The three-week journey to East Lansing everyone hopes to travel starts tonight with 169 District openers all over the state.
“Breslin Bound’ switches up a bit as we drive toward next month’s championship events at Breslin Center. See below for some of the results from the last week of the regular season that made the biggest impressions, and then check out three Districts in each division that could be the most interesting from this first round of the MHSAA Tournament.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 53, Detroit Renaissance 52 (OT) The Operation Friendship game featuring the Detroit Catholic League and Public School League tournament champions saw the Irish (19-3) continue a 10-game winning streak by handing Renaissance (18-1) its only defeat.
2. Salem 74, Wayne Memorial 71 (OT) Salem (16-6) was 2-15 just two seasons ago, but added the overall Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship to its quick ascension with this win over the Zebras (17-5).
3. Lansing Catholic 65, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 38 The Cougars (17-5) have won 15 of their last 16, highlighted by this one over the reigning Division 3 champion Gators (15-6).
4. Sault Ste. Marie 44, Escanaba 38 The Blue Devils (17-2) have a strong case as best in the Upper Peninsula this season after avenging a December loss to the Eskymos (18-2).
5. DeWitt 48, Holt 43 The Panthers (20-2) were perfect in February after losing to the Rams (18-4) to end January; this win in the rematch set DeWitt up to clinch a shared Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title with Holt in its regular-season finale.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
1. Traverse City Central (16-6), 2. Sault Ste. Marie (17-2), Petoskey (14-8), Marquette (9-12), Alpena (8-14), Gaylord (13-9), Traverse City West (5-16).
As noted above, Sault Ste. Marie is arguably the best from the Upper Peninsula and moved to the top of this District in MPR by the end of the regular season. But when Districts were drawn two weeks ago, Traverse City Central had earned the top seed. These two met Feb. 7, with the Blue Devils winning 49-37. But Sault Ste. Marie can’t look ahead to a rematch with Petoskey the possible opponent Wednesday. The Northmen swept TC Central to win the Big North Conference, clinching the title outright with a 58-47 victory last week.
1. Farmington Hills Mercy (19-3), 2. North Farmington (22-0), Southfield Arts & Technology (4-14), Farmington (11-9), Detroit Henry Ford (4-13).
The most anticipated matchup, of course, is a possible District Final between Mercy and the host Raiders. Only four of North Farmington’s wins were by single digits, while Mercy’s only losses were to Father Gabriel Richard (see above) and Division 2 favorite Detroit Edison. North Farmington does open with a rematch against Southfield A&T, which it defeated 53-42 in its regular-season opener. Also of note, Farmington has won five of its last seven and finished second in the OAA Blue.
1. Byron Center (19-3), 2. East Kentwood (14-7), East Grand Rapids (14-8), Caledonia (6-16), Wyoming (12-10), Middleville Thornapple Kellogg (5-16), Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (5-17).
Byron Center is carrying a 17-game winning streak and Ottawa-Kent Conference White title into this week and a possible rematch with East Kentwood, which handed the Bulldogs a 43-40 loss to start this season. The Falcons had a tough closing week of the regular season with losses to Holland West Ottawa and Hudsonville, but it’s relative as those teams both are 16-6. East Grand Rapids started 8-1 this season and could be an interesting opponent potentially seeing Byron Center for a third time Wednesday – if the Pioneers get past Wyoming in an opener.
1. Haslett (21-1), 2. Lansing Catholic (17-5), Williamston (13-8), Eaton Rapids (6-16), Charlotte (4-18), Lansing Eastern (5-17).
The Vikings’ work has included wins over Jackson Northwest and DeWitt – both 20-2 – and the lone loss to another Division 1 contender, Rockford (21-1). Haslet also defeated Lansing Catholic 59-49 on Feb. 7 – but as noted above, the Cougars are coming off a week that included a win over Arbor Prep, and they own more impressive victories over Father Gabriel Richard, Frankenmuth (19-2) and Lowell (16-6) among others. Lansing Catholic could see Williamston on Wednesday; their regular-season matchup was canceled, but the Hornets finished runners-up to Haslett in the CAAC Red.
Flint Powers Catholic
1. Lake Fenton (22-0), 2. Goodrich (19-3), Flint Powers Catholic (15-7), Linden (14-7).
Lake Fenton and Goodrich met for the third time Friday in the Flint Metro League championship game, and Lake Fenton finished a regular-season sweep with a 41-38 victory. The Blue Devils also own a pair of wins over Linden, which will face Goodrich on Wednesday after the Martians took their regular-season meeting 43-27. Powers, fourth place out of the Division 1-loaded Saginaw Valley League, is something of a wild card because of the strong competition it’s faced. Few teams have as many good losses, and a win over Bay City Western (15-7) was among highlights.
1. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (19-3), 2. Wixom St. Catherine (21-1), Chelsea (21-1), Pinckney (7-13), Canton Prep (14-6), Fowlerville (4-18).
FGR’s winning streak has included two wins over Mercy, the Renaissance victory and a pair over Dearborn Divine Child (15-6) as well. The team’s losses were to Mercy (twice avenged), Lansing Catholic and Arbor Prep. St. Catherine’s only defeat came to Detroit Country Day during the first week of December, and the Stars went on to win league and league tournament titles as well – and 14 games total over teams with double-digit victories. Chelsea’s only loss this season came to a team from Ohio, Laurel, and it has 11 wins over teams with double-digit victories including Arbor Prep. Chelsea also has two over Tecumseh (18-4), which it outpaced to win the Southeastern Conference White. The Bulldogs open against another league champion, Canton Prep from the Detroit Metro Athletic Conference.
1. Buchanan (19-1), 2. Niles Brandywine (20-2), Cassopolis (16-6), Bridgman (16-4), Coloma (2-7).
The Bucks are considered a statewide Division 3 contender with arguably the top player in Miss Basketball Award finalist Faith Carson. But things will be tough right away as they await a District-opening result from Bridgman and Cassopolis – the latter the champion from the Southwest 10 Conference South. On the other side of the bracket is Brandywine, which finished second to Buchanan in the Lakeland Conference with its only losses this season to the Bucks – 49-45 in overtime Dec. 15 and 52-41 on Feb. 2. Brandywine also has a 64-39 win over Cassopolis. Buchanan’s only loss was to still-undefeated Vicksburg (22-0) in the season opener, and it defeated Watervliet (18-4) – which swept Bridgman.
1. Hancock (19-1), 2. Calumet (16-4), Negaunee (18-4), Ishpeming (15-6), Gwinn (6-14), Ishpeming Westwood (8-13).
All six of these teams play in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, with Hancock and Calumet the top two from the West and Negaunee and Ishpeming first and second, respectively, from the East. Hancock also has an argument this winter as the U.P.’s best team, its lone loss 50-49 to Escanaba in January. Calumet defeated Escanaba 59-57 a few weeks later and lost to Hancock by only three and six points. Negaunee got all of its defeats out of the way in December, falling to Hancock and Calumet but avenging the latter 44-43 on Feb. 7. Ishpeming lost to Negaunee by a point only three days later. Hancock and the Hematites are on the top of the bracket, while Calumet and Negaunee are on the bottom. So is Westwood, which has won five of its last six.
1. Hemlock (19-3), 2. Sanford Meridian (19-1), Saginaw Valley Lutheran (19-3), Beal City (14-7), St. Louis (13-9).
This District features three league champions – Hemlock from the Tri-Valley Conference West 10-1, Valley Lutheran from the TVC West 10-2 and host Meridian from the Jack Pine Conference. Meridian’s only loss was in overtime to Division 2 Marysville (18-4), and it has wins over Freeland, Farwell and Evart, which all have won at least 17 games. The Mustangs open with St. Louis, while on the other side Hemlock will await either Valley Lutheran or Beal City. Hemlock defeated Valley Lutheran by 25 only two weeks ago, but the Chargers showed they can bounce back in avenging an early loss to Ithaca to share their league title. Beal City could show the strength of the Highland Conference, which had three teams contending into last week. Those three handed the Aggies six of their seven losses.
1. Fowler (15-7), 2. Portland St. Patrick (14-7), Morrice (16-3), Lansing Christian (10-12), Webberville (8-14).
The first steps for Fowler during its back-to-back Division 4 championship runs the last two seasons both required District wins over longtime rival St. Patrick. The teams split their series this regular season, but the Shamrocks are on a roll with six straight wins including 39-36 on Friday over Central Michigan Athletic Conference champion Dansville (18-2). That said, the early St. Patrick loss was Fowler’s only one to a Division 4 team as it loaded the schedule, and the Eagles have seen just about everything they might encounter. Morrice is intriguing; it has won eight straight since a loss to St. Patrick on Jan. 19 and also avenged its long league loss to Genesee. Morrice and Fowler would meet Wednesday if the Orioles can get past Lansing Christian, which also played mostly bigger schools this winter.
1. Pittsford (18-3), 2. Morenci (17-4), Adrian Lenawee Christian (12-10), Waldron (11-10), Camden-Frontier (8-11).
Pittsford has won seven straight to clinch the Southern Central Athletic Association East title, including 41-40 in overtime against Hillsdale Academy which ended up deciding the league championship outright. On the other side of the bracket Morenci has had a tough run of late, with four losses over the last seven games – but the Bulldogs still shared the title in the Tri-County Conference. Morenci gets SCAA Central champion Waldron in its first game Wednesday, while Pittsford could see a Lenawee Christian team that has won seven of its last 10 with a victory during that stretch over Bronson (18-3).
1. Mackinaw City (21-1), 2. Cedarville/DeTour (15-4), St. Ignace (12-9), Pickford (9-11), Mackinac Island (7-5), Pellston (1-20).
Playoff time generally is St. Ignace time, and the Saints are home this week and have tested themselves again against competition of all sizes from both peninsulas. But the difference this time is St. Ignace split a regular-season series with Cedarville/DeTour – and Cedarville/DeTour won the second meeting 44-38 on Feb. 14. Mackinaw City also no doubt is eager to show it’s taking another step with its lone loss to Division 3 Ovid-Elsie (18-4) and a 57-46 win over the Islanders in early December. The Comets are on top of the bracket, with Cedarville/DeTour, St. Ignace and Pickford on the other side.
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PHOTO Grand Ledge and Caledonia tip off a game this regular season. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)