Sterling Heights Stevenson guard Ayhem Hanna drives past a Roseville High defender during a Jan. 11 matchup. The Titans have won division titles in three of the last five seasons.

Sterling Heights Stevenson guard Ayhem Hanna drives past a Roseville High defender during a Jan. 11 matchup. The Titans have won division titles in three of the last five seasons.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Stevenson boys hoops captures share of MAC Red title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 8, 2019

 Sterling Heights Stevenson guard Brian Ross (2) goes airborne for the ball in a Jan. 11 matchup with Roseville High. The Titans bested Roseville Feb. 4 to clinch a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title.

Sterling Heights Stevenson guard Brian Ross (2) goes airborne for the ball in a Jan. 11 matchup with Roseville High. The Titans bested Roseville Feb. 4 to clinch a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

STERLING HEIGHTS — The end of the divisional portion of the schedule was a busy one for the Sterling Heights Stevenson boys basketball team.

Stevenson’s final two Macomb Area Conference Red Division games featured matchups against Macomb Dakota and Roseville High. The Titans needed to win both for a share of the Red Division title.

Stevenson took care of business in the two key matchups, besting Dakota 61-53 and knocking off Roseville 54-45 to finish at 8-2 in MAC Red play and claim a share of the division title with Roseville. The Titans, 12-3 at press time, avenged earlier losses to both the Cougars and the Panthers.

“This feels great. We knew that after the first half of league play, we had to win out to get a share of the MAC Red title,” Stevenson coach Mark LaCombe said. “I am very proud of our players and coaches for what we have accomplished. At the end of the day, this was one of our many goals for this year, and to reach that goal is something to be proud of.”

The co-champs ended a four-year run by Dakota. Stevenson finished second in the MAC Red last season and third in 2017. 

In 2016, the Titans won the MAC White on their way to the state quarterfinals. Stevenson also won the MAC White in 2015.

LaCombe said this team is different from past division winners. He said this particular group has the best chemistry of any team he’s been around.

“My assistants — Mark Sulek and John Sheehan — have played a huge role in that. Coach Sheehan holds his ‘Sheehan Special’ at the end of practice sessions that are fun competitions for the kids that really rally us all together. 

“Our players work hard, like everyone else, but they also love being at practice. This team shares the ball as well as any, and they are so unselfish on offense. We are also playing really good team defense right now. We really work to contest everything.”

Stevenson has allowed 48.8 points per game — good for third in the 35-team MAC. 

Leading the way for the Titans over the latter part of the divisional slate has been a quartet of seniors: guard Brandon Michrina, forwards Nate Nemens and Kyle Jackson, and center Ethan Peck.

The division title is just one goal the Titans set this season. Stevenson also wants postseason success.

The Titans will play in a Division 1 district beginning Feb. 25, hosted by Utica Ford II. Stevenson and Ford received byes through the quarterfinals and meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in a district semifinal matchup. The other half of the bracket includes Troy Athens, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Sterling Heights High. 

The Stallions open with the winner of an Athens/Chippewa Valley matchup in a semifinal set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27. The final tips at 7 p.m. March 1.

“How we prepare over the next few weeks will decide how things shake out,” LaCombe said. “I would be lying if I said a trip to the Breslin Center isn’t something that comes up with the guys, but it’s all about preparing at a high level and making plays when they count.”