By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We’ve returned for the start of 2017 – and with plenty to review from the holiday break that featured top teams facing off in multi-day tournaments or one-day showcases especially in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas.
But our highlights this week powered by MI Student Aid aren’t reserved for teams from Michigan’s largest cities; high-performing squads from the southern border to Lake Superior’s shore gave us reasons to watch as we turned the calendar over to the new year.
Week in Review
The countdown of the holiday break's five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Country Day 55, Detroit Martin Luther King 46 – The Detroit area’s best-known powers hadn’t played each other in at least six seasons; the Class B Yellowjackets moved to 7-0 in downing the reigning Class A runner-up Crusaders (7-1).
2. Northville 62, Warren Cousino 51 – After a one-point loss to Dearborn on opening night, Northville has dominated, most recently winning its holiday invitational with this victory over the reigning Class A champion.
3. Holland Christian 43, Hudsonville 33 – The Maroons improved to 6-0 and won their holiday tournament with this victory over Hudsonville, previously undefeated and a Class A semifinalist last season. CORRECTION: Hudsonville actually won this game 61-43 to win the tournament and move to 7-0.
4. Detroit Martin Luther King 48, Muskegon Mona Shores 45 – The day after falling to Country Day, King came back with this close win over the Sailors, who are also expected to contend in Class A this season.
5. Dearborn Divine Child 54, Farmington Hills Mercy 39 – Mercy looks to be among the state’s best in Class A again, which is great news for a Divine Child program that also boasts plenty of tradition but is coming off a six-win season.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Clarkston (8-0) – The Wolves boys get a lot of attention, but the girls have won at least 15 games four of the last five seasons (going 15-6 last winter) and are more than halfway there after Motor City Roundball Classic victories over River Rouge (66-41) and Detroit Cass Tech (63-54).
Detroit East English (7-1) – The Bulldogs have dominated for the most part and already are closing in on equaling last season’s win total; their only loss was by four to one-loss Detroit Collegiate Prep, and they’ve won all over their other games by at least 20.
Manistee (6-2) – A Class B quarterfinalist last season, Manistee took losses to neighbors Big Rapids and Cadillac over the first two weeks but came back with a six-point win over Traverse City West and a two-pointer over Shelby during the break.
Olivet (5-1) – Save for an 84-80 shootout loss to Battle Creek Pennfield, the Eagles are again riding high after falling off just a bit to 13-9 last season. They dealt Galesburg-Augusta its only loss, 67-40, on Dec. 20.
Carson City-Crystal (4-2) – These Eagles might have one of the strongest two-loss records in the state, with those defeats by two to one-loss Merrill and six to undefeated and reigning Class D runner-up Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart; they kicked off the break with a 51-29 win over Saginaw Nouvel.
Ishpeming (5-0) – The Hematites, 10-9 a season ago, have opened with five double-digit wins including 61-49 over Calumet, the 2015 Class C champion, and 43-33 over rival Westwood last week.
Athens (4-1) – Regardless of a one-point overtime loss to Centreville on Dec. 12, Athens is more than on pace to equal its back-to-back 16-win seasons and most recently handed a 41-22 loss to Mendon – winner of 17 games a year ago.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (4-2) – The Defenders are another girls team often in the shadow of a boys program that has had statewide success, but coming off a Quarterfinal appearance last season they’re looking to make their name again and beat Class B Montague 48-42 to finish 2016.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Charlevoix (4-0) at St. Ignace (3-1) – Charlevoix is taking major strides led by a freshman standout, and will get a good gauge of that progress against the Class C-contending Saints in a preview of a possible postseason matchup.
Wednesday – Warren Cousino (4-2) at Port Huron Northern (7-0) – The Macomb Area Conference Red is loaded, with six teams including these two starting at least 4-2.
Thursday – Warren Cousino (4-2) at Grosse Pointe North (5-1) – See above; reigning Class A champion Cousino will take on strong league rivals on back-to-back nights.
Thursday – Ishpeming (5-0) at Norway (6-0) – First place in the Mid-Peninsula Conference as well as two perfect records will be on the line in the first of two matchups between these two this winter.
Friday – Merrill (6-1) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (5-0) – These two look to be the best of a strong Mid-State Activities Conference, won last season by the Irish while Merrill played in the Tri-Valley Conference West.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart pushes the ball upcourt during a 62-17 win over Beal City on Dec. 19. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)