PREVIEW: Marshall Battles Country Day in Semifinal

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Listen live Friday evening on Michigan Sports Radio to the first Class B MHSAA girls basketball state semifinal between the Marshall Redhawks and Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets.   The game is set for 6 p.m. from the Breslin Center at Michigan State University with the winner advancing to the championship Saturday at 6 p.m.

Marshall is the defending class B champion and sits at 23-2 overall.  Their 2017 postseason has mirrored their 2016 run to this point, defeating the same five teams to start; Comstock, Harper Creek, Lakeshore, Otsego, and Grand Rapids Catholic Central.  Tuesday’s 49-27 over GRCC avenged one of their two regular season losses.

For Country Day, they’re 24-1 overall with postseason victories over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Macomb Lutheran North, Clawson, Croswell-Lexington, Goodrich, and Detroit Mumford.  No girls basketball coach in Michigan has seen more success than Frank Orlando, who has a state-record 760 victories and 11 championships since taking over the program in 1981.   The Yellowjackets fell to Grand Rapids South Christian in the semifinals last season.  Two seasons ago, they claimed their most recent title.

Both teams have an average margin-of-victory around 28 points per game, although they’ve taken different paths to get there.   Country Day’s offense is averaging a stellar 68.1 points per game while allowing 40.2.   Marshall’s defense is holding teams to 30.5 per contest, while scoring 58.1 on average.    The Redhawk offense is led by first-team all state senior Nikki Tucker, averaging 15.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.    Country Day has two first-team all state players, led by the Class B player-of-the-year in senior Destiny Pitts and her 22.7 points per game.  The other, junior Kaela Webb, scores 14.6 per game.

Listen to the semifinal contest live on Michigan Sports Radio with tip off scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.   The winner plays in the championship Saturday at 6 p.m. against Freeland or Arbor Prep, who meet in their semifinal at 7:50 p.m. Friday.   Both squads enter their semi at 26-0.  Arbor Prep is the defending Class C state champion, while Freeland is looking for their first ever title, having made it to the final once in 1998.

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