Posted On: 02/14/18 12:00 PM
Unbeknownst to most, a few hundred homeschooled students throughout Michigan enjoy competitive basketball at the high school level each winter. While there is not often elite-level talent in the league, there are certainly college-level players and many are surprised to learn of the caliber of talent that does exist. As is the case for most teams this time of year, the homeschool postseason is soon to begin. This weekend, teams will converge at Morey Courts, a fieldhouse in Mt. Pleasant, to compete for a chance to be the best homeschool team in the state. Below, we explore some of the top competitors and what they may offer this weekend.
#1 – Hoop Heaven Homeschool – Grand Rapids
Led by PHMI’s class of ’19 #11 Luke Maranka, the Angels enter the tournament ranked first out of 18. They have had quite a successful season, losing only twice in-state and only once to another Michigan homeschool team. Maranka (6’8) offers a height advantage in almost every contest and is a versatile player. He can score in the post, using his length to either finish or get on the line (72% FT). He also is a respectable outside shooter, shooting 30% from beyond the arc. Around him are a number of guards who can contribute in different ways. Sophomore Shawn Coad (6′) is an athlete with major bounce who passes well and can score at the rim and outside. Another sophomore, Jared Endsley, is a pass-first PG, but can also score efficiently (1.5 points per shot). Others contribute with outside shooting and slashing to the rim.
#2 – Capital Homeschool Athletic Program (CHAP) – Lansing
Perennially a powerhouse, CHAP is the reigning homeschool champion after a decisive win in last year’s finals. This year has been another successful one; however, dropping two games to Hoop Heaven places them in a undisputed second. They graduated three starters who were all heavy contributors in the backcourt but return a number of players who got some minutes last year and have stepped up to take their place. A guard-heavy team, CHAP wins by playing aggressive defense, taking advantage of the fast break, and hitting outside shots. They play great with momentum, sometimes struggling without it but always looking to capitalize on it when it’s there. They balance this by being disciplined and keeping the game slow and controlled when the time is right. Notable names include a 6’1 SF in Elijah Nightengale who finishes well inside. Others are Jeremiah Cleland, Noah Menzel, and Wyatt Braatz who are able to connect from deep.
#3 – Hudsonville Homeschool – Hudsonville
A team full of seniors, the Hornets are looking to avenge last year’s loss to CHAP and make one last run to the finals. Their season has been a bit spotty, beating both CHAP and Hoop Heaven once but losing to Hoop Heaven once and CHAP twice. Their record has taken blows from other homeschool opponents, but the wins against both teams ranked above them place them in the third spot. They are fairly balanced in scoring with a few players at each position who can contribute. Gabriel Farrell is a 6’6 PF who can dominate in the post when he has a height advantage and averages a double-double (13.6 pts, 10 rebs). Other scoring contributions come from a number of SGs who shoot 30% or better from outside and can really hurt opponents when one or more of them get hot.
#4 – Christ the King – Ann Arbor
The Jaguars are another team who enter the tournament this year looking to avenge losses and win it all. They’ve lost to each of the above teams once or twice but made it narrow in four of the five contests, proving themselves to be competitive. Similar to CHAP, they are guard-heavy and like to run and play aggressive defense. They can be dangerous from the three if left open and also have a few guys who penetrate to finish or pass the ball out. Senior Miles White is a quick, pass-first PG who looks to drive and distribute to open shooters. Junior Maximilian Ehinger is a combo guard who has had a number of 20+ point performances and can score from anywhere on the floor.
The tournament has an 18-team bracket. Two play-in games will take place midday on Friday, and the first round begins Friday evening. On Saturday, the teams that have advanced will play midday in the quarterfinals, and the semifinals will take place Saturday night. The winners of these two games will have two weeks to prepare for the finals at Carson City-Crystal High School on March 3rd.
Upsets are possible, but it is likely these four will play in the semifinals. If so, Hoop Heaven would face Christ the King and CHAP would face Hudsonville. Christ the King lost twice to Hoop Heaven in the regular season, but both losses were within ten points. They will definitely be playing for revenge, and, if they are having a great night, could pose a threat. However, Hoop Heaven has been playing very well lately, beating both CHAP and Hudsonville earlier this month. They are the favorites to take this contest, and I predict them winning, though it could be close. On the other side of the bracket, CHAP has an advantage, having won two of three regular season meetings with Hudsonville. Both teams play well when the momentum is in their favor, so this game may be decided by who starts out better and can maintain their level of play. In any case, this matchup could be an emotional dog-fight given the history these teams share.