No school for the next two weeks hardly means no basketball for many teams across the state.
Holiday showcases, classics, tournaments, etc., canceled last season because of the COVID-related late start are returning to close this calendar year, and they’ll surely clue us in more on the teams to watch once we return and turn to 2022.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Richland Gull Lake 78, Kalamazoo Central 75 (OT) The Blue Devils are off to a 3-0 start, with this Central’s first home league loss since 2014.
2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 60, Clarkston 51 The Eaglets (3-0) continued their impressive start by dealing Clarkston (2-1) its first defeat.
3. River Rouge 61, Warren Fitzgerald 59 Rouge (3-0) won three times last week, two times by a bucket, beginning with this victory and followed by a 62-61 win over Belleville.
4. Benton Harbor 73, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 62 The Tigers (3-0) are revving again after last season’s trip to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, with this win coming at Grand Rapids Union’s Showcase Classic.
5. Buckley 61, Maple City Glen Lake 59 It’s hard to imagine a better start for Buckley (1-0), defeating the reigning Northwest Conference champ after finishing 7-13 overall and seventh in the league last season.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Ann Arbor Huron (3-0) Last season’s Division 1 runner-up is up to a combined 43-2 since the start of 2019-20, with a couple of solid and close wins last week. After opening the season Dec. 10 with a 15-point victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln, the River Rats defeated Ann Arbor Skyline 48-42 and Saline 41-39 – the only losses for those latter two opponents so far.
Hamtramck (4-0) The Cosmos are now a combined 35-6 going back to the start of the 2019-20 season and coming off a Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Black championship last winter. So far, so good this season as well, with last week featuring a 54-52 overtime win over Canton and an 81-54 victory over Wyoming Godwin Heights at Cornerstone University. The first matchup with league rival River Rouge is Jan. 28.
Olivet (4-0) The Eagles returned to their usual successful ways with a 13-3 run last winter, and they appear on that path again. The 59-32 opening win over Union City remains the Chargers’ only defeat, and Olivet followed that up with a 55-24 win over a Hanover-Horton team coming off a run to the Division 3 Semifinals. All four Eagles victories have come by at least 20 points.
Parchment (5-0) The Panthers broke a string of two straight sub.-500 finishes with a 14-4 run last winter, and they’ve already defeated Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley reigning champion Schoolcraft after tying for second in the league last season. Parchment will meet Grand Rapids West Catholic in Wednesday’s Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament Red championship game after defeating Wyoming Potter’s House Christian in Monday’s opener.
Bad Axe (5-0) The Hatchets closed last season’s 12-3 showing with a District title, and expectations should be growing as four of five wins have been by at least 17 points. The only losses last winter came to league rival Reese – the Rockets also won the Regional matchup – and those teams meet for the first time this season Jan. 12.
Vandercook Lake (5-0) The Jayhawks appear ready to take the next step after winning four games two seasons ago and finishing 9-9 last winter. A 56-53 win over Homer on Dec. 10 avenged an 18-point loss to last season’s Big 8 Conference champion, and Thursday’s 70-56 victory over Michigan Center avenged a pair of 2020-21 defeats.
Britton Deerfield (3-0) After two straight winning seasons, Britton Deerfield dropped back to 6-11 last winter. But the Patriots look to be putting that quickly behind them with three double-digit wins to start. Last week’s 68-56 win over Morenci was the Bulldogs’ lone defeat.
Hillman (3-0) Last season’s 12-8 finish broke a string of two sub-.500 seasons, and the Tigers are off and running again. Two of three wins so far have avenged losses from last winter – the 39-37 victory over Rogers City in the opener after Hillman lost last season’s meeting by a point, and a 65-31 win over Alcona last week after the Tigers lost last winter’s meeting by 12.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Wednesday – Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2-0) at Detroit Renaissance (3-0) Contenders from the Detroit Catholic League and Detroit Public School League help kick off two weeks of big-time nonleague holiday games.
Wednesday – Parchment (5-0) vs. Grand Rapids West Catholic (3-0) at Cornerstone University – These two will face off for the Holiday Tournament Red championship.
Dec. 27 – Flint Beecher (4-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (1-1) at Ferndale – The Motor City Roundball Classic returns, and this matchup features the reigning Division 3 champ and a Division 1 contender.
Dec. 27 – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0) vs. Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-1) at Ferndale – Both are recent Finals participants, GRCC the reigning Division 2 champion and Jesuit the 2019 Division 1 runner-up.
Dec. 28 – Williamston (5-0) vs. North Farmington (3-0) at Ferndale – This Roundball Classic game also features top teams in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) Traverse City St. Francis opened last week with a 59-40 win over reigning Lake Michigan Conference champ Charlevoix. (Middle) DeWitt's Landen Poe (20) drives while being defended by Howell's Breven Weller (0). (Photos by Rick Sack and Cara Kamps, respectively.)