By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The first full week of January means changing lanes for the high school boys basketball season, with many of the mega nonleague matchups in the rear-view mirror and league championship chases up ahead.
But first we have a few weeks of catching up to do after another highlight-filled holiday break showed us a few more contenders to keep an eye on as we settle into the local portion of our annual winter hoops run.
Breslin Bound is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. To offer corrections or fill in scores we’re missing, email me at Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Canton 64, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 57 – The Winter Jam at Lawrence Tech was filled with great matchups, but Canton’s win over the reigning Class B runner-up – GRCC’s lone defeat – was the most impressive.
2. Benton Harbor 79, Saginaw 70 – These two are MHSAA championship contenders most seasons, and the Tigers moved to 10-0 with this win at Grand Blanc’s GottaGetIt Classic as they continue to build on last year’s Class B title.
3. Flint Beecher 57, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 50 – The Division 3 Bucs are up to 8-0 this winter after winning a rare matchup with this one of their Division 1 neighbors.
4. Detroit Martin Luther King 45, Kalamazoo Central 43 – The Crusaders came up with arguably their best win of a great start by handing the Maroon Giants their lone defeat during Friday’s Muskegon Classic.
5. Muskegon 55, East Kentwood 53 – The Big Reds are 3-2 while playing another tough early slate, and this win over the Falcons at the Hall of Fame Classic has been the highlight.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
• Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (7-1) – The Rockets are climbing after finishing 10-12 and tying for fifth in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black a year ago and winning just three games total in 2016-17. Annual league favorite Muskegon awaits, of course. But Reeths-Puffer has looked up to the task so far with wins over Ludington and Holland West Ottawa and the only defeat by five Dec. 7 to one-loss Zeeland West.
• Saginaw Heritage (5-1) – Since opening with a loss to still-undefeated Sanford Meridian, the Hawks also are perfect – and compared to a 3-4 start last season. They started the new year with a 64-53 win over Frankenmuth as they seek to build on last season’s 14-7 finish.
• Flat Rock (7-1) – Just 6-15 two seasons ago, Flat Rock improved to 18-6 and second in the Huron League last winter and last week edged Grosse Ile 42-40 after splitting with the Red Devils in 2017-18. Flat Rock’s only loss this season came by four Dec. 11 to Temperance Bedford. On Friday, the Rams get the first of two opportunities against reigning league champ Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central after being swept by the Falcons last season.
• Holland Christian (6-0) – The Maroons jumped 10 wins last season to finish 14-8 and second in the O-K Green, and might be starting on another leap. Holland Christian handed Maple City Glen Lake its only loss this season, 48-44 on Dec. 28 at the Lakeshore Cup at Grand Haven, and then downed Petoskey 66-59 the next day. Up next is reigning O-K Green champ Hudsonville Unity Christian, which defeated the Maroons three times last season.
• Kalamazoo Hackett (6-1) – The Irish bounced back from their only loss, to Division 1 Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, by handing Schoolcraft a 72-56 defeat Dec. 18. That win has Hackett just ahead of Schoolcraft in first place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley standings after the Irish finished second to Kalamazoo Christian (and 18-4 overall) a year ago.
• North Muskegon (7-0) – The Norsemen’s encore to last winter’s 20-4 finish has been perfect, including handing Ravenna the latter’s only defeat, 61-51 on Dec. 21. That victory has North Muskegon one win ahead of the Bulldogs in the West Michigan Conference, and no other opponent has come closer than 14 points.
• Athens (8-0) – After going 16-5 last season, Athens has big games this week against Jackson Christian and Battle Creek St. Philip (both 5-3) as it goes for a perfect first half. Union City gave the Indians their closest game Dec. 20, an eight-point win, and Athens came up big in December against Hillsdale Academy – which, although struggling, was a Class D semifinalist a year ago.
• Camden-Frontier (9-0) – The Redskins have the early lead in the Southern Central Athletic Association East after finishing second to Hillsdale Academy last winter, and doubled up the Colts in their Dec. 13 meeting. Camden-Frontier also repeated as the Pat Paterson Holiday Tournament champion with double-digit wins over Hillsdale and Reading to get halfway to besting last year’s 17 wins.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Novi (3-3) at Canton (5-1) – Novi beat Canton by five in last season’s Kensington Lakes Activities Association semifinals and then by two when they met again in a District Semifinal; they were the Chiefs’ only defeats of the season.
Tuesday – Macomb Dakota (6-1) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (6-1) – These two are tied for first in the Macomb Area Conference Red after Dakota edged Stevenson for the title by a win a year ago.
Thursday – Bellevue (6-0) at Camden-Frontier (9-0) – Both lead or are tied for the lead in their respective divisions of the SCAA, plus might end up among the top-ranked in all of Division 4.
Friday – Frankenmuth (4-3) at Bridgeport (7-0) – The same may not end up true this winter, but a year ago Bridgeport’s sweep of Frankenmuth gave the Bearcats the Tri-Valley Conference East title ahead of the runner-up Eagles.
Saturday – Grand Blanc (7-2) at Kalamazoo Central (5-1) – Coming off a key league matchup with Davison on Friday, Grand Blanc heads west to see another statewide Division 1 contender in Central.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Flint Beecher’s Earnest Sanders works for post position during his team’s win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Dec. 27. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)