By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Sunday was historic as for the first time, Boys Basketball District brackets were released with the top two teams separated to opposite sides, according to rankings produced by the Michigan Power Ratings formula.
While that was just another preliminary step for teams hoping to be Breslin Bound over the next month, more are to come this week as the state’s best finish off league titles or prepare to make their memories when the tournament begins in 14 days.
“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. River Rouge 58, Benton Harbor 52 – The Panthers (17-1) further cemented themselves among Division 1 championship favorites with a close win against one of the best in Division 2 in the Tigers (16-2).
3. Howell 75, Canton 71 (3OT) – The Highlanders locked up their first Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title since 2017 by outlasting co-runner-up Canton – a good thing because Howell fell three days later to also-second-place Northville.
3. Erie Mason 62, Blissfield 58 – The Eagles (13-3) avenged their lone league loss, by two to Blissfield (15-2) on Jan. 21 – to take over first place in the Lenawee County Athletic Association.
4. Coldwater 56, Battle Creek Pennfield 52 – After being upset by Jackson Northwest three days before, league leader Coldwater (11-6) hung on against one of three other teams in Pennfield (11-5) sitting within a game of first place in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
5. Ypsilanti Lincoln 108, Chelsea 102 (2OT) – This didn’t have bearing on a league title – Lincoln (15-2) had already clinched the Southeastern Conference White and Chelsea (11-6) is fourth – but it was the first time since 1998 that two teams in Michigan combined to score at least 210 points.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Muskegon (15-2) The Big Reds locked up their seventh Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title last week and have won 77 of their last 78 league games. Their only instate loss this season was 54-51 to Grand Blanc (15-3) – with the other defeat by 10 to Chicago Curie in December. They’ve been otherwise successful during an impressive nonleague slate that’s included wins over Ferndale (8-9 against the state’s ninth-strongest schedule), Saginaw (10-7) and Belleville (15-3) and with Kalamazoo Central (13-4) coming up next week.
River Rouge (17-1) Saturday’s win over Benton Harbor goes well with other nonleague victories over Ypsilanti Lincoln (15-2), Detroit Martin Luther King (13-5) and North Farmington (12-5) – and with Romulus (14-3) and Southfield Christian (13-3) coming up. Rouge’s only loss was 63-60 in overtime to Grand Rapids Catholic Central – the top-ranked team by MPR in Division 2. The Panthers also won their fifth-straight league title, going undefeated in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue thanks in part to sweeps of Hamtramck (14-3) and Ecorse (10-6).
Frankenmuth (14-2) – Two Tri-Valley Conference East teams are ranked among the top eight in Division 2 by MPR, Frankenmuth at No. 8 following No. 3 Bridgeport. The Eagles beat the Bearcats on Feb. 7 and trail in the standings by a game with two left. Frankenmuth also boasts solid wins over Jack Pine Conference co-leader Sanford Meridian (14-3) and Freeland (10-7) twice, and with room for a boost with Flint Southwestern (13-3) and Alma (12-6) coming up this week.
Otsego (17-1) The Bulldogs have won 15 straight and clinched the Wolverine Conference North championship, their third straight, and they can move to 24-0 in league play over those three seasons with a win over Allegan on Friday. The only loss was by 17 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central (see above) on Dec. 14. Only one team since – Battle Creek Lakeview – has come within nine points. Otsego also has an 11-point win over Edwardsburg, which it could see in next week’s conference crossover.
Iron Mountain (16-0) Returning a pair of stars from last season’s Division 3 runner-up run, Iron Mountain predictably has been dominant. The Mountaineers can clinch a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East title Tuesday and own a 69-51 win over second-place Negaunee (15-2) in from their first meeting Jan. 28 – they meet again March 5 to likely decide the title outright. Gladstone, with a 15-point loss Jan. 6, has come the closest to Iron Mountain so far.
Maple City Glen Lake (14-2) A 75-67 win over Frankfort on Friday finished a season sweep of the second-place Panthers (12-4) and clinched for Glen Lake the Northwest Conference title. The Lakers have won three straight league championships, including the last two outright, and are looking to make a run at a third-straight 20-win season as well. Their only losses were to Charlevoix (14-3) and Division 1 Traverse City West, and they beat Division 1 Saginaw Heritage (9-7) on Jan. 20 at Saginaw Valley State.
Hale (15-3) The Eagles have locked up the North Star League Little Dipper championship – their third consecutive – and despite losing two of their last three league games to second-place Posen (by one) and then Friday in a crossover that counts in the standings against Big Dipper champion Oscoda (by five). Those two and an earlier defeat to Oscoda (17-0) are the only losses this winter, and Hale did win its first meeting with Posen (12-4) by 16. The Eagles also have nice wins over Rogers City (11-7) and Mio (11-5).
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (11-5) The Defenders are 10-2 after a 1-3 start and sit tied for first in the Alliance League with Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (11-6), which they face Friday. Tri-unity always loads its nonleague schedule with bigger opponents, and all five losses have come to Division 3 teams with 11 or more victories. Tri-unity also is one of five teams in its league with 11 or more wins, making its place at the top even more impressive. The Defenders take on four teams with double-digit wins over the next two weeks.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (11-6) vs. Detroit Loyola (13-2) at Bloomfield Hills Marian – This winner faces Wednesday’s Orchard Lake St. Mary’s/Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice winner for the Detroit Catholic League Bishop championship.
Tuesday – Grand Rapids Northview (12-6) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (14-4) – After handing Forest Hills Central its only O-K White loss Friday, Northern must beat third-place Northview to keep in the mix for a shared league title and then root for Northview to beat Central on Friday so it can claim the outright championship.
Friday – Mount Pleasant (16-0) at Grand Blanc (15-3) – The Saginaw Valley League Blue champion hosts the winner from the Red in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.
Friday – Ann Arbor Huron (16-1) at Kalamazoo Central (13-4) – The Maroon Giants start off the week hosting Stevensville Lakeshore (14-3) and finish with another of the best from Division 1.
Friday – Traverse City St. Francis (15-2) at Charlevoix (14-3) – St Francis will likely clinch the Lake Michigan Conference title Tuesday, but second-place Charlevoix still will enjoy a chance to avenge its earlier 42-33 loss to the Gladiators.
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PHOTO: Menominee's Keagan Monroe drives to the basket while being surrounded by Ishpeming defenders Ben Pruett (23), Breck Bell (22) and Griffin Argall (34) and teammate Keaton Uecke. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)