By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The girls basketball holiday break over the last three weeks featured some shaking up among the usual powers in Flint, Midland and Detroit.
It will be especially intriguing to see if that early re-ordering was a sign of things to come as the first full week of 2018 is loaded with opportunities for recent risers to take over top spots.
Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. To offer corrections, email me at Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Beecher 52, Flint Hamady 39 – The Buccaneers had seen the last four seasons end against Class C power Hamady, having suffered three losses to the Hawks in 2016-17 alone.
2. Midland 49, Midland Dow 37 – Dow had owned this rivalry with seven straight wins over the last three seasons.
3. Detroit Edison Public School Academy 70, Detroit Martin Luther King 42 – The reigning Class C champion is considered perhaps the best team in the state regardless of class, and downing the Class A Crusaders helped that argument.
4. DeWitt 40, Howell 36 – This pair of Class A contenders is a combined 16-2, with this the Highlanders’ only defeat this season.
5. Jackson Northwest 66, Coldwater 64 (OT) – Both have only one loss and should be in the mix in the ultra-competitive Interstate 8 Athletic Conference race.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Ann Arbor Huron (8-1) – The River Rats are undefeated since falling to DEPSA in their season opener. They got past always-solid Grand Haven by six at the Motor City Roundball Classic and are tied for first in the Southeastern Conference Red in part because of a one-point win over Temperance Bedford (6-2). Huron won the league and made the Quarterfinals last season.
Saginaw Heritage (7-0) – The Hawks are playing for a fourth straight finish with at least 20 wins, and have allowed two opponents to get within 16 points so far this winter. Heritage handed losses to both Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Freeland (both 6-2), the two teams that have gotten the closest to matching up.
Jackson Northwest (6-1) – With the top four teams in the Interstate 8 a combined 25-3, and annual Class B power Marshall not among them, the league is stacking up as potentially one of the state’s strongest. Northwest, last season’s I8AC runner-up, has fallen this season only to also one-loss Battle Creek Harper Creek, by three.
Kalkaska (7-0) – The Blazers didn’t get their first real scare last season until suffering their first loss, in February, but survived a two-point win against Lake City to finish 2017. Coming up Friday is Traverse City St. Francis, which joined Kalkaska as last year’s Lake Michigan Conference co-champion.
Negaunee (9-0) – After finishing second to Norway in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference last season, the Miners are surging and don’t have to deal with the Knights, now in the Skyline Central Conference instead. Not that it would matter; Negaunee has won all of its games by at least 14 points, Ishpeming getting the closest in suffering its lone loss.
Pittsford (8-0) – Now in Class C, and after graduating all-state pair Maddie Clark and Jaycie Burger, Pittsford just keeps winning. The two-time reigning Class D champ has won 63 straight games, building the sixth-longest streak in MHSAA history. Only Manchester has gotten within single digits.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (7-0) – Sacred Heart, the 2014 Class D champion and 2016 runner-up, would have no problem moving into the spot Pittsford has vacated. Four wins of at least 40 points, including one against Class C Carson City-Crystal (6-2), make the Irish look geared up for a run already.
Waterford Our Lady (6-2) – The Lakers opened 1-2 with losses to reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day and runner-up Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. They’ve since rattled off five straight wins including two over Class A Bloomfield Hills and West Bloomfield.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – East Kentwood (9-0) at Caledonia (7-0) – East Kentwood beat Caledonia three times last season on the way to finishing Class A runner-up, but by only five and four during the regular-season meetings.
Tuesday – Saginaw Valley Lutheran (4-1) at Hemlock (7-0) – These two tied for second in the Tri-Valley Conference West last season but hold the top two spots early this winter.
Thursday – DEPSA (6-0) at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (6-2) – With Arbor Prep moving into Class C this school year, this could be a matchup of the two best teams in that class.
Friday – Laingsburg (5-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0) – No one has challenged the reigning Class C runner-up Pirates so far, but Laingsburg could be the first; the Wolfpack was one of only four teams to come within single digits (twice) of P-W last season.
Friday – Kalkaska (7-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-1) – See explanation for Kalkaska above for why this could be pivotal in the Lake Michigan Conference race.
PHOTO: One of Saginaw Heritage’s closest wins of a perfect start came against Freeland at the end of December. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)