Boys basketball district finals tip off tonight

Tonight is an exciting time to be a Northeast Michigan high school basketball fan.

There are five local teams vying for district championships today including Alpena who is going for its first championship since 2008 against Marquette in Marquette at 7 p.m.

Alpena (18-4) has had a very strong year playing against some tough competition and will be aiming for its 11th straight win.

“The good thing about this team is that we have a variety of different guys on the team that play in different ways. Kids like Luke Cordes, Tyler (Pintar), Kam (Fitzek) and Andy (Marwede) can score double figures at any point. We’ll have to throw a variety of different offenses and defenses at them to keep them off guard,” Alpena coach John Pintar said.

Marquette (18-3) is a tough team with a lot of height. Players like Mark Pap, A.J. Grazulis, Larry Burnette and Andy Nyquist are all capable of double figures.

Other games tonight include Tawas at Alcona in a class C district championship at 7 p.m., Mio hosting Au Gres in a Class D title game at 7 p.m. and North Star League rivals Hillman and Posen squaring off in Rogers City at 7 p.m for a Class D title.

Alcona has seen some struggles this season, but the Tigers have coalesed well in the playoffs with an upset victory over Mancelona and a victory over Oscoda this week. They’ll be aiming for a third straight district crown.

Tawas and Alcona have had several heated games this year and the two teams recently met at Alcona to decide the Huron Shores Conference title, a game that Tawas won.

Alcona has a strong roster centered around the fast play of Jared Steiner. However, players like Trent Lavergne, Aaron Ritchie and Carson Jamieson have the skills and defensive prowess needed to win.

Posen (10-9) has lost to Hillman (15-5) twice this year but Posen has been on a roll the last few games, beating a tough Onaway team 72-67 in the district semifinals on Wednesday.

Posen coach Steve Hentkowski has lead his Vikings to five district championships and will be aiming for a third straight district title.

“Hillman’s a really well coached team that plays very well together and very quickly. We’re gonna have to play great offense as a team and limit Hillman to one possession per drive,” Hentkowski said.

Nick Hincka is always a top scorer for Posen, while teammate Martin Mulka has turned into an important offensive key with a career high 25-points against Onaway.

Hillman players like Mason VanPamel and Ty Jones may lead the team in scoring, Hillman also boasts a lot of depth.

“Hunter Fessler’s done a really good job opening up offense with good defense. Same with Mike Olschanski and Dylan Ross as rebounders. Posen has a tradition of winning the district which we respect and we have our eye on them,” Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said.

Mio (19-1) is aiming to win its first district title in five years and has a chance to do so on its home floor. The Thunderbolts have already beaten Au Gres handily twice this season.

“You know it’s tournament down and and everybody has something up their sleeves. The seniors are going to be playing harder to stay alive. If we play defensively like we’ve played all year, we should be victorious,” Mio head coach Dennis Kahn said.