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10 Flint-area high school basketball games to watch in 2020

MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City logo MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City 1/2/2020 By Brendan Savage, mlive.com
a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Fans watch on as Beecher sophomore guard Carmelo Harris shoots a free throw during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Fans watch on as Beecher sophomore guard Carmelo Harris shoots a free throw during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

FLINT -- It wasn’t easy picking the top 10 games on the Flint-area basketball schedule in 2020, especially since we didn’t separate the boys and the girls.

That meant some great potential match-ups and top teams were left off our list.

Some top teams such as Byron and Hamady on the girls side didn’t make the cut because -- to be totally honest -- we don’t see either being challenged very often this season. Don’t be surprised if Byron finishes the regular season 20-0. (How’s that for pressure, Eagles fans?)

a basketball player jumping up to catch a ball: Beecher senior forward Earnest Sanders snags a rebound in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Beecher senior forward Earnest Sanders snags a rebound in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

The list is heavy on the boys side but there are some awfully good games coming up, so many that we had to leave a few off the list to get it down to 10.

Disagree with our list? Feel free to give us your top games in the comments section.

a group of basketball players in the middle of a crowd: Beecher senior point guard Jalen Terry attempts a three-pointer with a tight defensive effort by Carman-Ainsworth junior guard Jayden Nunn in the second half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Beecher senior point guard Jalen Terry attempts a three-pointer with a tight defensive effort by Carman-Ainsworth junior guard Jayden Nunn in the second half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Until then, here’s our top 10:

Beecher at Benton Harbor

Two of the best boys teams in the state also feature some of the best players Michigan has to offer and they’ll be on display Saturday Jan. 4.

Beecher (3-1) is led by its Big Three of Jalen Terry, Earnest Sanders and Keyon Menifield. Terry, one of the top recruits in the class of 2020, was first-team All-State last year along with Sanders -- both are seniors -- and Menifield is a junior in his third year on the varsity.

a basketball player with a football ball: Carman-Ainsworth sophomore guard Mehki Ellison sticks his tongue out as he drives toward the basket past Beecher junior point guard Keyon Menefield in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Carman-Ainsworth sophomore guard Mehki Ellison sticks his tongue out as he drives toward the basket past Beecher junior point guard Keyon Menefield in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Benton Harbor’s 6-foot-6 senior Carlos Johnson, a Butler commit, led his team to a 2018 state championship, averaged 30.4 points last season and is one of the top contenders for this year’s Mr. Basketball Award.

Benton Harbor is 5-0.

Carman-Ainsworth vs. Clarkston

This will be one of the top games on a schedule loaded with good ones Saturday Jan. 4 in the GottaGetIt Classic at Grand Blanc.

Seven-footer Matt Nicholson of Clarkston will likely present a problem for the Cavaliers, who don’t have a big man to match up with him. The Northwestern commit averaged 13.6 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.2 blocks last season.

a man playing a game of basketball: Carman-Ainsworth sophomore guard Isaiah Jones soars toward the basket for a layup in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Carman-Ainsworth sophomore guard Isaiah Jones soars toward the basket for a layup in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Nicholson is obviously the Wolves’ inside threat while sophomore Fletcher Loyer, younger brother of 2018 Mr. Basketball Foster Loyer, is an outstanding shooter who is their biggest outside threat. Clarkston is 2-1 after losing to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

a group of people playing a game of basketball: Beecher sophomore guard Carmelo Harris shoots a heavily-defended three-point attempt in the second half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Beecher sophomore guard Carmelo Harris shoots a heavily-defended three-point attempt in the second half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Carman-Ainsworth’s strength is its depth.

Led by junior point guard Jayden Nunn, the Cavaliers have a deep lineup that includes sophomores Isaiah Jones and Mehki Ellison, juniors Patrick Hollis and Jason Green, and senior Dallas Green. The Cavs are off to a 4-1 start after suffering their only loss to Beecher (60-55).

The teams met in the 2018 Class A quarterfinals, when Clarkston won en route to its second straight state title.

Grand Blanc vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

THis is another dandy on the GottaGetIt docket. It will be the finale of a six-game schedule and tipoff is scheduled for 8:45 p.m.

Both teams should enter the state tournament as contenders to win the Division 1 championship. In fact, one website has St. Mary’s ranked No. 1 in all classes while Grand Blanc is No. 5.

a group of men playing a game of football: Beecher junior point guard Keyon Menefield leaps up with a fadeaway jump shot in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Beecher junior point guard Keyon Menefield leaps up with a fadeaway jump shot in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Grand Blanc has a strong lineup led by sophomore sensation Ty Rodgers, seniors Mark Miller and Kevin-David Rice, and freshman point guard R.J. Taylor.

a group of people playing a game of basketball: Beecher senior power forward JayVarion Peters looks on after loosing the battle under the rim for a rebound to Carman-Ainsworth sophomore guard Isaiah Jones in the second half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Beecher senior power forward JayVarion Peters looks on after loosing the battle under the rim for a rebound to Carman-Ainsworth sophomore guard Isaiah Jones in the second half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Lorne Bowman of Orchard Lake is an early Mr. Basketball candidate and junior Julian Roper is a top 20 player according to one publication.

Saginaw Heritage at Carman-Ainsworth

a group of young men playing a game of basketball: Beecher senior forward Earnest Sanders eyes the basket as he jukes around Carman-Ainsworth defenders  Isaiah Jones (50) and Darrell Scroggins (3) for a successful layup in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55. © Jake May/Jake May | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Beecher senior forward Earnest Sanders eyes the basket as he jukes around Carman-Ainsworth defenders Isaiah Jones (50) and Darrell Scroggins (3) for a successful layup in the first half during the second annual Steve Schmidt Roundball Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Ballenger Field House at Mott Community College in Flint. Beecher defeated Carman-Ainsworth 60-55.

Carman-Ainsworth’s girls have quickly established itself as the best team in the Flint area with six wins to open the season. The Cavaliers have one of the state’s top players in Illinois recruit Aaliyah McQueen and her supporting cast includes Chanelle King, Jessiana Aaron and Arie Lewis.

All are seniors who are loaded with experience.

Heritage is the measuring stick for the state’s best teams and will give Carman-Ainsworth a good idea of where the Cavs are at when they meet Jan. 7.

The Hawks have won two straight state championships and even though they lost 2019 Miss Basketball Moira Joiner to Michigan State, 6-1 Keyonie Champion and fellow senior Lolo Reed are back for another season with Heritage.

Heritage is 4-1 after suffering its only loss to unbeaten Hartland.

Goodrich at Carman-Ainsworth

Goodrich’s boys are loaded with experience and have high hopes this season with a talented group led by two juniors, point guard Tyson Davis and 6-6 forward Aidan Rubio.

The Martians have won their first four games but just how good are they? Facing Carman-Ainsworth Jan. 21 should answer that question regardless of the outcome.

Both teams play an exciting up-tempo style so this one should be lots of fun to watch.

Goodrich at Linden

The expanded Flint Metro League won’t have a boys championship game like it did in football but with apologies to Clio, this one on Jan. 28 could be as close as it gets.

Linden is the defending league champion and has a strong returning corps led by two-time All-Metro guard Blake Lund, one of the top players in the Flint area. Davis is perhaps the most dynamic player in the area who doesn’t wear one of Beecher’s red and white jerseys.

Linden is off a 3-1 start with its only loss being 50-48 last weekend to Bridgeport, which is 5-0 and reached the state quarterfinals in 2018 before posting a 22-1 record last season.

Goodrich is 4-0.

Carman-Ainsworth at Grand Blanc

If this one on Jan. 31 is anything like the teams’ first meeting, a game that was called off at halftime because of a gun incident, expect a barn-burner.

Carman-Ainsworth and Grand Blanc are two of the area’s top teams and they showed it Dec. 13 before the game was postponed at halftime with Carman-Ainsworth leading 37-35. (No makeup date has been finalized yet but all indications are the game will resume at the start of the second half.)

Too bad they can’t move this one to the Dort Federal Event Center because they might be able to sell 4,000 tickets.

Flushing at Goodrich girls

Goodrich is looking like the Metro League’s top girls team after beating Kearsley 54-46 last week. The Martians are 3-2 but their two losses were against Byron – which could be a Division 3 state championship contender – and local powerhouse Carman-Ainsworth.

Senior Maddie Voelker, the two-time Flint-area Player of the Year, is off to a blazing start after scoring a total of 59 points in her last two games and the Martians have a strong supporting cast that includes senior point guard Raegan Lauinger, 6-1 senior Jessica Velazquez, senior Olivia O’Brien and juniors Emily Bescoe and Alissa Gauthier.

Flushing is always one of the top teams and will be more formidable when 6-5 senior Becca Morrish returns to the lineup after dislocating her shoulder Dec. 13. She is hoping to return Monday vs. Powers Catholic.

Junior Alex Long is one of the area’s best outside threats for the Raiders, who are 2-2 after losing to Carman-Ainsworth and Kearsley by a total of 10 points.

This one is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Detroit Renaissance at Carman-Ainsworth

Renaissance’s girls are coming off a 13-7 season that saw the Phoenix lose in their district opener but that setback came against eventual Division 1 state finalist Southfield A&T.

Led by junior Kailee Davis, the young Phoenix are off to a 6-1 after winning their first six games before losing 65-50 to Chicago Simeon in the Motor City Roundball Classic.

Renaissance beat Kearsley 69-28 and Kearsley lost 57-51 to Carman-Ainsworth, so this Feb. 19 test should be the Cavs’ best test of the young season.

Grand Blanc at Beecher

Talk about a great matchup to end the regular season March 3 and prepare both teams for the state tournament.

We’ve already documented what makes both of these teams special so it goes without saying this is going to be a great game.

But both teams should have a little added incentive.

Beecher coach Mike Williams is not only a Grand Blanc graduate but his players thrive on getting a chance to play in front of a packed house against a larger school.

This game fits both criteria as Grand Blanc is the largest school in the Flint area with 2,721 students compared to 224 for Beecher, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association website.

March Madness will begin one week early thanks to this game.

MORE:

10 boys basketball teams to watch in the Flint area this season

10 girls teams, players to watch in the Flint area this season

Chaos erupts at Flint basketball game when fan is spotted with gun

Jalen Terry has narrowed list of colleges to three

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