A holiday break means time away from school and work for many over the next few weeks – but not from basketball for several teams across both peninsulas.
A total of 52 one-day showcases or multi-day tournaments will help fill in the break between when schools let out in a few days and students return after the new year.
“Break” also describes what happened to the backboard in the video clip below – check out the call by Fred Shaw and Darrin Petrikowski from CTV in St. Clair after Evan Trudeau threw down a dunk against St. Clair Shores Lakeview on Friday – making quite a memorable impact on the new gymnasium, which opened just three weeks ago.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 71, Detroit U-D Jesuit 57 The Warriors’ opening win in the Catholic High School League Central was a major one as these two were the top two teams in the standings last season. Heading into this week, Rice sits 6-0 and Jesuit is 4-1.
2. Grand Rapids South Christian 58, Hudsonville Unity Christian 56 South Christian (3-1) ran its win streak to three over the rival Crusaders (3-3), with this one following up last season’s in a Division 2 Quarterfinal.
3. Canton 59, Lansing Waverly 55 These teams won 16 and 18 games, respectively, last season, and both have aspirations this winter with Canton improving to 3-2 and Waverly falling to 4-2 after their Northville Winter Shootout matchup.
4. DeWitt 60, Grand Ledge 50 The Comets (4-2) topped this list last week with their win over Saginaw, but DeWitt (6-0) makes it this time with a solid start to Capital Area Activities Conference Blue play.
5. Hamtramck 51, River Rouge 46 River Rouge (3-2) won both matchups of this high-powered rivalry last season, and Hamtramck (5-1) will try to finish a sweep when they meet again Jan. 19.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) The Rangers’ lone loss came during the opening Friday to Muskegon Reeths-Puffer, featured in this space a week ago in part because of that victory. Forest Hills Central won three times last week including by three points apiece over Caledonia and Grandville, adding to a solid start as it looks to improve on last season’s 12-11 finish.
Okemos (6-0) The CAAC Blue could be one of the strongest under-the-radar leagues in the state this winter, and Okemos joins DeWitt and East Lansing as undefeated after handing Lansing Everett its first loss Thursday. The Wolves have won all of their games by at least 12 points, including notables over Williamston and Howell.
Kingsford (6-0) The Flivvers are coming off a historic 2022-23 season – they set a program record with 21 wins and reached the Regional Finals for the first time since 2001. The surge continues as Kingsford’s closest game so far was a 16-pointer in the season opener over Negaunee, a league runner-up last season.
Whitehall (4-0) The Vikings are enjoying a stretch of three straight league titles (last season’s shared with Ludington) and are off to another solid start with chances coming up to see how they line up farther from home. Whitehall gets Hamtramck and East Grand Rapids this week at the Cornerstone Holiday Classic before getting back into league play against Ludington on Jan. 5.
Cass City (6-0) The Red Hawks took a jump to 21-3 last season after winning six and 13 games the previous two, and they’ve been challenged only once so far – a 54-53 win over Saginaw Nouvel at the Louis O’Neil Tournament at Saginaw Valley State. Carter Patrick went over 1,000 career points earlier this month and keys a team that won six games last season by three or fewer points.
Riverview Gabriel Richard (5-0) The Pioneers have been on a run for a while, but most recently were a combined 59-10 over the last four seasons heading into this one. And this winter could be special if early returns are an indication – Gabriel Richard has handed the only losses so far to Trenton, Romulus Summit Academy and Taylor Trillium.
Pickford (5-0) The Panthers jumped from 4-18 two seasons ago to 13-9 last winter and could be on their way to another major move. They’ve already avenged last season’s loss to reigning Division 4 champion Munising, 64-61 last Tuesday, and they’ll get their first chance against reigning Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference champion Rudyard on Jan. 4. Rudyard defeated Pickford three times last season, including in their District Final.
Taylor Trillium Academy (5-1) That 73-55 loss noted above to Gabriel Richard was a great challenge for Trillium coming off last season’s run to the Division 4 Quarterfinals, and no one else this season has gotten closer than 18 points. Trillium finishes its 2023 calendar year schedule Thursday with the first of two games against Center Line Prep Academy, which should be another good test off to a 4-1 start.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Dec. 27 – East Lansing (3-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (4-2) at Detroit Cass Tech – East Lansing is considered perhaps the best from a strong Lansing area as it takes one of Detroit’s annual elite at the Public School League Holiday Tournament.
Dec. 27 – Chelsea (1-1) at Detroit Cass Tech (4-0) – The reigning Division 1 champion Technicians face a 2023 Division 2 quarterfinalist in the 7:45 p.m. finale of the PSL Holiday Tournament.
Dec. 28 – Warren De La Salle Collegiate (4-0) vs. Flint Powers Catholic (5-0) at Ferndale – The Pilots have a pair of Motor City Roundball Classic games against strong Flint-area teams, with Goodrich also on the slate for Dec. 30.
Dec. 30 – Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (3-0) vs. Warren Lincoln (4-0) at Ferndale – This Roundball Classic matchup is a rematch of last season’s St. Mary’s triple-overtime win over the Abes.
Dec. 30 – Ann Arbor Huron (3-0) vs. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (6-0) at North Farmington – These Division 1 contenders will face off in the 7 p.m. slot at the North Farmington Holiday Extravaganza.
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PHOTO A pair of Detroit University Prep defenders stretch for a block against Davison last week during the Cardinals' 89-82 overtime win. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)