By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The countdown has begun.
Five days until we announce District brackets with the top two teams on separate sides for the first time. Just under three weeks until the regular season ends. Five weeks from today we’ll be packing for the Breslin Center and this season’s Boys Basketball Semifinals and Finals.
It could go by in a flash. But in the meantime, there are tons of moments to savor – especially at the local league level. We turn a lot of our focus to those in this week’s report.
“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. Detroit Cass Tech 66, Detroit Douglass 41 – The Technicians (17-1) repeated as Detroit Public School League Tournament champions with a commanding win over the Hurricanes (15-4).
2. Wyoming 62, Grand Rapids Christian 61 – The Wolves’ only loss this winter was by two Jan. 17 to the Eagles (14-1), and Wyoming (14-1) taking the rematch eventually could result in them sharing the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title.
3. Marquette 68, Escanaba 64 – The Redmen (15-3) locked up their fourth-straight Great Northern Conference championship by avenging their lone league loss, to second-place Escanaba (11-6).
4. Belleville 53, Westland John Glenn 49 – The Tigers (13-3) earned a share of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East title with a second win over the second-place Rockets (11-5).
5. Ann Arbor Skyline 53, Ann Arbor Huron 40 – The Eagles (11-5) not only avenged a Jan. 24 defeat but handed the first this season to the rival River Rats (14-1).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Hudsonville (14-1) The Eagles already have clinched the O-K Red title outright as no other league team has fewer than four losses. The championship was Hudsonville’s second straight after going just 10-12 two seasons ago. The lone loss this winter came against another Division 1 contender, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 65-47 on Feb. 1 – and the Eagles will get another major test tonight in Wyoming (14-1) as they prep to build on last year’s Regional Final run.
Ypsilanti Lincoln (13-2) The reigning Division 1 champion has taken the first step toward another memorable finish, clinching a share of the Southeastern Conference White title Friday with a 68-45 win over second-place Dexter. The Railsplitters and sophomore phenom Emoni Bates also have impressive wins over Okemos (12-3) and Detroit Edison (10-4), and the losses look pretty great too – to Division 2 contender Benton Harbor and on opening night to River Rouge in a preview of a possible playoff matchup.
Bridgeport (16-1) A loss two weeks ago to Frankenmuth was the only trip-up as Bridgeport has moved within two wins of clinching a share of the Tri-Valley Conference East title for the fourth-straight season. The Bearcats are second in Division 2 MPR with wins also over Linden (14-2), Skyline (11-5), the Eagles (12-2) and Flint Southwestern (13-2) among 10 total against teams with double-digit victories. That also includes a pair against Alma (12-4), which handed Bridgeport its only loss of last season in a Regional Semifinal.
Carrollton (14-0) The Cavaliers already have tied their most wins for a season since 2014-15, and they’ll be in line to claim the Tri-Valley Conference West title if they can finish a season sweep Friday of second-place Hemlock (14-1), which Carrollton defeated the first time 64-46 on Jan. 17. The Cavaliers also own a 77-70 win over Greater Thumb Conference West leader Reese and will close the regular-season with another nice test in currently-unbeaten Kingston.
Detroit Loyola (12-2) The Bulldogs are Detroit Catholic League AA champions and a pair of back-to-back five-point losses to Hamtramck and Dearborn Divine Child from a perfect record. They avenged that defeat to Divine Child with a 17-point win Feb. 11, and they’ve also handed Macomb Lutheran North (12-2) its only defeats this winter. The league title was Loyola’s second straight, and it also reached the Regional Finals last season.
Oscoda (15-0) The Owls have run their regular-season winning streak to 35 and remain the pacesetter in the North Star League Big Dipper thanks in part to a pair of double-digit wins over Mio (11-4). Oscoda also has a 30-point win over Posen (11-4) and a 21-pointer over Hale (14-2) with the rematch against the latter coming up Friday. They’ll also hope to build next month on last year’s Regional Finals run.
Bellevue (13-2) The Broncos have won 10 straight as they pursue what would be a fifth-straight Southern Central Athletic Association West championship. Bellevue has a slight edge on Battle Creek St. Philip after defeating the Tigers last week for the second time, this time 54-41. The Broncos have more to aim for as well – they’ve won seven straight District titles and reached the Quarterfinals a year ago.
Dryden (11-4) Despite trailing Kingston and International Academy of Flint in the North Central Thumb League Stars, Dryden is ahead of IAF and No. 4 statewide in Division 4 MPR. The Cardinals split with the Phoenix, winning the second meeting 49-34 on Jan. 31, and Dryden’s only losses of calendar year 2020 are two to Kingston. New Lothrop (14-2) in the regular-season finale will be a challenge, but winning out would push Dryden past its 15-win totals of the last two seasons before the playoffs start.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Okemos (12-3) at East Lansing (13-1) – The Chiefs lead the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue by a game over the Trojans thanks to a 69-51 win in their first meeting Jan. 14.
Tuesday – Canton (11-5) at Howell (13-3) – The Highlanders can clinch the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title outright with a win over second-place Canton; their first meeting went to Howell 50-48 on Jan. 24.
Thursday – Cadillac (13-2) at Petoskey (10-4) – These two are tied for first in the Big North Conference, and the winner of this game wins a share of the league title – and the whole thing if Traverse City Central loses to Gaylord this night or another of its final three league games.
Friday – Blissfield (14-1) at Onsted (11-4) – The Royals lead Onsted in the Lenawee County Athletic Association by a game, but lost the first meeting with the Wildcats 55-53 on Jan. 7.
Saturday – Benton Harbor (15-1) at River Rouge (16-1) – Last season’s Division 2 runner-up Rouge hosts the 2018 Class B champion Tigers in a matchup of teams that could both end up in MHSAA Finals next month.
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: Flint Beecher, here against Burton Bendle on Feb. 7, leads Division 3 MPR with three weeks remaining in the regular season. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)