By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
In less than three weeks, 16 boys basketball teams will converge on Michigan State University’s Breslin Center to determine four MHSAA titles.
Our final winter tournament begins tonight as boys hoops Districts tip off all over the state. Switching up the format a bit for our Breslin Bound reports – powered by MI Student Aid – we look below as usual at some of the most eye-catching results from last week, but also three Districts in each class shaping up as the most attention-grabbing heading into our first round.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. New Haven 108, Flint Beecher 104 (3 OT) – It would be hard to find a more exciting regular-season finale than this one between Class B and C favorites; Beecher’s Malik Ellison scored 63 points in trying to reverse the eventual outcome.
2. Grand Rapids Christian 72, Wyoming Godwin Heights 58 – As it’s often said, someone had to lose, and Christian moved on to eventually finish 20-0 while dealing Godwin Heights its only loss this season. The Eagles got their scare Thursday with an overtime two-point win over Kalamazoo Central.
3. Wayne Memorial 47, Walled Lake Central 44 – Wayne closed a nail-biting Kensington Lakes Activities Association Tournament run with this championship game win, its second in three playoff games by three points.
4. Dollar Bay 54, Painesdale-Jeffers 46 – With a loss to the second-place Jets, Dollar Bay still would’ve clinched the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country title, reportedly its first championship since 1994, but this capped a perfect league run.
5. Morley Stanwood, 59, Big Rapids 56 – The champions of the Central State Activities Association Silver and Gold faced off, with the Silver title winner emerging victorious in this unofficial league final.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Grosse Pointe South
Detroit Cass Tech (16-4), Detroit East English (13-5), Detroit Martin Luther King (15-4), Detroit Western International (8-11), Grosse Pointe South (10-10), Hamtramck (13-5).
This could be a remix of the Detroit Public School League Tournament, where Cass Tech beat East English in the semifinal 73-71 and then King in the championship game 59-47. That came after Cass Tech split with Western during the league regular season – and King and East English split this winter as well.
Lansing Everett (at Don Johnson Fieldhouse)
DeWitt (11-9), East Lansing (20-0), Grand Ledge (7-13), Lansing Everett (12-8), Lansing Waverly (13-7).
East Lansing would look to be the strong favorite, and rightfully so especially coming out of the same league as Grand Ledge and Everett. But the Trojans also were undefeated heading into the postseason last winter and were upset in the Regional by Everett, which went on to make the Class A Semifinals.
Walled Lake Western
Milford (12-8), Walled Lake Central (14-6), Walled Lake Northern (14-6), Walled Lake Western (14-6), White Lake Lakeland (7-13).
Similar to above in the PSL, this could be a redo of the KLAA North race, won by Western by a game over co-runners-up Central and Northern, which both split with Western in league play. Central ended up winning the Lakes tournament championship with a five-point win over Western, which had beaten Northern by one in the semifinals.
Birch Run (7-13), Bridgeport (18-2), Carrollton (10-10), Frankenmuth (18-2), Saginaw Swan Valley (14-6).
The Tri-Valley East championship was split by the host Bearcats and Frankenmuth, with Bridgeport winning their first meeting by 10 and the Eagles winning the second also by 10. Frankenmuth lost only once more over its final 19 regular-season games – in fact, both TVC East champs also lost to Flint Hamady. Swan Valley and Carrollton were third and fourth, respectively, in the TVC Central, and the winner of their opener should provide a challenge.
Algonac (2-18), Armada (9-11), Marine City (3-15), Marysville (14-6), New Haven (19-1), Richmond (16-4), St. Clair (14-6).
New Haven won the Macomb Area Conference Blue title and lost this season only to 2016 Class A semifinalist Macomb Dakota, by six in December. Richmond also is formidable after finishing second in the Blue Water Area Conference but with two painful losses by a combined three points at the end of February that cost the Blue Devils the league title. Marysville was co-league champion in the MAC Silver and runner-up in the MAC Silver-Bronze Tournament.
Adrian (9-11), Brooklyn Columbia Central (10-10), Chelsea (13-7), Hillsdale (20-0), Onsted (15-5), Tecumseh (2-18).
Hillsdale won the Lenawee County Athletic Association with a sweep of Onsted, the first victory in double overtime and the second by only two points. The Wildcats were District champs a year ago. Chelsea finished only fourth in the Southeastern Conference White, but four of six teams in that league won at least 11 games during the regular season, and the Bulldogs are 9-4 since Jan. 7.
Bangor (0-20), Bloomingdale (14-6), Gobles (14-6), Hartford (9-11), Kalamazoo Christian (13-7), Kalamazoo Hackett (19-1).
Rivals Hackett and Christian would meet in a District Semifinal after Hackett swept the series with three and six-point (in overtime) wins on the way to a shared Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title. Hackett reached the Quarterfinals a year ago. The host Cardinals won the SAC Central after going only 2-18 last season. And Gobles enters as the fourth-place finisher out of the strong SAC Lakeshore.
Burton Atherton (13-7), Burton Bendle (14-6), Burton Bentley (9-11), Flint Beecher (15-5), Flint Hamady (14-6), Montrose (11-9), New Lothrop (13-7).
Considering Flint Beecher has won back-to-back Class C championships and four of the last five, it’s easy to lean toward the Buccaneers heavy this week. But this District is stacked with successful teams – as noted above, Hamady handed Class B hopefuls Bridgeport and Frankenmuth losses and fell to Beecher by only four in their second meeting Feb. 3. All of Beecher’s defeats this season came against Class A or B opponents.
Concord (15-5), East Jackson (7-13), Hanover-Horton (17-3), Jackson Lumen Christi (3-17), Michigan Center (20-0), Napoleon (15-5), Vandercook Lake (12-8).
Hanover-Horton has won 15 straight District titles, the longest streak in Michigan, but will have plenty of challenges beginning tonight against Vandercook Lake. Michigan Center is perfect for the regular season reportedly for the first time – and beat Hanover-Horton by 19 and 13 this winter. Even then, Michigan Center would have to get through whichever wins between Napoleon and Concord just to reach the championship game.
Baraga (0-20), Chassell (11-9), Dollar Bay (16-4), Lake Linden-Hubbell (6-14), Ontonagon (12-8), Painesdale-Jeffers (16-4)
With two-time reigning Class D champ Powers North Central roaming a similarly-stacked District at Stephenson, this might be the most competitive in the Upper Peninsula this week. Dollar Bay and Painesdale-Jeffers would meet in a Semifinal – as noted above, Dollar Bay won the Copper Country title this season with victories of seven and eight over the Jets. The Bays did lose to Ontonagon at the start of January (and win the rematch in February), and play them first in an opener tonight.
Bear Lake (14-6), Brethren (11-9), Buckley (20-0), Fife Lake Forest Area (11-9), Mesick (1-18), Onekama (9-11).
Buckley, of course, would be considered the favorite and won a District title a year ago. But Bear Lake, Brethren and Forest Area all have winning records and are on the other side of the bracket, and will try to take advantage of any possible letdown. Bear Lake finished second in the West Michigan D League.
Byron Center Zion Christian
Byron Center Zion Christian (12-8), Holland Calvary (14-6), Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (13-6), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (12-8)
The Alliance League title was shared by Calvary and Potter’s House, with Zion Christian a close third only a game back – but Tri-unity Christian plays in the league only for girls basketball, not boys. The Defenders own an 11-point win over Potter’s House from the start of the season and a 10-pointer over Calvary two weeks ago, and took most of its losses from schools in the other three classes. They made the Class D Semifinals in 2016.
PHOTO: A Flint Beecher player deflects a Corunna shot during their matchup earlier this season. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)