By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Michigan’s high school boys basketball teams are this week reaching the regular-season’s midpoint and the heart of league play from the Ohio and Indiana borders to the top tip of the Upper Peninsula.
You’ll see that move toward emphasizing conference play reflected in much of this week’s Breslin Bound report – although it’s tough to not be most excited about another showcase coming up this weekend that will match up championship contenders from two of the MHSAA’s four divisions.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Beecher 70, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 61 – The Bucs moved up to No. 2 in Division 3 MPR with a major win over the No. 2 team in Division 2 at the Horatio Williams Freedom Classic.
2. Clarkston 55, Detroit King 41 – The Wolves also made Freedom Classic headlines with arguably their best of a solid set of wins this winter.
3. Gaylord St. Mary 59, Pellston 54 – The Snowbirds pushed back into the Ski Valley Conference mix by handing the first loss this season to Pellston.
4. Grand Blanc 80, Kalamazoo Central 73 – The Bobcats are now 9-3 against one of the toughest schedules in the state, and followed up this Friday win with another seven-point over Ferndale on Saturday.
5. Traverse City West 47, Cadillac 46 – The Titans are only 5-6 overall but could make a move in the Big North Conference after handing co-leader Cadillac its first loss this season.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Hamtramck (9-2) The Cosmos have flown a bit under the radar, but sit second in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue with an opportunity to make a loud statement. Hamtramck fell to league leader River Rouge 54-49 on Jan. 10, but a win in the rematch Tuesday arguably would be one of the program’s best in some time. The Cosmos’ only other defeat this season came to Warren De La Salle Collegiate, 65-62 in overtime Dec. 20.
Mount Pleasant (10-0) Reigning Saginaw Valley League Red champion Mount Pleasant is off to another fantastic start after winning its first 18 games last season. A 66-58 win over SVL Blue co-leader Flint Carman-Ainsworth a week ago was particularly impressive, even as the only single-digit victory surrounded by much larger margins in the Oilers’ other nine games.
Croswell-Lexington (10-1) A three point December loss to 9-1 Flint Southwestern is all that has kept Croswell-Lexington from perfection this winter – and only a few others have come close to breaking up the success. The Pioneers have nine double-digit wins and Friday against Almont can finish an unbeaten first half in the Blue Water Area Conference.
Fremont (10-0) The Packers’ 102 points last week against Howard City Tri County likely caught even casual fans’ attentions. But it was just a highlight from a greater body of work that is setting Fremont up for a run at a third straight Central State Activities Association Gold title. The Packers are perfect through the first run of the league schedule, thanks in part to a three-point win over Newaygo and four-pointer over Grant. Fremont also downed Lakes 8 Activities Conference co-leader Ludington.
Hanover-Horton (7-1) The Comets face Napoleon on Wednesday for first place in the Cascades Conference as they continue to pursue a third-straight league championship. All seven wins so far have been by 10 points or more, and the one defeat looks pretty good too – 68-66 to Division 1 one-loss Grand Rapids Union. A Feb. 10 matchup with Ypsilanti Arbor Prep could be telling of the team’s possibilities come tournament time.
Ravenna (10-0) The Bulldogs have climbed from six to 11 to 15 wins, respectively, over the last three seasons, and seem likely to continue the rise after a flawless first half. Ravenna leads the West Michigan Conference by a game over Muskegon Oakridge, which gave the Bulldogs their closest game so far – a six-point battle Jan. 16.
Alanson (8-1) Alanson improved from five wins in 2017-18 to 10 last season and could equal that latter total before the end of January. The Vikings are undefeated since falling to Bellaire 61-54 in their season opener, and they’ve hung tough in tight times with three wins by three points or fewer. That success has sent Alanson into a tie for first place in the Northern Lakes Conference with Ellsworth, which hosts the Vikings on Friday.
Hillsdale Academy (8-1) After playing in the 2018 Class D Semifinals but falling back to 9-13 last season, the Colts rank No. 5 in Division 4 MPR and sit tied for first in the Southern Central Athletic Association East despite losing Dec. 19 to co-leader Camden-Frontier. Hillsdale Academy will get another chance at C-F on Feb. 11 and also can boast a win over SCAA West co-leader Bellevue.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Hudsonville (9-0) at Holland West Ottawa (8-2) – The reigning Ottawa-Kent Conference Red champion Eagles will try to hold off second-place West Ottawa in the first of their two meetings.
Tuesday – Iron Mountain (9-0) at Negaunee (10-0) – The Mountaineers took three wins from the Miners last season, outpacing them to win the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron and then eliminating Negaunee in a Regional Semifinal.
Friday – Oscoda (9-0) at Mio (8-1) – The two top teams in the North Star League Big Dipper again, Mio is just behind reigning champion Oscoda after the Owls won the first matchup Dec. 12.
Friday – Stevensville Lakeshore (9-0) at Portage Central (8-0) – This matchup for first place winds up the first half of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West schedule.
Saturday – Ypsilanti Lincoln (7-1) vs. Benton Harbor (9-1) at Grand Rapids City – The headlining matchup of the Redhawk Showcase Classic might be one of the most entertaining regular-season games of this entire season.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Alma improved to 7-3 last week with wins over Shepherd and Frankenmuth. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)