Friday’s winter storm swept away most of this weekend’s boys basketball games, but plenty of our season-long story got told before the snow fell and temperatures dipped below zero.
And as this week begins, we’re officially into the second half of the 2023-24 championship pursuit, with league competition especially heating up gyms all over the state.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 70, Detroit Catholic Central 56 The latest most notable matchup of the week in the Catholic League Central saw St. Mary’s (8-1) hold onto the top spot against a DCC team that at 8-3 is emerging to join the other four Michigan teams as a Division 1 title contender (more on that below).
2. Benton Harbor 72, Niles Brandywine 59 The Tigers (11-0) not only remain undefeated but moved into first alone in the Lakeland Conference by breaking the tie at the top of the standings with Brandywine (9-2).
3. East Lansing 69, Lansing Waverly 62 The Trojans (9-0) also remain perfect as they work to separate in a loaded Capital Area Activities Conference Blue where Waverly (8-3) also is a challenger.
4. Detroit Cass Tech 88, Detroit Renaissance 85 The reigning Division 1 champion Technicians (9-0) followed up a two-point win over Macomb Dakota with this one to stay among the undefeated in the Detroit Public School League Blue, but Renaissance (8-4) could still play a big role in deciding the eventual champion.
5. Cadillac 36, McBain 33 Cadillac (9-0) survived its toughest challenge of an undefeated start in handing McBain (7-1) its only loss this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Catholic Central (8-3) The loss to St. Mary’s noted above was just a slight slowdown during an otherwise eye-opening start under first-year coach Tory Jackson, most recently of Grand Blanc, who took over a team that finished 11-11 a year ago. The Shamrocks followed the St. Mary’s loss by defeating Detroit U-D Jesuit 71-63 to knock the Cubs out of a tie for first in the Catholic League Central, and they’ve handed lone losses this winter to Okemos and Riverview Gabriel Richard with more impressive wins over Waverly, Davison and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice.
Hudsonville (7-2) After finishing second to East Kentwood in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red last season, Hudsonville’s first opportunity this winter against the Falcons on Friday was postponed. But the Eagles have prepped well for whenever that contest is made up, most notably handing Muskegon Reeths-Puffer its lone loss and taking defeats from unbeaten Grand Rapids Christian and then Grand Rapids South Christian by only four, 48-44. The Reeths-Puffer win and a 62-46 victory over Byron Center avenged losses from last season, when Hudsonville finished 18-8.
Romulus Summitt Academy North (9-1) This has become an annual level of success for Summit, a Division 2 semifinalist last season and 20-game winner three in a row. The lone loss so far was to one-loss Riverview Gabriel Richard, 58-55, and came just a few days after the Dragons handed Ypsilanti Lincoln what remains its only defeat, 60-38. A matchup Tuesday against Detroit University Prep is lining up to decide the Charter School Conference Gold championship.
Yale (9-1) The Bulldogs have jumped for four to 10 to 16 victories over the last three seasons, respectively, and sit alone atop a Blue Water Area Conference with six teams total boasting winning records. The challenges are on the way this week in Almont and reigning co-champion Croswell-Lexington. But Yale has shown to be up for them, with a 72-34 win over the other co-champ, Richmond, and its only loss 52-51 to Utica Ford. The Bulldogs also have a 71-53 win over Greater Thumb Conference East leader Harbor Beach.
Charlevoix (9-1) Back-to-back wins over reigning Lake Michigan Conference co-champions Boyne City and Traverse City St. Francis over the last 10 days are more proof the Rayders are well along on a bounce-back from last season’s 6-18 finish. Charlevoix also defeated last season’s Northwest Conference champion Maple City Glen Lake, 52-45, and the only loss came 54-52 to Grayling, with that rematch set for Jan. 26.
Jackson Lumen Christi (7-1) The Titans made quite a jump from 3-18 two seasons ago to 14-10 last winter, and they’re on track to blow past that improvement as well. Lumen Christi has begun its first season in the Catholic League AA 3-0 and also picked up a nice win 72-65 over Michigan Center during break. Perhaps notably, that victory followed up the team’s lone loss, 69-65 to Adrian Lenawee Christian, and a 53-32 victory over Jackson Northwest on Jan. 6 avenged two of the defeats from last season.
Dryden (9-1) The Cardinals finished second in the North Central Thumb League Stars last season and have been difference-makers in the league the last several years, winning it in 2020-21. They’ve got the upper hand again this winter thanks to a 61-50 win last week over reigning champion Kingston, which swept Dryden a season ago. The only loss came Dec. 1 against Mt. Morris, and Dryden bounced back with a two-point win over Almont and a one-pointer over Webberville to start an eight-game winning streak.
Munising (8-3) The Mustangs’ run to their first Finals championship was one of the stories of last season, and a lineup that included three sophomores on the way to Breslin Center is showing well during the encore. Munising lost by a point to Norway in its season opener and by three to one-loss Pickford in overtime also before break, and then to Ishpeming Westwood near the end of the calendar year. But the Mustangs edged emerging Crystal Falls Forest Park 47-46 last Monday and total have four wins over teams with winning records and a fifth over an opponent that otherwise would be above .500.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Grand Rapids Northview (6-0) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (10-1) – Although Friday’s matchup with Grand Rapids Christian was postponed, that just turned Northview’s attention to FHC, which with the Wildcats and Eagles is undefeated early in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White.
Tuesday – Kingsford (10-1) at Iron Mountain (9-0) – These neighbors are among a few leading the argument for best teams in the Upper Peninsula, and this is their first of two meetings with the second Feb. 13.
Friday – Belleville (7-3) at Dearborn (9-0) – Reigning co-champion Dearborn is joined by Belleville and Wayne Memorial among those undefeated early in Kensington Lakes Activities Association East play.
Saturday – East Lansing (9-0) at East Kentwood (5-2) – The host Falcons will finish up their Gottagetit Hoop Classic with arguably the most exciting matchup of the day and to close a week that includes first meetings with O-K Red challengers Grandville and Rockford.
Saturday – Warren Lincoln (7-1) vs. Grand Rapids Christian (7-0) at East Kentwood – This 7 p.m. game at the Gottagetit Classic rivals the above as the showcase game of the day, with the only loss between these two Lincoln’s to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s two weeks ago.
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PHOTOS (Top) Munising's Jack Dusseault (22) drives toward the basket while being defended by Ishpeming's Ethan Corp during the Mustangs’ 54-48 win Dec. 28. (Middle) Grandville’s Xander Sorokin (0) defends the lane as Grand Blanc’s Tommy Pickens makes his move during the Bulldogs’ 57-44 victory Jan. 6. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle photo by Terry Lyons.)