By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It’s easy at this time of year, at least from a basketball point of view, to look past these next few weeks toward January, the start of league play and the most intense part of every regular season.
But not so fast. Doing so would mean missing out on more great early matchups that took place last week and some big-time contests coming up over the next two, some of which are mentioned below.
For many teams, there is little break over the end of December – and we’ll catch up again with the most notable news and notes from the last half of this month during the first week of January. These reports are based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com – to offer corrections, email me at Geoff@mhsaa.com. Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Country Day 70, Detroit Martin Luther King 58 – The reigning Class B champion Yellowjackets have won in back-to-back seasons over the Class A power Crusaders.
2. Bloomfield Hills Marian 53, Farmington Hills Mercy 46 – Round one of this annual rivalry series went to Marian, which finished second to Mercy last season in the Detroit Catholic League Central and lost to the Marlins three times by a combined 13 points.
3. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 63, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 59 – The Cavaliers moved to 5-0 by downing the reigning Class B runner-up Gators, who are in Class C this winter.
4. Williamston 62, Wayne Memorial 52 – The undefeated Hornets continue to look like one of Class B’s best after handing Class A Wayne its first defeat, and after the Zebras previously downed Country Day.
5. River Rouge 52, Southfield Arts & Technology 49 – The Panthers could be making a jump this season, and last week bounced back from a loss to Ann Arbor Huron to hand 2017 Class A semifinalist Southfield A&T this defeat.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Grand Blanc (4-2) – The Bobcats added a 42-36 win over Hartland and 41-40 victory over Flint Powers last week to a strong start after they went 9-12 last winter. Hartland last season won the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, while Grand Blanc finished fifth; both now are in the KLAA Gold.
Romeo (4-1) – The Bulldogs actually started 7-0 in 2016-17 before a loss to Port Huron Northern (17-4 last winter) ended the streak and began a 7-9 finish. Romeo has taken a loss early this time, but beat Port Huron Northern last week after falling to the Huskies by 17 and 16 a season ago.
Battle Creek Pennfield (4-0) – As noted last week, Coldwater ended Marshall’s Interstate 8 Athletic Conference winning streak at 42. Pennfield could be one of the teams on the rise in the league after defeating the Redhawks 49-40 on Friday. The Panthers tied for third in the I8AC last season.
Fowlerville (5-1) – After an opening loss to Okemos, Fowlerville has come on strong as it looks to take another step. The Gladiators have improved from four, to 13, to 15 wins the last three seasons and were one of three teams that tied for second in the Capital Area Activities Conference White last winter.
Byron (5-0) – The Eagles have won all of their games by nine or more points as they also are looking to take another step after going 16-5 last season. They beat Class B Perry by 10 last week and get Class B Chesaning this week before the break.
Schoolcraft (6-0) – Handing Bronson its first loss last week 62-61 was the initial attention getter on Schoolcraft’s schedule, but more are the come. The Eagles made the Quarterfinals last season but finished second in their league to Galesburg-Augusta – the second opponent on the schedule when things get rolling again in January.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (4-0) – The Cougars’ run so far has included a 13-point win over a reigning league co-champ in Morrice and victories over Class B Ida and most recently Class B Tecumseh. Lenawee Christian finished 15-8 last season.
Athens (6-0) – Athens had been in the mix annually as the smallest school in the otherwise Class C Big 8 Conference, and this year the Indians moved to a Southern Central Athletic Association West made up of five Class D schools. They have the upper hand early after last week’s 50-48 win over reigning league champion Bellevue.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – East Kentwood (6-0) at East Grand Rapids (4-0) – The reigning Class A runner-up Falcons have looked unstoppable, but should get their toughest challenge yet from an EGR team that went 17-4 last season.
Wednesday – Ishpeming (5-0) at Negaunee (4-0) – These two look like the best out of the gate in the Mid-Peninsula Conference and among the best in Class C in the Upper Peninsula.
Wednesday – Saginaw Heritage (4-0) at Freeland (4-1) – The only loss between the two this season was Freeland’s two-pointer to Bay City Western, and all of Heritage’s wins have been by at least 20 points.
Friday – Detroit County Day (2-1) at Midland Dow (3-0) – The Chargers have to contend with rival Midland first on Tuesday but then can see how they measure up against the reigning Class B champ.
Dec. 29 – Ann Arbor Huron (5-1) vs. Grand Haven (5-0) at Detroit Northwestern – This Motor City Roundball Classic game pits two teams that could be ranked in Class A in January.
PHOTO: A Byron player goes hard to the basket during a win over Durand. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)