By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It’s inaccurate, of course, to say this Michigan high school girls basketball season all comes down to this week – but lot will be decided over the next seven days.
League tournaments for those sponsoring them all will be in full swing – with the Detroit Public School League’s champion decided this weekend. More league races remain ever-changing. And on Sunday, for the first time, District brackets will be published with limited seeding separating the top two teams until a possible meeting in the title-deciding final.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Michigan Center 65, Grass Lake 55 – The Cardinals avenged a Dec. 18 five-point loss to move into a first-place tie in the Cascades Conference with Grass Lake, and both are among leaders in Division 3 MPR statewide with Grass Lake No. 8 and Michigan Center No. 17.
2. Sault Ste. Marie 43, St. Ignace 29 – The Straits Area Conference is a two-team race and very well could end with a shared title as the Blue Devils avenged a three-point loss from Dec. 20 in this matchup between the No. 5 team in Division 2 and No. 2 in Division 4 Saints.
3. Grosse Pointe South 50, Macomb Dakota 47 – These Blue Devils moved up to No. 15 in Division 1 MPR and own a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title, although Dakota can take back a share if GPS falls tonight to rival Grosse Pointe North.
4. East Lansing 57, DeWitt 42 – The Trojans moved up to No. 2 in Division 1 MPR entering this week and took a two-game lead in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue by finishing a sweep of last season’s co-champ.
5. Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 54, Jenison 51 – The Rockets, No. 17 in Division 1 MPR, avenged a Jan. 10 loss to send Jenison into a first place tie in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black with Muskegon – and with a rematch against the Big Reds and title opportunity coming up Friday.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Holt (12-2) Expectations have been high for a while for this current group of Rams, and they’re making good catapulting a team that won nine games two years ago and finished 12-11 last season. Friday’s 51-41 win over Okemos pushed Holt into second place in the CAAC Blue and quite possibly past the Chiefs into the second seed in their District.
Midland Dow (13-2) It’s tough to say Dow needed a minute to get rolling this season given that its only losses were to Howell (11-3) and Midland (14-1). But after sending their entire backcourt to college ball last spring, the Chargers are back to full power with nine straight wins including their last three over the other top-four teams in the Saginaw Valley League Red – Midland, Bay City John Glenn and Saginaw Heritage.
Clare (13-2) Despite falling last week for the second time to second-place Pinconning, Clare continues to lead a Jack Pine Conference featuring five of eight teams that have won at least nine games. The Pioneers finished second in the JPC last season to Houghton Lake, which moved into the Highland Conference this school year, and has a great shot to close this title run. Clare’s final three league games are against teams it beat by an average of 12 points the first time around.
Portland (15-1) The Raiders have won 14 straight since falling to Williamston (12-3) on Dec. 6, and Friday against Lansing Catholic can clinch a share of the CAAC White title – a solid feat considering four of six teams in the league are 10-5 or better. Portland’s defense has been stifling, as it hasn’t allowed more than 30 points in a game in nearly a month – since defeating CAAC Red leader Haslett on Jan. 14
Brooklyn Columbia Central (15-2) The Golden Eagles can clinch a second-straight Lenawee County Athletic Association title Friday at Blissfield and edged the Royals by four points when they met Jan. 10. BCC also beat second-place Ida twice by single digits, but otherwise haven’t been challenged a lot outside of their losses to reigning Division 4 champion Adrian Lenawee Christian (13-1) and Division 2 Parma Western (12-2).
Calumet (11-3) A three-game losing stretch to start calendar year 2020 knocked Calumet off track for a minute, but the Copper Kings are back on their game and have won six straight. They hold a slim lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference West with three league games to play, and have a chance tonight to avenge the first of their losses, to Negaunee (12-3), after falling by 15 in their Jan. 2 meeting.
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (11-0) The three-time reigning champion Chargers are sitting atop the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue standings with their first of two meetings with second-place Plymouth Christian Academy (12-3) coming up Friday. They also own impressive wins over Division 1 Lincoln Park (10-4) and Division 2 Flat Rock (14-3), with another telling matchup coming up Thursday against Division 3 contender Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (14-4).
Athens (12-2) The Indians downed second-place Bellevue 50-28 last week to extend their lead in the Southern Central Athletic Association West after finishing second to the Broncos a year ago. Since falling on opening night to Battle Creek Calhoun Christian (9-5), Athens’ only other defeat this winter has come to SCAA East co-leader Pittsford (15-1) by seven on Jan. 17. Athens sees the other co-leader Camden-Frontier (15-1) on Wednesday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Wednesday – Farmington Hills Mercy (14-1) at Detroit Edison (13-0) – Contenders statewide in Divisions 1 and 2, respectively, face off, with Edison carrying a 38-game winning streak.
Friday – Detroit Cass Tech (15-1) vs. Detroit Renaissance (15-2) at University of Detroit Mercy – The champions of the East and West divisions, respectively, will meet for the first time this season in the Detroit Public School League Tournament final.
Friday – West Bloomfield (11-3) at Clarkton (12-3) – A 73-47 West Bloomfield win in their Jan. 9 meeting has been the difference in the Lakers leading the Oakland Activities Association Red and the Wolves trailing by a game.
Friday – Kent City (15-1) at Morley Stanwood (13-1) – The Eagles can clinch a share of the Central State Activities Association Silver title after also handing Morley Stanwood its lone loss 75-33 on Jan. 21.
Friday – East Kentwood (11-3) at Hudsonville (14-0) – The Eagles won the first meeting 45-41 on Jan. 17 and hold a one-game lead in the O-K Red over the three-time reigning champ Falcons because of it.
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.