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Macomb Area Conference Basketball

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Macomb Area Conference Silver Division Preview

Same Faces expected to contend for Silver in '09

Last three Champions; Woods-Tower, Clintondale and Center Line are among the favoritesl Lake Shore and Lamphere are sleeper picks. 



1. Clintondale Dragons

2007-08: 13-8 (11-1 Silver)

Head Coach: Rob Townsend (4th Season)

Location: Clinton Township, Mi

Enrollment: 791

Key Losses: Brendan Adams, Cameron Adams, Kenny Sims

Overview: The Dragons were fantastic down the stretch last season winning seven of their final eight regular season games including a 14 point conquest of Center Line to earn a share of the MAC silver title. Now they face life as the target, they do lose over 35 points per game in the trio of Kenny Sims, Brendan and Cameron Adams, but return two starters including their leading scorer and four year starter.  Along with a few talented youngsters to sweeten the mix the Dragons look poised to take on all comers and defend their title as they hunt for a repeat.

     For the past three seasons James Bethea (13.4 ppg) has been the offensive centerpiece for Clintondale as the forward and center position but this year Bethea, an improved all-around player has made the move to off guard to help Clintondale put its best line-up on the court. Don’t expect this to take away from his aggressive style on the court and look for him to take on the role of leader for this year’s team. Fellow senior and returning starter Denzel Rodgers (5.1 ppg) will be playing college football this time next year, but for now he’ll hammer the boards and thrive on put backs for the Dragons, doing the dirt work that helps a team win big games. A third senior, Cordaro Gaines is an interesting player,  at 6’4” he demonstrates excellent passing skills and court vision and could be used as a point forward in the half court for the dragons on occasion this season.

     The Dragons lave just those three players back from last years roster so a few new additions will round out the starting line-up. A pair of juniors might be up to the task. 6’4” Leterrius Walton could be a force in the middle over the next two years and 6’1” Michael Johnson is another tall athletic guard that could make things real tough on opponents trying to run offensive sets against Clintondale. Their maturation as well as the rest of new additions under the leadership of the senior trio Bethea, Gaines and Rodgers will determine if this years team can repeat and exceed last season’s standard.

Crucial Question: Do they have the depth to survive and injury or foul trouble in a tight game?

Outlook: Only time will tell with such an unproven roster but the trio of seniors they have back are as talented as any in the division or all of the MAC’s class BC schools. Expect them to be in it all season.


Key Players (* returning letterman)

***James Bethea (6’3”, Senior, Wing)

*Denzel Rodgers (6’3”, Senior, Forward)

*Cordaro Gaines (6’4”, Senior, Forward)

Leterrius Walton (6’4”, Junior, Center)

Michael Johnson (6’1”, Junior, Guard)

2. Center Line Panthers

2007-08: 16-5 (11-1 Silver)

Head Coach: Jim Nelson

Location: Center Line, Mi

Enrollment: 1006

Key Losses: Sal Hermiz, Brandon Paschall, Daniel Knapchuck

Overview:  The Panthers have consistently been one of the most explosive and balanced offenses the past few seasons. This despite typically being a very senior oriented team and losing much to graduation every year.  This season will be no exception gone are three starters Sal Hermiz the team leader in scoring and assists, Brandon Paschall a three year player who averaged double figures the past two seasons and 6’5” center Dan Knapchuck who quietly had a very strong senior season. The do however still have seven returning seniors to the roster including three who played major roles last season, couple that with their knack for reloading every year and the present and future much like the recent past looks bright for the Panthers. 

     The centerpiece for the Panthers is one of the top preseason candidates for MAC silver player of the year. Three year varsity starter Jon Essenmacher has excellent range and great shooting touch and has expanded his game a little more each year improve his rebounding and ball handling contributions. Essenmacher’s thirteen double digit scoring efforts and 11.7 point per game averaged were both second best on the team a year ago to Hermiz. He can play all over the court, but should spend most of his time on the wing this year. Joining him as returning contributors and potential starters are Eric Sherrodd and Eric Stevens. Sherrodd averaged 8 points a game in 16 contests while Stevens contributed 5.3 a night in 17 appearances. Both are strong players on the baseline and give the Panthers size and athleticism to add to their frontline.

     The other returnees include guards Demetrius Hawkins and Michael Wynn, both of who could find themselves starting with the graduation of the teams top four guards from a year ago as well as wing Matt Pelish and forward Kyle Smith. Pelish averaged nearly four points per game in the first 10 contests a year ago off the bench. Having seven players back is a nice luxury for a coach, however with no playing experience in the backcourt the Panthers will need find guards quickly who can handle the pressure teams like Clintondale and Tower will apply to them.

Crucial Question: Can the Panthers repeat as champions?

Outlook: In a word, Yes. They can repeat, but it’s far from a sure thing, there are a lot of question marks with this team, who will run the point, how good are the returnees who did not play major roles a year ago, is there help coming from the underclassmen?  Once these questions are answered we’ll have a clear picture of the Panthers fate in ’08-09. 


Key Players (* returning letterman)

**Jon Essenmacher (6’5”, Senior, Wing)

*Eric Sherrodd (6’4”, Senior, Forward)

*Eric Stevens (6’2”, Senior, Forward)

*Matt Pelish (6’1”, Senior, Wing)

*Demetrius Hawkins (5’10”, Senior, Guard)

*Kyle Smith (6’4”, Senior, Forward)

*Michael Wynn 6’0”, Senior, Guard)


3. Woods-Tower Titans

2007-08: 9-13 (5-7 Silver)  

Head Coach: Steve Zdankiewicz (6th season, 3rd at Tower)

Location: Warren, Mi

Enrollment: 1105

Key Losses: Matt Duggan, Matthew Oldenkamp, David Jones

Overview: After a dominating performance in 2006-07 the Titans graduated their core of stars and were left inexperienced and somewhat short handed as teams took their shots at revenge and the Titans lost to five different MAC silver teams. Woods-Tower finished below .500 overall and in league play for the first time since 2003-04. This season there is some more rebuilding as three of their top four scorers are lost to graduation including all-conference selection Matt Duggan. However there is more experience back and the skill level does not drop off much if at all. They will turn up the intensity on defense and look to thrive in the open court; this is a talented group that should be a competitive team.

     One of the challenges this team might face, especially early is their inexperience and youth. Just four returning players and three seniors are on the roster. However two of them are returning starters and proven contributors in which the Titans will build around. Three year varsity player John Patterson (9.7ppg) returns and should be the focal point of the offense. With a smooth perimeter shot and a soft touch around the basket, Patterson is a determined scorer with a knack for putting the ball in the basket. He is a tireless worker who sets the tone for his team mates. At 6’3” senior Andrew Rumpz (5.5ppg) does not have ideal size to play in the post but exceeds expectations with maximum intensity and effort. His constant effort and determination made him a starter in 20 of 21 games as a junior. The third senior returnee is Brent Long; while his minutes were limited a year ago, Long is an explosive athlete that should excel in the Titans press and transition games.

     The depth of the junior class will go a long way to determining the success of this team. It starts with their point guard Andrew Kawam, injury cut his rookie season on the varsity short but he is back and stronger then ever. In addition to excellent quickness on both ends of the court, Kawam’s basketball IQ makes him an ideal fit for the Titans this season. Another junior expected to contribute is Dan Saier. He is one of the team’s better perimeter shooters and should get lots of looks in transition or off penetration. Finally Jake Warwinsky, one of two sophomores on the roster, is a dynamic threat; he candle handle the ball, finish with either hand and be a disruptive force on the defensive end. He could play a big role this season if he picks up the terminology and tempo of the varsity game. Woods-Tower is banking on defensive pressure and perimeter shooting to put them over the top. Their lack of size is an issue but they probably have the most talented core of perimeter players in the division. They will be fun to watch and if they win real fun.

Crucial Question: Can they establish and maintain a tempo to their liking and will it be enough to overcome their lack of size and experience?

Outlook: The perimeter shooters need to shoot a high percentage; Kawam and Patterson will create shots for everyone but will also need to score themselves. The newcomers need to provide reliable depth to allow the team to play such an up-tempo pace. All of these goals can be achieved and if they are they’ll win the silver.


Key Players (* returning letterman)

**John Patterson (6’2”, Senior, Forward)

*Andrew Rumpz (6’3”, Senior, Center)

*Andrew Kawam (5’9”, Junior, Guard)

*Brent Long (6’0”, Senior, Wing)

Dan Saier (6’1”, Junior, Wing)

Jake Warwinsky (6’1”, Sophomore, Guard)


4. Lake Shore Shorians

2007-08: 7-14 (7-5 Silver)

Head Coach: Todd Stevens (5th Season)

Location: St. Clair Shores, Mi

Enrollment: 1094

Key Losses: Kyle Vangheluwe, Anthony Garon, Andrew Chizmadia, Kyle Kennedy

Overview: The last couple seasons have marked notable improvement in the Lake Shore program. They had a 7-5 league record last season and finished third in the division. Still there was a feeling like the team never hit its stride a year ago, battling injures and inconsistencies. They lose their top four scorers from last season and a lot of their size. In addition to a deep senior class they lose a few seniors to transfer and\or not returning to the basketball team. Still there is a nice nucleus in place, solid remaining depth in the senior class and a sophomore point guard with excellent potential. All of this and the large turnover in the rest of the division gives Lake Shore a reason to believe the upward trend can continue.

     Guard play will be a major strength of the team and it starts with the seniors. The lone returning starter is a three year starter, point guard Arthur Coppola (7ppg) who should be looked to as the leader and a top scoring and playmaking threat for the Shorians. He scored in double figures six times last season as a secondary option at best on a senior laden starting line-up. Seniors Kyle Nemitz (4ppg) and Ryan Mazmanian also return at the guard position; Nemitz was a consistent contributor down the stretch last season.  On the interior, Jake Simons (2.5ppg) is the top returnee; at 6’4” he is capable of playing with any post player in the division and the team will place an emphasis on getting him, and the Shorians other post players, low touches on a regular basis. Fellow senior Marcus Cribbs could provide a nice compliment to him up front. Further potential senior depth is seniors Damon Shepard, Bobby Bollenberghe and Nick Mazur all wing players that will compete for playing time.

     The underclassmen could be the catapult that propels this team another level up this season. Sophomore Johnny Johnson was a district call-up as a freshman, he is fast and one of the more highly skilled players the Shorians have despite his inexperience. He could become a starter and a major part of Lake Shore’s attack.

Crucial Question: Can the Shorians continue their in-league success and finally pile-up a few upsets in the crossovers?

Outlook: Ten wins would be a major milestone for this program and like last season, it’s a realistic possibility for the Shorians.  It comes down to the young players’ maturation and the ability of the seniors to provide stability and leadership.


Key Players (* returning letterman)

**Arthur Coppola (5’9”, Senior, Guard)

*Kyle Nemitz (5’10”, Senior, Guard)

*Jake Simons (6’4”, Senior, Center)

Johnny Johnson (5’9”, Sophomore, Guard)

Marcus Cribbs (6’4”, Senior, Forward)

*Ryan Mazmanian (5’8”, Senior, Guard)

*Damon Shepard (6’0”, Senior, Forward)


5. Marine City Mariners

2007-08: 3-18 (2-10 Silver)

Head Coach: Joe Daly (4th Season)

Location: Marine City, Mi

Enrollment: 810

Key Losses: Steve Faucher, Jeremey Kierszykowski

Overview: After a state football title for the school forced the loss of a few key seniors, including their top scorer Brendan Kay, and hurt the early season development of the Mariners, the season never really got on track and they suffered through their worst campaign under Coach Daly. This year they again lose their top scorer, this time to graduation in Steve Faucher, however they return over four of their top eight scorers from a year ago and hope to again contend for a league title or at least get back towards the top half of the standings.

     One of their top returning players figures to be third year wing, senior, Chad Allemon who averaged double digits as the second option a year ago on offense. Allemon’s strength is gritty toughness in the lane and ability to score with the jumper off the dribble. Alongside him as part of the potential all-senior backcourt could be Brad Francis, a 5’10” returnee who provides stability and a calming influence at the point for Marine City. Another senior returnee Robert Salisbury (3.3ppg) could be the opposite wing come December. He is an excellent student and one of the basketball teams best perimeter shooters and defenders; two things that overall will be key to determining Marine City’s fate this season.

In the frontcourt the teams most accomplished returnee is 6’5” pivot Jake Dewey. Dewey was third on the team as a junior, averaging nine points a game overall and double digits in the second half. Another senior, Brent Weil plays bigger then his 6’1” height providing rebounding and defense upfront. He could find himself in the starting line-up this year as well, potentially giving the Mariners an all senior stating line. Again injuries and fatigue from the football season have depleted the team’s depth. Seniors Mike Connin and Josh Byrd both suffered injuries in football that have kept them out thus far. Byrd’s return this season is still up in the air however depending on how quickly he heals.

Crucial Question: Is there enough offense on this team to compete with the top teams in the division?

Outlook: Defense will be the focal point of the Mariners and they could be very strong on that end. Balanced scoring will keep them in games, but who is going to take the big shots? Finding that guy could lead them to a huge turnaround in ’08-09. 


Key Players (* returning letterman)

**Chad Allemon (5’11”, Senior, Wing)

*Jake Dewey (6’5”, Senior, Post)

*Robert Salisbury (5’11”, Senior, Wing)

*Brent Weil (6’1”, Senior, Forward)

*Brad Francis (5’10”, Senior, Guard)

6. Lamphere Rams

2007-08: 4-17 (2-10 Silver)

Head Coach: Adam Wooley (1st Season)

Location: Madison Heights, Mi

Enrollment: 792

Key Losses: Zach Parker, David Frisch

Overview:  No team in the MAC has struggled as mightily as the Rams have since they arrived five years ago along with Madison Heights district rival Madison. The Rams have won just seven league games in four seasons and their best overall finish was matched by last year’s 4-17 campaign. That suggests little reason for optimism until you consider that this years Rams bring back eight senior letter winners, three starters and eight of their top ten scorers overall. Couple that with the enthusiasm of a new coaching staff and this could be the year the Rams start to turn it around.

      Among the three returning starters Dorian Tagal is the most experienced. Tagal (4ppg) is one of two third year varsity players on the team a lock down defender and very steady player on offense. He figures to share the ball handling responsibilities this season. The other three year player is maybe the team’s most important piece heading into the season. Undersized post Derek McCoy (6.3ppg) is the team’s number two returning scorer and the physical force inside that the Rams desperately need. His ability to out quick and out work other post players is the key to his success. The third starter back and the teams top scorer returning scorer is 5’9” senior Nate Laws. Laws averaged nearly seven points a game, third on the team, and was a factor on both ends of the court all year. His quickness creates a lot for Lamphere.

     Also back this season are a pair of frontcourt players and a pair of guards that’ll add depth for the Rams. David Gettel (3ppg) and Peter Makowski are two of just three players returning over 6’0” in height. They’ll be needed to help the Rams contend on the glass and defend the post. The guards 5’9” Matt Barnes and 5’6” Wally Daniel were both limited in action a year ago but occasional got on the score sheet, their minutes too could increase this season. Lamphere will look to press teams and force mistakes, they are not big enough to play half court basketball but smart enough to win despite it. This is their most promising roster since entering the MAC.

Crucial Question: How much better have the Rams gotten and how quickly will it show in the standings?

Outlook: This team could climb its way into the top half of the standings this season, no one in the leagues returns as many players with experience as do the Rams, and though they are undersized they’re a scrappy bunch that expects to compete.


Key Players (* returning letterman)

**Dorian Tagal (5’11”, Senior, Wing)

**Derek McCoy (6’1”, Senior, Forward)

*Nate Laws (5’9”, Senior, Guard)

*David Gettel (6’0”, Senior, Forward)

*Matt Barnes (5’9”, Senior, Guard)

*Peter Makowski (6’3”, Senior, Center)


7. Lakeview Huskies

2007-08: 6-15 (4-8 Silver)

Head Coach: Dennis Hasterias (4th Season)

Location: St. Clair Shores, Mi

Enrollment: 1046

Key Losses: Nico Conti, Sterling Johns, Brandon Herber, Shawn Dusaj, Brian Mitzel, Andrew Wright

Overview: It’s an almost clean slate for the Huskies after their second consecutive, but not nearly as satisfying 4-8 finish in the MAC silver. Gone is a senior class that really catapulted Lakeview the lowest of lows and back-to-back one win seasons on the silver to eight wins in two years and helped them become a consistently competitive team. Point guard Nico Conti, Shawn Dusaj and Sterling Johns were all part of the one win teams and the turn around the past two seasons and they are gone as are Brian Mitzel, Andrew Wright and Brandon Herber, soccer players who had strong senior seasons for Lakeview combining to average 25 points per game.

     The only player  with significant expereince back with the Huskies from last season is Matt Calleja, the 5’9” junior averaged seven and a half points (fourth on the team) last season as a sophomore and had two of the highest single game outputs of the season for Lakeview with 24 points against Richmond and 20 against Mt. Clemens. He will need to be a leader for the Huskies as they strive to shake things up in the Silver. The remainder of the roster will be comprised of mostly new faces either underclassmen or transfers.

     One other returnee, senior Mike Hix could factor in at the other guard spot; he is the only senior back with the program. Junior Adams Wells also figures to contend for a starting spot and playing time on the wing, while in the frontcourt sophomore Zeke Vicchio is a player the Huskies are really high on. Despite the questions surrounding what this team will look like their is optomism within. There is talent here and a focus on defense that they believe will lead to success now and down the road.

Crucial Question: Can the Huskies surpass last season's win total and keep the program on the rise?

Outlook: This is another team that could surprise in the Silver where as the past has shown things can turn around for a program quickly. Still with so little back they'll have an uphill battle most of the way.


Key Players (* returning letterman)

Matt Calleja (5’9”, Junior, Guard)

Mike Hix (5'9", Senior, Guard)

Adam Wells (6'0", Junior, Wing)

Zeke Vicchio (6'1", Sophomore, Forward)



8. Clawson

2007-08: 10-13 (4-7 Metro conference) Lost to Bishop Foley in District Final

Head Coach:

Location: Clawson, Mi

Enrollment: 559

Key Losses: N\A

Overview: In the past decade, Clawson has moved from the OAA, to the Metro and now becomes the 36th member of the MAC. In several sports including girls basketball the conference has gone to six, six team divisions (Bronze is the new one naturally) however boys basketball has simply added them as the eighth team in the still new MAC Silver.

Vs. The MAC last season: Lost to Madison 52-35, Lost to Lamphere 44-42 and Defeated Lakeview 44-43.


Key Players (* returning letterman)




   There will be eight teams in the silver division for the first time in its existence. The MAC has opened its doors and expanded for the third time in five years and added Clawson, the only change to the Silver’s alignment for ’08-09.

   At the top of the preseason heap are the defending co-champs Clintondale and Center Line. Each has two returning starters but only the Dragons have four year starter James Bethea and that gives them the edge.

   The last champion other then them, Woods-Tower is in the middle of the pack along with Lake Shore, Marine City and Lamphere.  All of these teams have reasons to be optimistic this season.

   Woods-Tower has a couple of real good perimeter players as does Lake Shore and those two have proven it; we’ll swap their finish from last season and go Tower three, Shore four. After that as much as we like Lamphere Marine City gets a slight edge with its interior size.

   It’s probably unfair to put Lakeview and Clawson at the bottom because they are the two MAC teams we know the least about. Clawson, obviously because they’re new and Lakeview having lost so many seniors and having so few returnees we know of.



1. Clintondale

2. Center Line

3. Woods-Tower

4. Lake Shore

5. Marine City

6. Lamphere

7. Lakeview

8. Clawson




1. Clintondale         40%

2. Center Line         17%

3. Lake Shore          17%

4. Woods-Tower         13%

5. Lamphere             6%

6. Marine City          4%

7. Lakeview             2%

8. Clawson              1%




James Bethea, Clintondale

Jon Essenmacher, Center Line

John Patterson, Woods-Tower

Arthur Coppola, Lake Shore

Denzel Rodgers, Clintondale

Eric Sherrodd, Center Line

Chad Allemon, Marine City

Dorian Tagai, Lamphere

Brian Mitzel, Lakeview






Backcourt: Woods-Tower


Frontcourt: Clintondale


Homecourt: Lamphere


Jump Shooter: Jon Essenmacher, Center Line


Scorer: John Patterson, Woods-Tower


Post Player: Denzel Rodgers, Clintondale


Defender: Dorian Tagai, Lamphere


Ballhandler: Arthur Coppola, Lake Shore


Athlete: James Bethea, Clintondale


Dunker: Michael Johnson, Clintondale


Breakout Player: Andrew Kawam, Woods-Tower


Underclassman: Johnny Johnson, Lake Shore


College Prospect: James Bethea


Top Returning Scorers

1. James Bethea             13.4

2. Jon Essenmacher          11.7

3. Chad Allemon             10.2

4. John Patterson            9.7

5. Jake Dewey                8.9

6. Eric Sherrodd             8.0

7. Matt Calleja              7.6

8. Brian Mitzel              7.5

9. Arthur Coppola            6.7

10. Nate Laws                6.7


Past MAC Silver Champs

2005: Lincoln

2006: Lincoln

2007: Woods-Tower

2008: Center Line\Clintondale



5-year records SILVER  OVERALL

Woods-Tower     35-13   63-46

Center Line     33-15   55-51

Clintondale     31-17   52-55

Marine City      7-17   46-63

Lake Shore      21-27   31-75

Lakeview        10-38   30-76

Lamphere         5-43   10-74


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