By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This week, Michigan’s high school boys basketball teams will begin focusing most of their energies on winning league championships and doing their best against competition closest to home.
But before we dive in to that always-intense chapter of each season, our Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – reviews the best from two weeks of holiday break, including matchups of some expected MHSAA title contenders in Class A and B.
Week in Review
The countdown of holiday break's five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 69, Macomb Dakota 61 – Dakota was missing a standout and lost another near the end of this one, but regardless this rematch of last season’s Class A Semifinal finished with the Cubs on top while sandwiched between their overtime losses to Flint Beecher and Indianapolis Lawrence North (Ind.).
2. North Farmington 53, Detroit Henry Ford 49 – The Raiders bounced back from three losses to open this season, including a 65-58 defeat to Farmington, to beat Dearborn Divine Child and then the Class B reigning champ at the Motor City Roundball Classic.
3. McBain 73, Boyne City 62 – In a matchup of expected Class C contenders from the northern Lower Peninsula, McBain emerged with a fourth double-digit win in four tries this winter while handing Boyne City its first loss.
4. Wyoming Godwin Heights 69, Wayland 67 – They are in different Districts this season after meeting in the first round a year ago, and both could emerge as Class B contenders after meeting in this Cornerstone Invitational title game.
5. Frankfort 72, Traverse City St. Francis 65 – The Panthers avenged one of only two regular-season losses from last season, when they fell to St. Francis 69-68.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Detroit East English (5-0) – The Bulldogs may have graduated a Mr. Basketball finalist off last season’s 17-win team, but they likely have another and could finish even better this winter with wins so far over Flint Beecher, Macomb Dakota and most recently Wayne Memorial 92-77.
Battle Creek Central (5-1) – That lone loss came early to Kalamazoo Central, and Battle Creek Central has stormed back with the latest a sweep at its holiday tournament, 60-50 over Otsego and 61-46 over Muskegon Heights Academy.
St. Clair (5-0) – The Saints, winners of 12 and 14 games, respectively, over the last two seasons, downed St. Clair Shores Lakeview 54-53 in overtime and then host Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 58-57 at the latter’s holiday tournament to finish off 2016.
Wyoming Lee (5-0) – A 3-17 finisher just last season, Lee is in the midst of a sizable turnaround highlighted over the break by wins over Gobles (in overtime) and host Allegan to win the Tigers’ holiday tournament.
Harbor Springs (3-0) – After also going only 3-17 a year ago, Harbor Springs has equaled that win total while handing the only losses this season to Bellaire (40-37) and Pickford (67-65).
Michigan Center (6-0) – The Cardinals will embark next on at least matching last season’s shared title in the Cascades Conference, and will do so after dominating Williamston’s holiday event with wins over Dansville (66-47) and Class A DeWitt (86-75).
Bark River-Harris (4-0) – Eventually, the Broncos will get to test themselves against Powers North Central (Jan. 27) in the Skyline Central Conference West. So far, they look good to top last season’s 10-11 finish.
Frankfort (3-0) – Expectations are high as always coming off a second straight Northwest Conference title and fourth straight season with 20 or more wins – and so far so good; see note above on avenging last season’s loss to Traverse City St. Francis.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Clarkston (5-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (6-0) – The Wolves have earned a reputation as Class A contender with another strong start, and Carman-Ainsworth could cement that status as well with a win.
Tuesday – Maple City Glen Lake (3-0) at Elk Rapids (5-0) – In addition to both being undefeated this week, Glen Lake beat Elk Rapids twice last season including in the District.
Friday – Beaverton (4-1) at Clare (3-1) – Although both have a loss, both also are undefeated in early Jack Pine Conference play; Beaverton’s only defeat was in its last game, to Class A Midland Dow by two.
Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (4-2) at Romulus (2-1) – Another week, another impressive foe lined up for reigning Class A champion Jesuit; Romulus’ lone loss was by six to Clarkston.
Friday – Holt (3-2) at Okemos (3-1) – This longtime rivalry means something again, as both are seeking to rise in a Capital Area Activities Conference Blue that also features East Lansing, Lansing Everett and Jackson.
PHOTO: Muskegon pushes the ball upcourt during a 68-45 win over East Kentwood during the Muskegon Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 28 at Reeths-Puffer High School. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)