DISTRICT BASKETBALL PREVIEWS

Schoolcraft heavy favorite to claim Class C district honors

WHITE PIGEON — With only one loss, Schoolcraft appears to be an overwhelming favorite to win this week’s Class C boys’ basketball title at White Pigeon.
But as Eagles’ head coach Randy Small has learned during his long coaching tenure the team with the best record doesn’t always prevail.
Small remembers far too well the season his Eagles were upset in the opening round of district play by a winless Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep team.
Tonight’s action begins with a doubleheader. Schoolcraft takes on Constantine in the opener at 6 p.m. followed by Lawton against Decatur in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m.
Centreville faces the Constantine/Schoolcraft winner at 6 p.m. Wednesday. White Pigeon battles the Lawton/Decatur survivor in the second game that night at 7:30 p.m. The finals are at 7 p.m. Friday.
Schoolcraft’s lone loss this season came on the road at Hackett Catholic Prep 50-39. The Eagles defeated the Irish later in the season 63-47 at Schoolcraft.
“I like where we are headed going into districts,” Small said following his team’s 60-17 win on Friday in the season finale at Constantine.
“Our kids need to stay focused. If you have one bad night on the court you go home,” Small said.
Many believe Schoolcraft has its most talented team since the 2011 Eagles’ squad that captured a state title.
Schoolcraft is led by senior guard Caleb Eustice who averages 13 points per game and is shooting 47 percent from three-point territory.
Senior Ricky Clark sports a scoring norm of 12 points and is shooting over 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Senior guard Max Kulczyk, along with junior guard Riley Piper and senior postplayer Jason Feddema are also standouts for the Eagles.
The Eagles’ depth and fast-paced attack has helped them to many lopsided losses this season.
If there is any team that could give Schoolcraft trouble in this district, it’s Centreville.
Mike Hunter’s Bulldogs are coming off the most victories in a single season in several years.
“We need to play hard against whomever we play this week,” Hunter said.
Centreville is led in scoring by 6-5 junior center Hayden Stauffer at 14.9 points per game and 9.5 rebounds a contest.
Senior Coletin Gascho averages 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Tyler Carpenter sports norms of 7.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists for Centreville.
Sophomore postplayer Chris Cooper (6-6) averages 6.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Bulldogs and senior guard Brady Reynolds averages 5.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while Alex Stafford averages 4.8 points and Ross Hunter 3.7 points.
White Pigeon could pull off a surprise win .
Jeff Baechler’s Chiefs started the season 0-11, but pulled off surprise victories over Climax-Scotts, Three Oaks River Valley and New Buffalo.
Junior Noah Krull, sophomore Carter Grant, juniors Kam Garten and Austin Yoder and senior Zane Shoppell are the big contributors for White Pigeon in scoring and rebounding.
Constantine has had a rough season under first-year coach Travis Walker.
Senior Evan Herschbach is averaging over 14 points per game for Constantine.
The Falcons will need a big night from Anthony Evilsizor, Herschbach, Dylan Shafer, Reece Herschbach, Nolan Malcom, Zach Bittner, Seth Wright, Charles Hamilton, Trey Salisbury and the rest of the crew to stay competitive with the Schoolcraft.
Favorite: Schoolcraft
Darkhorse: Centreville
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or sports@threeriversnews.com.

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