MARQUETTE - Negaunee will face its toughest test of the season in the MHSAA Class C state semifinals on Thursday afternoon at Michigan State University.
Detroit Consortium finished the regular season as the No. 2 team in the state Associated Press Class C poll, just one spot ahead of Negaunee.
But the Cougars have faced a rugged schedule, playing four of the top 10 teams from Class A and beating three of them - No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, No. 6 Romulus and No. 7 Detroit Southeastern.
One of their two losses was to Class A No. 2-ranked Detroit Pershing, while the other was to Class B No. 9-ranked Detroit Country Day.
Most recently, Consortium - officially Detroit Consortium College Preparatory School - defeated Class C's top-ranked team, Mount Clemens, 67-60 in the MHSAA quarterfinals Tuesday night in West Bloomfield.
Consortium, which plays as an independent, rolled up a 23-2 record by also beating three other honorable mention teams from Class A, the No. 14 team in Class B and No. 5 in Class C, Detroit Allen Academy, in the regionals last week.
Surprisingly, the team revolves around a sophomore star, Joshua Jackson, a lanky 6-foot-8 guard-forward who is listed as the No. 2 prospect in the country for the class of 2016 by ESPN.com.
"We haven't seen much on them (Consortium)," Negaunee senior Tyler Jandron said in Petoskey. "Once you're down here, every team is good. Josh Jackson is a great player, but one player can't do it all himself, it's tough. With our team playing the way we're playing I think we have a chance. We just have to continue to play hard and play tough, that's why we're here."
Last season as a freshman, Jackson earned second-team all-state honors and All-American status from the MaxPreps website. He played on the USA Basketball Under-16 national team that won a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Uruguay last summer, according to several metro-Detroit-focused high school basketball websites.
He has reportedly already been offered scholarships by a half-dozen major Division I programs.
On Tuesday, Jackson was forced from the game after being called for his fourth foul early in the final quarter. Mount Clemens took advantage by going on a 9-0 run to cut its deficit to two, 52-50, with 5:35 left, according to mlive.com.
Jackson re-entered soon after and scored seven points down the stretch, finishing with 31 along with 12 rebounds. Included were a pair of off-the-backboard passes that Jackson converted into slam dunks.
Other top Cougar players listed in online reports were 5-9 senior point guard Ronald Booth, who scored 11 points Tuesday, and 6-foot sophomore guard Luster Johnson, an inside slasher.
First-year coach Tobias Tuomi took over after a fatal heart attack struck down its former coach, Al Anderson, at age 40 in the middle of last season.
Last year, Consortium lost to eventual Class C state champion Flint Beecher in the quarterfinals, 46-44. This year, Beecher was eliminated by Pewamo-Westphalia, 42-41, in another Tuesday quarterfinal.
Editor's note: Steve Foley of the Petoskey News-Review contributed to this report.