By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As a general rule, basketball teams evolve plenty between the first games of December through the final regular-season contests in February.
But these pre-break matchups matter just as much in the win-loss columns. And a number of games are being played right now that will surely make a difference as this season draws to a close.
This week's report includes some of the teams that have came out on the winning ends of key December battles. (Results and records based on those reported to Score Center at MHSAA.com)
1. Inkster (4-0) – The Vikings are a regular at Breslin Center and made the Class A Semifinals last season, so another great start is hardly surprising. But it's proof why Inkster remains a force – last week’s wins were 51-45 over improved Detroit Mumford and 57-51 over always-powerful Detroit Pershing.
2. Waterford Our Lady (3-1) – The reigning Class D champion has bounced back quickly from an opening-night loss to West Bloomfield. Last week, Our Lady beat Livonia Ladywood 50-38 and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart by the same score.
3. Detroit Martin Luther King (3-0) – This is another team always in the Class A mix, and it got a big win Saturday – 56-48 over returning Class A Semifinalist Ann Arbor Huron, which earlier in the week had defeated Detroit Country Day 65-58. King also beat Detroit East English 61-7.
4. Johannesburg-Lewiston (5-0) – The Cardinals lost only two regular-season games last season, both times to Ski Valley Conference rival Gaylord St. Mary. But they got a little bit of revenge last week with a 50-48 win over St. Mary after also beating East Jordan 57-43.
5. Holt (5-0) – The Rams are again setting up nicely to contend in the strong Capital Area Activities Conference Blue. They beat nonleague foe St. Johns 52-48 and then Lansing Everett 48-39 to keep early pace with other frontrunners Grand Ledge and East Lansing.
6. Napoleon (5-1) – Napoleon’s 15-7 finish in 2011-12 included splits against Michigan Center and Grass Lake. The Pirates got an early upper hand on both last week, beating Michigan Center 49-45 and Grass Lake 47-42.
7. Traverse City St. Francis (4-1) – The Gladiators opened last season 14-1, with that lone loss to Cadillac – which they beat last week 55-50. St. Francis also defeated Kalkaska 44-36 on Friday.
8. Pewamo-Westphalia (3-2) – The Pirates got off to a rough start with opening-week losses to Class B Williamston and Lakewood. But back in familiar territory in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, they've won three straight – including 51-42 last week over returning Class D Semifinalist Portland St. Patrick.
9. North Farmington (3-1) – The Raiders are coming off a 10-12 season that included a pair of losses to Pontiac. But North Farmington earned the early edge this time with a 59-58 win over Pontiac, followed by a 58-48 win over West Bloomfield.
10. Powers North Central (5-1) – After opening with a 13-point loss to returning Class D Semifinalist Crystal Falls Forest Park, North Central hasn't fallen again. The Jets beat Stephenson 62-51 and Munising 50-22 to get nearly halfway to last season’s win total of 11.
PHOTO: Big Rapids Crossroads (in red) defeated Baldwin on Thursday to move to 4-0 this season. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)