March Madness arrives for high school boys’ basketball teams

Three Rivers hosting own district

THREE RIVERS — After filling out your NCAA bracket today, take a break and head out for the first night of March Madness for high school boys basketball teams.
There will be plenty of action this week involving local teams.
Three Rivers will host a Class B district.
The action at Three Rivers gets underway tonight with Paw Paw (9-11) battling Vicksburg (6-14) at 6 p.m. The winner advances to face Edwardsburg (4-16) in the first of two semifinal games scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m. The second contest that night puts host Three Rivers (8-12) against Dowagiac (14-5) at 7 p.m. The finals are Friday at 7 p.m.
Here is a look at the Three Rivers and Dowagiac matchup.
Both teams are coming off losses in their final game of the regular season.
Dowagiac lost 52-49 to Otsego in the Wolverine Conference championship game last Thursday.
Three Rivers, meanwhile, dropped its league crossover game last week at Plainwell 76-57.
Three Rivers dropped both regular-season games against Dowagiac 74-57 on the road and 95-73 at home.
Brian Burg says his Wildcats are fired up about starting the postseason at home with districts and that it’s hard for a team to beat someone three times.
That’s Three Rivers’ two biggest motivators coming into the contest with the up-tempo Chieftains.
“We played them (Dowagiac) tough the first couple times we played them. They guys understand the season isn’t over yet. We know we can make this happen. That’s how we’re preparing for it,” Burg said.
“It’s nice to have a couple extra days to prepare for our first game. We have a couple of people that are a bit banged up so it gives them extra time to rest and be ready to go. Basketball season is a long grind. It takes a lot to get your mindset and come in ready to play each night.”
Forgetting about what happened during the regular season is the focus right now.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season. Our kids know they have a real chance to make some noise now. The regular season is over and we did what we could. This week we’re in our own gym with our own rims,” Burg said about playing in familiar surroundings.
On the floor Three Rivers will have to try and slow the game down a bit against a real athletic Dowagiac squad.
“We have to be able to take care of the basketball. The first couple times we played them we had stretches during the game where we had multiple turnovers. Dowagiac scored off a lot of those,” Burg said.
“Both times we were close until the end of the third or beginning of the fourth quarter. Dowagiac is a team that thrives off turnovers and once they get them they are ready to go.”
Although his team will still get out and run the floor when it can, Burg says the Wildcats must offensively be able to rotate to extra spots so it can make the extra pass and get easy shots. Defensively his team must rebound and not allow its opponent to get easy shots and make them work for their points.
Three Rivers has captured the last two district titles and finished 15-8 each of the last two seasons after losing in the regional semifinals.
Senior Tirrell Hausmanis leads Three Rivers in scoring at 16.6 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Junior Halen Heivilin averages 13.8 points, Parker Ellifritz 11.4, and Gavin Charvat 6.5.

Class C district (at Schoolcraft)

SCHOOLCRAFT — Schoolcraft basketball coach Randy Small has been around long enough to know not to take anything for granted.
That’s why Small isn’t putting to much stock into his Eagles being labeled a favorite in its down Class C district this week.
“Ten years ago we had a great record and lost our first game of districts to Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep who came into the postseason 0-20. So by no means are we going to overlook anyone because it’s one and done,” said Small, whose Eagles are coming off an 86-79 loss last Thursday at Coloma.
“I like how we are playing coming into the postseason. The key will be how well we defend. This is district is a winnable one for everyone in it. All the teams are dangerous,” Small said.
Two games are on tap for tonight. Decatur (11-9) faces Marcellus (16-4) in the opener at 6 p.m. Schoolcraft (14-6) meets White Pigeon (4-16) in the second game at 7:30 p.m.
Constantine (11-9) gets the winner of the Decatur/Marcellus game at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Schoolcraft/White Pigeon survivor takes on Lawton (3-17) in the other game that night. The championship is Friday at 7 p.m.
Schoolcraft owns two wins each this season over Constantine and Lawton and one against Marcellus.
Schoolcraft is led by seniors Riley Piper and Trenton Lomason, along with juniors Chris Cooper, Bryce Walther and Kobe Clark and freshman Bryce VanderWiere.
Constantine could play the spoiler role though this week. The Falcons lost a tough 68-63 decision last week at Three Rivers and are coming off an impressive 66-34 win over Lawrence on Thursday.
Constantine is led by junior Seth Wright, sophomores Trey Salisbury and Hunter Bacheller and senior Nolan Malcom.
“We are a team that could make a run this week, but if we don’t show up to play it could be a long night also,” said Constantine coach Travis Walker.

Class C (at Homer)

HOMER — Mendon and Centreville look to salvage disappointing regular-season finishes with a run in this week’s Class C district at Homer.
Action starts tonight with Mendon (12-8) playing at Centreville (9-11).
Also playing tonight are Quincy (16-4) at Union City (7-13) and Bronson (12-8) visits Reading (14-6).
Wednesday’s semifinal game are at Homer. Homer (11-9) hosts either Reading or Bronson in the first game at 5:30 p.m. The Mendon/Centreville survivor faces either Quincy or Union City in the second game at 7 p.m. The finals are Friday at 6 p.m.
Mendon won both games against Centreville in Southwest 10 Conference play this season. The Hornets are coming off a 57-55 loss last Thursday to Union City.
Class D (at Martin)

MARTIN — Howardsville Christian School hopes to capture a district title at Martin this week in Class D.
Tim Jergens’ Eagles are coming off a share of the BCS White Divisional title.
The postseason begins tonight with Martin (8-12) hosting Kalamazoo Phoenix. Howardsville (15-5) entertains Colon (8-12). Climax-Scotts (5-14) hosts Kalamazoo.
Two semifinal games are on tap Wednesday at Martin. The winner of the Martin/Phoenix game faces either Howardsville or Colon at 5:30 p.m. The winner between Climax-Scotts and Heritage faces Burr Oak (8-12) in the second game at 7:30 p.m. The finals are Friday at 7 p.m.
“We have been playing some good basketball with the team coming together with great attitudes and playing for one another. I believe our district could be a challenging one with Colon being a tough first round opponent as they are playing extremely well right now,” Howardsville’s coach said.
“Colon has been to almost 14 of our games filming us so they will know Howardsville better than we know ourselves. Martin is also another solid contender who has played a decent competitive schedule throughout the year. We scrimmaged Kalamazoo Phoenix early in the year, but you never know what they will bring come district time. They are always a tough out. This year should be fun and we are looking forward to the opportunity to compete.”
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or
Please see Monday’s Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.

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