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Girls district tournament action begins Monday. (Macomb Daily file photo)

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: District tournament predictions

Dakota district loaded with quality teams

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Who put this format together for the MHSAA, Cruella De Vil?

There’s nothing crueler than the high school state tournament in Michigan.

With no seeding in most sports, some of the best teams inevitably bow out of early.

That certainly will be the case at the Class A girls basketball district at Dakota which begins Monday where three of the top teams in the Macomb County area are involved.

Only one team will move on to the regionals.

Coach Phil McCune’s Dakota Cougars finished 9-3 in the rugged MAC Red Division, and 17-3 overall. They came in second place in the league behind Grosse Pointe South.

Port Huron Northern (11-1, 16-4) was the best team in the MAC White Division.

L’Anse Creuse North was co-champion along with Sterling Heights in the MAC Blue Division. Coach Bob Johnston’s Crusaders finished 11-1 in the division, and are 17-3 overall.

Port Huron Northern tips off the district action at 6 p.m., Monday, when the Huskies take on Anchor Bay.

In Wednesday’s semifinal round, it will be either Anchor Bay or Port Huron Northern versus Port Huron at 5:30 p.m. In that night’s second game, Dakota and L’Anse Creuse North get together.

The winners of those two games will meet in Friday night’s championship game.

“I’ve got to believe our district is one of the toughest in southeastern Michigan,” said Phil McCune, the coach at Dakota.

He knows it will be a tough task just to emerge from his own district. But, if his Cougars do win the district championship, it will be their fourth in five seasons.

“L’Anse Creuse North has a very good point guard (Marisa Oleksiak), one of the best in the state as far as I am concerned. She does a great job of controlling the tempo and knowing what Coach (Bob) Johnston wants,” said McCune.

“They have a very good 3-point shooter in Destiny Rasche, and their two posts (Keearra) Brown and (De’Asia) Clark hit the boards hard. All of that makes L’Anse Creuse North a tough matchup for anybody. We played them last year and lost in double overtime in the district finals,” continued the Dakota coach.

L’Anse Creuse North has won back-to-back Blue Division championships.

The compliments are volleyed right back by Johnston, the L’Anse Creuse North coach.

“Phil McCune’s program is just fantastic,” said Johnston. “He’s got six or seven seniors and they are all very good players. It’s going to be a real challenge.”

Those seniors are Miranda Bates, Olivia Savage, Kylie Townsley, Kylie Churches, Kyli Verduci, Sarah Burke and Angela Terranova. They helped lead the Cougars to a school-record 17 regular-season victories this year.

Over the last two years, the Cougars have been an amazing 19-1 at home, and that fact cannot sit well with anyone coming into the Dakota gym next week.

“It definitely helps to be playing at home,” said McCune. “I think that is a big advantage for any team. With the deep seating, it’s not always easy for other teams to shoot here. We will certainly be on familiar grounds.”

It’s also not easy to defend the Cougars, who have four players averaging about 10 points per game and the fifth starter at eight points per outing.


Class A

(Host Grosse Pointe South)

Grosse Pointe South returned pretty much its entire roster from last year’s team that lost in the Class A championship game. The Blue Devils have lost just once this season to a nationally ranked team in Chicago.

FAVORITE: Grosse Pointe South

DARKHORSE: Grosse Pointe North

PICK: Grosse Pointe South

(Host Warren Woods-Tower)

Cousino and Regina could be a collision course to meet in the finals. The teams met early in the season with the Patriots, who were co-champs in the MAC White, pulling off a 45-43 win. Regina also lost in a district semifinal to Cousino last year, a district the Patriots eventually won.

FAVORITES: Cousino, Regina


PICK: Cousino

(Host Dakota)

This could be one of the more competitive districts in Macomb County.

All three of Dakota’s losses this season came in the MAC Red, where the Cougars took second. L’Anse Creuse North also has three losses and was co-champs in the MAC Blue. Those teams meet in a district final last year with LCN taking the title in double overtime. Port Huron Northern has four losses and was co-champs in the MAC White. Dakota did beat the Huskies this season, 73-59.


DARKHORSES: L’Anse Creuse North, Port Huron Northern

PICK: Dakota

(Host Sterling Heights)

The host Stallions, who were co-champs in the MAC Blue, could be in line to capture their first district crown since the 2009-10 season. Lake Shore needs to rebound after losing on the final night to Marysville with the MAC Gold title on the line. L’Anse Creuse was second in the MAC White and has not won a district title since 1991.

FAVORITE: Sterling Heights

DARKHORSES: L’Anse Creuse, Lake Shore

PICK: L’Anse Creuse

(Host Rochester)

Ford should reach the finals were it will face Rochester Hills Stoney Creek. The Falcons up-temp style helped them to a 16-win season. Utica has to be still on a high after knocking off MAC Gold champ Marysville.

FAVORITES: Ford, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek

DARKHORSE: Rochester

PICK: Rochester Hills Stoney Creek

(Host Oxford)

Clarkston has one loss this season and that came to Dakota. Romeo has been up-and-down all season. When the Bulldogs are hot, they’re red hot, but they can be just as ice cold also.

FAVORITE: Clarkston

DARKHORSES: Oxford, Rochester Adams

PICK: Clarkston

Class B

(Host various sites)

Ferndale will cruise. Fitzgerald did not win a game this season.

FAVORITE: Ferndale


PICK: Ferndale

(Host Clawson)

Detroit Country Day might not be loaded as it has been in the past, but it’s still Detroit Country Day.

FAVORITE: Detroit Country Day


PICK: Detroit Country Day

(Host Lincoln)

The championship will be decided in a district quarterfinal when South Lake hosts Chandler Park, which just beat MAC Blue co-champs L’Anse Creuse North.

FAVORITE: Chandler Park


PICK: Chandler Park

(Host Marysville)

Marysville had its wake-up call when it lost to a one-win Utica squad prior to beating Lake Shore for the outright MAC Gold title. Armada should be waiting for the Vikings in the finals. Injuries have been a problem all season for Richmond.

FAVORITE: Marysville


PICK: Maryville

Class C

(Host Mount Clemens)

The finals should be a matchup for Mount Clemens against University Liggett. Home-court advantage will help the Bathers, but not enough.

FAVORITE: University Liggett

DARKHORSE: Mount Clemens

PICK: University Liggett

(Host Sandusky)

Marlette has steamrolled the competition all year.

FAVORITE: Marlette


PICK: Marlette

Class D

(Host Parkway Christian)

Our Lady of the Lakes is on a collision course to face Roeper in the district title game.

FAVORITE: Our Lady of the Lakes


PICK: Our Lady of the Lakes

(Host Cardinal Mooney)

Katie Theut leads the way for Cardinal Mooney at this district.

FAVORITE: Cardinal Mooney


PICK: Cardinal Mooney

Last Updated: 2/24/2013 7:40:17 PM EST