Believe it or not, the final week of the boys high school basketball season is upon us, with quarterfinal games set to take place Tuesday throughout the state in all four divisions.
The semifinals will be Thursday and Friday at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center, with the championship games set for Saturday.
Here is a look at the storylines to follow and a schedule of games.
Emoni Bates fever
It is fast gripping the high school sports world in the state.
For those unfamiliar with who Bates is, he is a freshman at Ypsilanti Lincoln who is rated by several recruiting services as the No. 1 freshman player in the country.
Some believe he might be the best freshman in the history of Michigan, which is saying something for a state that has produced the likes of Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, Derrick Coleman, Jalen Rose, Glen Rice, Cazzie Russell and Steve Smith.
A 6-foot-9-inch forward, the 15-year-old Bates is averaging more than 30 points and nine rebounds a game this season and has already hit two game-winning shots during Lincoln’s state playoff run.
During a regional final win last week over Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Bates tipped in the game-winning shot before the final buzzer sounded to give his team a win and thrill a capacity crowd that was lined up outside the building for more than an hour before the game to get in.
Many fans had to be turned away at the entrance because the gym was filled.
The next stop for Bates and Lincoln is a Division 1 state quarterfinal on Tuesday against Detroit Martin Luther King at Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall.
The line to get into that game might have started last Friday.
Mr. Basketball still playing
With all the hoopla surrounding Bates, it’s easy to forget that this year’s winner of the Mr. Basketball award, New Haven’s Romeo Weems, is also still playing.
A versatile 6-foot-7-inch forward, Weems has signed with DePaul and is looking to lead New Haven to its second state championship after helping the Rockets win their first two, years ago as a sophomore.
New Haven will meet Harper Woods Chandler Park in a quarterfinal at Ortonville Brandon.
2 defending champs still left
There will be new champions in Division 1 and Division 2, formerly known as Class A and Class B.
Clarkston, champion the past two seasons in Class A, was upset on the first night of the playoffs by Rochester Adams after a 17-win regular season.
After legendary head coach Dan Fife retired following last season’s title, Clarkston didn’t miss much of a beat with a new coach and three freshmen starters in the lineup, but that inexperience might have played a role in its early elimination.
Last year’s Class B champion, Benton Harbor, was beaten in a regional final by Hudsonville Unity Christian.
That leaves Detroit Edison in Division 3 and Southfield Christian in Division 4 as the teams left with a chance to repeat, and of those two, Southfield Christian has the best odds.
Edison (18-7) has enjoyed a good year, but faces a major challenge in the form of No. 1-ranked Flint Beecher in a Tuesday quarterfinal.
Beecher has won five state titles since 2012.
Southfield Christian is always a talented team that beats Class A schools during the regular season, and is a good bet to repeat in Division 4.
Why are the boys finals a week earlier?
Usually, this would be the final week of the state girls basketball tournament while the boys would be in the regional round, but the seasons were switched this year due to the availability of Breslin Center.
Next week is scheduled to be the start of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, and Breslin Center needed to be available in case Michigan State’s women’s team earned the right to host first- and second-round games.
This stemmed from an incident a few years back when MSU’s women’s team earned the right to host first- and second-round NCAA tournament games, but Breslin Center was already booked for the high school state girls basketball finals, forcing the MSU women to play in Mississippi.
(all games Tuesday)
Saginaw vs. Howell at Grand Blanc, 7 p.m.
Ypsilanti Lincoln vs. Detroit Martin Luther King at Calihan Hall, 5:30 p.m.
Detroit U-D Jesuit vs. Roseville at Calihan Hall, 7:30 p.m.
East Kentwood vs. Okemos at Caledonia, 7 p.m.
Ludington vs. Alma at Mount Pleasant, 7 p.m.
Grand Rapids South Christian vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian at Calvin College, 7 p.m.
Haslett vs. River Rouge at Chelsea, 7 p.m.
Harper Woods Chandler Park vs. New Haven at Ortonville Brandon, 7 p.m.
Iron Mountain vs. Sanford Meridian Early at Petoskey, 6 p.m.
Detroit Edison vs. Flint Beecher at St. Clair Community College, 7 p.m.
Hanover-Horton vs. Erie-Mason at Tecumseh, 7 p.m.
Pewamo-Westphalia vs. Cassopolis at Richland Gull Lake, 7 p.m.
Dollar Bay vs. Pellston at Escanaba, 7 p.m.
Southfield Christian vs. Genesee Christian at West Bloomfield, 6 p.m.
Frankfort vs. Big Rapids Crossroads at Cadillac, 7 p.m.
Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian vs. Bellevue at Charlotte, 7 p.m.