points, 6.5 rebounds).

“(The Railroaders) are playing well right now and we’re playing them for the third time this year and they are well-coached and they are all we’re worried about at this point,” Ovid-Elsie coach Josh Latz said. “That’s all we’re looking for.”

Durand coach Dave Inman said his team is playing “with tons of confidence,” but still faces a tough road in the district.

Durand’s 12 wins this season is the most for a Railroaders squad since the 1987-88 season, when the team finished 17-5.

“Ovid-Elsie and Perry are the top seeds and are two very balanced, athletic and talented teams,” Inman said. “Both play well together as a team. Chesaning has played top teams tough this season. Corunna is at home and they have unique defenses that could give teams a hard time.”

Inman said Ovid-Elsie will be hard to stop. The Marauders beat Durand 60-33 and 59-29 during the regular season.

“Ovid-Elsie is an incredible team and is battle-tested,” Inman said. “They played a brutal non-league schedule to get them ready for March. They’ve beaten us twice already this season, but we’ve been prepping for them in practice and scouting them hard these last few weeks.”

Perry will play Chesaning in the second game tonight. The Indians feature three senior players who are scoring in double digits — Rae’Quonn Parham (12.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Jack Skaryd (11.0 ppg, 3.0 spg) and Imari Hall (11.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg).

The Indians have won three of their last five, including victories over Burton Madison and Montrose last week to end the regular season.

Chesaning coach Matt Weigl said his team is ready.

“There are a lot of great teams in this district,” Weigl said. “Every one of them very well-coached. Ovid-Elsie and Perry are both coming off great league performances and are going to be extremely tough outs. We have an exciting group with lots of potential. We feel we are very athletic with a great group of senior leaders.”

Wednesday’s district semifinal card will feature Corunna taking on the Ovid-Elsie/Durand winner at 5:30 p.m. and Owosso battling the Perry/Chesaning winner at 7 p.m.

Corunna will be led by Cole Mieske, who has scored 14.5 points per game along with 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals. Corunna’s Carson Socia (11 points per game, 3.3 steals per contest) and Nick Steinacker, (7.1 rebounds, 4.8 points and 1.8 blocks) are tough matchups, too.

Owosso’s Eddie Mishler has rained in 44 3-pointers and is averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. The Trojans’ Jay Tuttle has 31 3-pointers and averages 7.7 points.

Owosso’s lone win came against Corunna — a 48-47 thriller on Jan. 25.

2020 BOYS BASKETBALL

DISTRICT PREVIEW

Division 2 District 40 at Corunna

Schedule: Today — Ovid-Elsie vs. Durand, 5:30 p.m.; Perry vs. Chesaning, 7 p.m.; Wednesday — Corunna vs. Ovid-Elsie/Durand winner, 5:30 p.m.; Owosso vs. Perry/Chesaning winner, 7 p.m.; Friday — Championship, 7 p.m.

Outlook: League champions Ovid-Elsie MMAC) and Perry (GLAC) could face each other in the district finals after they locked horns late in the regular season. But there are challenges ahead for each. The all-area district should have a rowdy atmosphere, with large crowds expected. Durand could be a darkhorse team, though the Railroaders lost 6-foot-8 center Evan Egan, who re-broke the same bone that caused him to miss the first seven games.

Division 3 District 95 at Reese

Schedule: Today — Saginaw Arts & Sciences (10-10) at New Lothrop (17-3), 5:30 p.m.; St. Charles (9-11) at Hemlock (19-1), 7 p.m.; Reese (15-5) at Montrose (2-18), 7 p.m.; Wednesday — New Lothrop/SASA winner vs. Hemlock/St. Charles winner, 6 p.m.; Saginaw Valley Lutheran vs. Montrose/Reese winner, 7:30 p.m.; Friday — Championship, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Hemlock, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press Division 3 state poll, is a favorite along with New Lothrop. “At this time of the year, it’s a brand new season,” New Lothrop coach Brady Simons said. “You throw out the regular season records. We have one of the toughest districts in Division 3.”

The Hornets have been led in scoring this season by Avery Moore, Ty Kohlmann and Luke Birchmeier — all around 10 points per game — with Bryce Richardson, Jake Graves and Dylan Shaydik not far behind. “I think that is a big advantage to us,” Simons said. “We really don’t have any one player to key on.”

Division 3 District 81 at Bath

Schedule: Today — Byron (9-11) vs. Bath (9-11), 6 p.m.; Wednesday — Brighton Charyl Stockwell (10-10) vs. Byron/Bath winner, 5:30 p.m.; Laingsburg (17-3) vs. Dansville (8-12), 7:15 p.m.; Friday — Championship, 6 p.m.

Outlook: Laingsburg is the favorite to win this district; the Wolfpack have already beaten Bath and Dansville twice. Laingsburg is led Hawes brothers. Senior Gabe Hawes, who has 62 3-pointers this season, is averaging 19.1 points, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals. Junior brother Zach Hawes averages 12.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and has 43 3-pointers.

Byron features senior guard Josh Green, who is averaging 17.3 points per game with 40 3-pointers. Braden Hoffman has scored 12.4 points per game with 24 3-pointers, while Jacob Huhn has delivered 7.4 points and 6.0 rebounds. Byron has seven seniors and is looking for its first district title since 2009.

Division 4 District 117 at Webberville

Schedule: Today — Morrice (8-12) vs. Fowler (6-14), 7 p.m.; Wednesday — Lansing Christian (7-13) vs. Morrice/Fowler winner, 6 p.m.; Portland St. Patrick (2-17) vs. Webberville (15-4), 7:30 p.m.; Friday — Championship, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Morrice enters on a four-game winning streak and features Hunter McGowan, who has drained 49 3-pointers and is averaging 14.5 points per game. Peyton Smith (11.6 points per game, 7.5 rebounds) and Owen Doerner (7.7 points per game and 29 3-pointers) give the Orioles more ammunition.“We are playing some of our best basketball this season and we have a great floor leader in McGowan, who handles the ball and gets the ball to the guys in sports to have good looks at the basket,” Morrice coach Jeremy Rogers said. Webberville, the lone team in the field with a winning record, has beaten Morrice twice already this season, 84-56 and 63-50.

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