By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Some of the most telling regular season basketball is played over holiday break.
And a number of teams expected to contend when February comes to a close made big impressions over the last two weeks with school out but hoops still in session.
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.
Clarkston (7-0) – After a middling 12-9 last winter, the Wolves are back on the rise with only two wins so far (by eight over Lake Orion and three over North Farmington) coming by fewer than 10 points.
DeWitt (7-0) – The reigning Class A runner-up has matched last season’s 7-0 start, with the most recent victory 67-45 over revamped Wayne Memorial at the Motor City Roundball Classic.
Marquette (7-1) – The Redettes fell to Class C contender St. Ignace in overtime during the first week, but have surged since with wins over Traverse City West (45-30) and Central (60-38) over the break.
Saginaw Heritage (6-0) – The Hawks earned the best win arguably of any team in the state, girls or boys, over the break, 39-29 over reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day at the Roundball Classic. Heritage won its first 11 last season on the way to the Class A Semifinals.
Kalkaska (5-0) – After tying for the league championship a year ago, Kalkaska should again be in the mix for first in the Lake Michigan Conference, with only Northwest Conference contender Maple City Glen Lake coming closer than 25 points so far.
Kingsford (6-1) – The Flivvers will hope for better in the rematch against Great Northern Conference rival Marquette after losing to the Redettes 66-27 on Dec. 17, but early on Kingsford looks like the next best in the league and a possibility to do more.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (6-0) – The Cougars’ opening run has included a 69-62 win over Class A contender Southfield-Lathrup and then three more over the break over Rockford (77-47), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (64-42) and Ann Arbor Huron (49-39).
Stockbridge (5-2) – The Panthers are another team on the rise after finishing 10-11 a year ago; they beat Concord 58-54 in overtime to win the Parma Western Invitational coming off a tough loss to league foe Perry.
Blissfield (6-0) – This start isn’t surprising given the team’s 22 wins a year ago, but Blissfield did have one of the best holiday runs of any girls team, regardless of class, with a 47-42 win over Waterford Our Lady and a 48-42 victory over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett.
Calumet (6-0) – The reigning Class C champion has won 15 straight games dating to last season and is giving up an average of only 31 points per in dominating this winter.
Ithaca (5-0) – The Yellowjackets opened with a nice 59-53 win over Pewamo-Westphalia and haven’t slowed as they seek to build on last year’s 21-3 record.
Millington (5-1) – A six-point loss to Birch Run aside, the Cardinals are cruising this season and handed Essexville Garber its only loss after having to battle back from an 0-4 start a year ago.
Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (6-0) – The Storm have stormed to a nice early run after having to battle back from 0-3 a year ago to win the Mid-South Conference; no opponent has come closer than 19 points this winter.
Bay City All Saints (6-1) – All Saints bounced back nicely after a 1-3 start last season, but kicked off much more quickly this time with its only loss to Class B Pinconning and a solid 40-35 win over Warren Michigan Collegiate at the Roundball Classic.
Newberry (5-0) – The Indians are off to another great start after winning nine of their first 10 in 2014-15, and this time beat Munising, 45-33, after Munising prevented the perfect first half a year ago.
Waldron (5-0) – The Spartans won by 19 and 17 in their two Hillsdale Tournament games as they prepared to provide what could be the greatest challenge to reigning Class D runner-up Pittsford in the Southern Central Athletic Association East.
PHOTO: Ithaca and Blanchard Montabella players battle for a loose ball during the Yellowjackets’ 55-26 win on Dec. 21. (Click for more photos from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)