By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Two weeks remain in the MHSAA boys basketball season. And after last week's District tournaments, some contenders have survived what may end up their scariest game of a championship run – while others remain alive that probably many didn't expect.
Below are four District champs from each class who especially stuck out last week.
Bloomfield Hills Lahser (17-6) – The Oakland Activities Association Blue co-champ claimed a District title as well with a 55-52 win over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in last week’s championship game.
Detroit Pershing (23-0) – The Doughboys had beaten Detroit Cass Tech by 19 in the Detroit Public School League tournament final only three weeks before, but had to survive a 78-76 thriller in the rematch for the District title.
Saginaw (21-3) – The reigning Class A champion is still alive after winning perhaps the biggest game in the state Friday. The Trojans, who split with rival Saginaw Arthur Hill during the regular season, won the tie-breaker 86-76 in the District Final.
Ypsilanti (18-4) – Avenged a nine-point loss to Ann Arbor Pioneer from only a month ago by beating Pioneer 66-43 in the opener, and then eliminated Skyline and Huron en route to a sweep of the Phoenix’s Class A neighbors.
Bay City John Glenn (12-11) – The Bobcats lost twice to Standish-Sterling during the regular season, including by 18 on Feb. 22. But they avenged those losses in the District opener and then edged Essexville-Garber 51-50 in overtime to win the title.
Flint Powers Catholic (12-11) – A 3-8 start to this season wasn't pretty, and although Powers battled back it still entered last week with a sub-.500 record. But two and three-point wins over Flint Northwestern and Millington, respectively, kept the Chargers alive and put them on the plus side.
Saginaw Swan Valley (12-11) – The Vikings were 2-6 over the last eight games heading into the District tournament. But their 56-37 win over then 14-7 Bridgeport in the Final was at least a slight upset.
Sparta (17-5) – The Spartans finished a solid second in the O-K Blue this winter and then survived a 61-59 test against Fremont in last week’s championship game to move on.
Baldwin (18-4) – Came close twice to beating West Michigan D League champion Manistee Catholic Central, but fell once by three in overtime and in their second meeting by eight. That surely made a 38-35 District Final win over MCC that much better.
Harbor Beach (22-1) – Coming off the football MHSAA championship in the fall, the Pirates just keep cruising with only a loss to Marlette momentarily stopping them this winter. Harbor Beach outlasted Unionville-Sebewaing 61-60 in the District Final.
Montrose (18-5) – The Rams finished only third in the Genesee Area Conference Blue, but beat formerly 17-5 Reese 67-52 in the District championship game.
White Pigeon (14-8) – It’s amazing how much of a difference six weeks can make. White Pigeon lost to Cassopolis by 30 on Jan. 18, but won the rematch by 15 in the District opener and survived Decatur 44-41 in the championship game.
Bloomfield Hills Roeper (8-14) – Roeper closed the regular season with a 1-8 run, so it was tough to expect a District title. But the Roughriders prevailed by beating then 12-8 Waterford Our Lady 51-44 in the championship game.
Covert (16-6) – The Bulldogs are hardly strangers to Breslin Center, and like the teams that had success in the past this Covert team took its losses against much larger opponents this season. Back in Class D, it won three games by a total of 40 points last week.
Fowler (13-9) – The Eagles finished three wins behind Fulton for fourth place in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference. But after being swept by the Pirates during the regular season, Fowler won the most significant matchup of the three, 65-53 in the District Final.
Hillman (16-5) – The Tigers have improved from 12 to 13 to 16 wins over the last three seasons and won last week’s games by a combined 31 points.
PHOTO: Detroit Pershing players celebrate last week's Class A District Final win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
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.
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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.)