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  • Robert Lathers

The Portland Beacon’s 2019 MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament Preview- Portland District #50

Ionia Bulldogs -- Season Record 17-3* (10-0 CAAC White) – Head Coach Scott Swinehart - 19th year. The Bulldogs waltzed through the CAAC White Division this year. In games against current District 50 opponents the Bulldogs defeated Portland twice (51-40 & 69-32); Lansing Sexton twice (85-47 & 64-58); Lakewood Lake Odessa in their only meeting (68-53); and Lansing Catholic twice (74-71 & 73-63). After a 1 win 2 loss start at the beginning of the season, Ionia reeled off 12 consecutive wins. The Bulldogs are led by Senior standout Brady Swinehart who has scored over 1,000 points in his varsity career. Other Key players to watch: Nick Szymanski and Gage Taylor. MHSAA Tournament History: The Bulldogs won a District Championship in 2018. They won Regional Championships in 1993 and 2003, which have been their deepest runs in MHSAA tournament play.

Lakewood Lake Odessa Vikings—Season Record 3-17* (1-11 GLAC)- Head Coach Chris Duits - 5th year. Lakewood has been competitive in virtually all their games this year, including a triple-overtime loss in the closing weeks of the season to Lansing Christian (82-87). Mike Quinn, Lakewood’s Athletic Director, recently said, “These kids are having fun. They have great attitudes and are not looking forward to their season ending”. Lakewood lost to Ionia and to Portland (42-67) in their only two games against this year’s District Opponents. Key players to watch: Bryant Makely, Nathan Dillon, and Denny DeVries. MHSAA Tournament History: The Vikings last won a District Championship in 2007 and the Class B State Championship in 1975.

Lansing Catholic Cougars - Season Record 14-6* (7-3 CAAC White) - Head Coach Brian Dartt -15th year. Coach Brian Dartt, in his first year as the Cougars Head Coach, says that his team is, “Focused and excited about the tournament”. Dartt, who was Class C Coach of the Year in 2004 after leading Olivet to the Class C State Championship, notes that the Cougars “have a very deep and talented bench that is responsible for about 30% of the teams scoring”. The Cougars lost twice this year to their opening round opponent and League Champion Ionia. They defeated Portland twice (70-36 & 78-57); Lansing Eastern once (78-61); and Lansing Sexton twice (106-73 & 95-72). Key Players to watch: Freshman Alex Waters, and Seniors Josh Kramer and Charlie Nylander. MHSAA Tournament History: The Cougars last won a District Championship in 2014 and the Class B State Championship in 2008.

Lansing Eastern Quakers-Season Record 9 -11* (3-7 CAAC Red) - Head Coach Dave Jones- 2nd year. The Quakers play in the highly competitive CAAC Red Division. They have played two games against District #50 Opponents this year. In the first game they lost to Lansing Catholic. In the second game they played cross-town rival Lansing Sexton and won in overtime (81-80). In that game Senior Diante Smith hit three free throws with no time left on the clock to tie the game and force overtime. Smith finished the game with 35 points and 28 rebounds. Key Players to watch: Diante Smith, Lerone Hall and Terry McCord. MHSAA Tournament History: The Quakers last won a Class A District Championship in 2014 and were Class A State Champions in 1934 & 1980.

Lansing Sexton Big Reds-Season Record 2 -18* (1-9 CAAC White) - Head Coach Steve Finamore -14th year. This season has been a rebuilding year for the Big Reds. Coach Finamore, former Head Coach at Portland and East Lansing, is in his first year at the helm at Sexton. Big Reds Athletic Director Chris Henderson said, “We are really excited about our program and where Coach Finamore is going to take it” Sexton has played all District Opponents except Lakewood this year, losing once to Lansing Eastern in overtime, twice to Ionia, twice to Lansing Catholic and they split with Portland (74-72 & 58-71). Key Players to watch: Emmanuel Jones; Rashaad Greenwood; Carteaye Gordon and John Lenior. MHSAA Tournament History: The Big Reds last won a District Championship in 2013. They were Class A State Champions in 1945, 1959, and 1960 and were Runner-Up in 1953. They also have been Class B State Champions in 2011 &2012 after being Runner-Up in 2010.

Portland Raiders- Season Record 5-13* (2-8 CAAC White) - Head Coach Dave Pettit - 10th year. The Raiders have had a difficult time establishing their rhythm this year after having literally no time to condition and prepare for the season due to the fact that most of the varsity players were on the football team that played in the Division 5 State Championship Game and then played three basketball games the following week virtually without the benefit of practices. The Raiders lost twice to Ionia, lost twice to Lansing Catholic, defeated Lakewood in the only game between the two teams, and won one and lost one versus Lansing Sexton. Key Players to watch: Owen Russell, Aryan Virk and Tate Dziewiatkowski. MHSAA Tournament History: Portland last won a District Championship in 2017. They won a Regional Championship in 1951 in their deepest run in MHSAA tournament play.

The winner of District # 50 will advance to the Marshall Regional where they will play the winner of Charlotte District # 52 which includes Charlotte (5-15), Eaton Rapids (12-8), Jackson Northwest (8-11), Michigan Center (18-2), Parma Western (14-5) and Stockbridge (12-6).

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