The favorites in the Class A basketball state tournament are dropping like flies.
One of the favorites to win the state title, East Lansing, suffered just its second loss of the season in Friday's district finals round. The Trojans were ranked No. 4 in the final state rankings.
Ann Arbor Huron and Inkster — two teams that reached the state semifinals last year — both lost on Friday as well.
Petoskey was 18-2 during the regular season, but lost in the first round of the districts to Marquette.
All those upsets have done wonders to clear the path of obstacles for the defending Class A state champions from Grand Haven. But those upsets have also had another effect — they've forced the Buccaneers to realize that anything can happen on any given night.
"We've just got to take care of business and beat Gaylord," said Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, whose team takes on Gaylord on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the regional semifinals at Traverse City West. "They play really hard, they're scrappy, and this is big for them. They hadn't won a district in years. They've got momentum, and they'll be playing in their own territory.
"I'm glad we'll be playing a team we haven't seen before. I don't know what their record is, and I don't care. We're going to go up there and play our game."
Gaylord, for the record, is 13-9, a far cry from Grand Haven's unblemished 23-0 mark (and 46 straight wins dating back to last year).
The Bucs have gotten to this point by playing outstanding defense and getting the ball inside to 6-foot-5 center Abby Cole and 6-1 forward Taylor Craymer.
On Tuesday, size will again be a huge advantage for Grand Haven against a guard-dominated Gaylord squad.
"They don't have much of an inside game," Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. "They're very guard-oriented. They're going to run a five-man motion against us, make us come out and guard the floor. They shoot a ton of 3's, and they look to attack off the dribble and get to the free throw line.
"They're going to 2-2-1 press us, and they run some 1-3-1 zone. I anticipate they're going to play us zone because they don't have much size."
The Blue Devils' top player is 5-7 guard Mackenzie Edwards. She'll play basketball next year at Lake Superior State University. Edwards suffered a broken wrist early in the year and missed a good portion of her senior season, but is back at full strength. She scored 15 points in her team's district championship win over Traverse City West.
WARRIORS TO FACE DELTON KELLOGG
Western Michigan Christian hopes to keep its outstanding season alive when it travels to Springport (located between Albion and Lansing) to face a strong Delton Kellogg team on Tuesday.
The Warriors are 15-5 on the year while Delton Kellogg boasts a 19-4 mark. The two teams face off at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, while Grandville Calvin Christian (16-2) and Carson City Crystal (20-2) meet in the second semifinal game.
The winners of Tuesday’s games return to Springport to meet for the regional crown on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.