By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As we head toward the midpoint of this girls basketball season, a few intriguing teams are making us keep an eye out thanks to wins over opponents who traditionally don’t lose much.
Read on for the details on why Detroit Renaissance and Durand have become teams to watch – plus a look at 14 more that stood out not only over the last week, but during the first six of the season so far.
Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention. Results and records below are based on schedules posted at MHSAA.com.
Detroit Renaissance (8-1) – The Phoenix could be Detroit’s best for the first time since finishing Class A runner-up in 2011; Renaissance’s only loss is to undefeated Bay City John Glenn, and it’s beaten usual Detroit leader Detroit Martin Luther King (68-65 on Dec. 17) in addition to strong teams Detroit Henry Ford, Farmington Hills Harrison and Manistee.
Grosse Pointe North (6-0) – The Norsemen have finished a few wins above or below .500 every season of this decade and exactly even a year ago, but have won all of their games by double digits so far and are more than halfway to equaling last season’s 11 victories.
Utica Eisenhower (8-0) – The Eagles came off a solid 15-8 and second-place league finish a year ago, but have stormed to this start with six wins by at least 12 points including their first in Macomb Area Conference White play over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on Friday.
St. Johns (6-2) – The Redwings broke into the Capital Area Activities Conference Red hunt coming back off a December loss to leader DeWitt by handing former co-leader Haslett its first loss, 52-40 on Friday, after losing to the Vikings by 33 and 19 last season.
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (6-0) – The Fighting Irish have risen steadily the last three seasons and tied Macomb Lutheran North for the Catholic League AA title last season; they’ve got the upper hand this time after downing Lutheran North 43-35 last week.
Center Line (6-1) – The Panthers are regulars lately at the top of their Macomb Area Conference division and look like potential favorites in the Gold this winter with two games holding opponents to single digits and two more keeping teams to fewer than 20 points.
Durand (6-2) – Not only are the Railroaders off to their best start since 2010-11, but they handed annual power Goodrich its first league loss since at least that long ago and now have a nice early advantage in the Genesee Area Conference Red standings.
Perry (5-0) – The Ramblers under coach Tim Beebe are 39-10 over the last two-plus seasons and have a game on the rest of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference pack – plus three two-point victories, including last week’s over above-mentioned Durand.
Adrian Madison (7-0) – The Trojans are working toward their fifth straight Tri-County Conference championship and own a one-game lead on two second-place teams including Morenci after Friday’s 59-28 win over the Bulldogs. No opponent has come closer than 10 points so far.
Detroit Cristo Rey (6-1) – One more win this season will give Cristo Rey its most since 2011-12, and all six this winter have come by double digits and with five opponents scoring 18 or fewer points.
Marlette (6-1) – The Red Raiders already earned a big boost in the Greater Thumb Conference East, bouncing back from their lone loss to beat reigning champion Sandusky before the break; the next big matchup is Friday against league co-leader Harbor Beach.
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (8-1) – A Class C semifinalist last season, Arbor Prep again has loaded the schedule to prepare for another run and owns a nice win over Manistee, with its only loss to Class A Ann Arbor Huron. Waterford Kettering, Saginaw Nouvel, Bay City John Glenn, Bloomfield Hills Marian and Detroit Country Day are among opponents coming up.
Detroit Public Safety Academy (5-1) – This is the Eagles’ first season of MHSAA Tournament eligibility, and they’re looking like an interesting possibility to do something in Class D; last week’s win came over Dearborn Advanced Tech, which beat above-mentioned Cristo Rey, and Public Safety also owns a victory over Class B Detroit Osborn.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (8-0) – Keyed by dominating center Averi Gamble, Sacred Heart again is navigating a strong nonleague schedule in addition to some good competition in the Mid-State Activities Conference; she had eight of her team’s 22 points in last week’s four-point win over league foe and previously-undefeated Carson City-Crystal. The Irish beat Gaylord St. Mary (6-2) earlier in the week.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (5-1) – The Titans did open last week with a 52-47 loss to once-defeated Class B Buchanan, but came back to beat rival St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 46-41 and take a two-game lead in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference White.
Stephenson (7-0) – After losing five of their final seven to finish last season 10-10, the Eagles have bounced back well with six wins by at least 16 points plus a 56-53 victory last week over Class B Gladstone.
PHOTO: A St. Louis shooter prepares to launch; the Class C Sharks are 5-0 this season. (Click for more photos from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)