By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The holiday break across our state is over, and the drive toward March will click into a second gear as most teams this week jump into the heart of league play.
Today’s Breslin Bound – powered my MI Student Aid – takes a look at a number of contenders that made impressive strides over the last three weeks while classes were out of session, plus gets us back into the regular swing with a look at five games of special note coming up.
These reports are based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com – to offer corrections, email me at [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of holiday break’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit East English 80, Clarkston 71 – East English’s David DeJulius scored 42 points at North Farmington’s Holiday Extravaganza as his team handed reigning Class A champion Clarkston its only loss this season.
2. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 72, Wyoming Godwin Heights 68 (OT) – After two losses to open this season, Forest Hills Central has strung together three nice wins with this one over the previously-unbeaten Wolverines at Cornerstone’s tournament the most impressive.
3. Ann Arbor Skyline 74, Belleville 60 – Skyline emerged from a tough holiday schedule still undefeated and having handed possible Class A contender Belleville its third loss.
4. Bridgeport 68, Frankenmuth 54 – The first round between these Class B powers went Bridgeport’s way after last season’s split led to the rivals sharing the Tri-Valley Conference East title while finishing a combined 40-6 overall.
5. River Rouge 52, West Bloomfield 50 (OT) – The Panthers’ perfect start has included two overtime wins including this one over a Lakers team that has two two-point losses and made the Class A Semifinals a year ago.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Grand Haven (7-1) – The Buccaneers also opened 7-1 last season on the way to finishing 18-5, but this start is more impressive. The only loss was by three in double overtime to Spring Lake, which won 19 games last season. And the wins have included Grand Haven’s first over Muskegon since 2012.
Hazel Park (7-0) – There may not be another team that has started more impressively. Coming off 15-8 last season, the Vikings have double-digit wins against Class A powers Detroit East English and U-D Jesuit, an overtime win over Class B standout Detroit Henry Ford and a six-point win over possible Class C contenders Detroit Edison Public School Academy and Pershing (plus another double-digit win over Loyola).
Hillsdale (6-1) – Since opening with a loss to Hanover-Horton, Hillsdale has been rolling. The Hornets followed up a Pat Patterson Tournament championship at Hillsdale College with a 61-44 revenge victory over Onsted – which abruptly ended Hillsdale’s 2016-17 at 21-1 with an upset during last year’s District.
Otsego (5-1) – A slow start last season contributed to an 11-11 finish, but the outlook is better this winter. Otsego’s only loss was to Dowagiac by six during the first week, and the Bulldogs closed December by handing Marshall its only defeat, 80-60.
Detroit Edison Public School Academy (3-3) – DEPSA plays only a few schools its size as part of the Detroit Public School League, and similar experience paid off with a run to the MHSAA Semifinals last season. The wins this winter are over Belleville, Saginaw Arthur Hill and Southfield Christian, and the losses just as impressively have come against U-D Jesuit, Detroit Martin Luther King and Hazel Park.
Kalamazoo Hackett (7-0) – The Irish are another team surely fueled by an early exit last season; they were 19-1 when they fell to Kalamazoo Christian in their first District game. Hackett has a four-point win over reigning Class D runner-up Buckley and gets Christian for the first time this season Friday.
Hillman (6-0) – An MHSAA quarterfinalist last season, Hillman is up to its usual level of regular-season dominance. The Tigers have won all of their games by at least 14 points, with an 18-pointer over Cedarville (5-2) looking like the best so far.
Kingston (6-0) – The Cardinals are halfway to equaling last season’s 12-9 finish and survived their only single-digit scare to win by six over Sandusky on Dec. 20. Kingston followed that with 13 and 28-point wins to claim the Brown City Invitational title.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Maple City Glen Lake (4-0) at Buckley (2-2) – Reigning Northwest Conference champion Buckley is in third starting the week but gets the two first-place teams back-to-back, Glen Lake followed by also-undefeated Frankfort on Thursday.
Friday – Detroit East English (5-2) at Detroit Edison PSA (3-3) – The PSL East Division 1 is loaded with potential statewide contenders, and these are two with high hopes.
Friday – Canton (7-0) at Wayne Memorial (5-1) – These two lead the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Black, with Wayne’s opening loss to Clarkston the only defeat between them.
Friday – Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (6-0) at Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (5-1) – This will be a major test for the Grand Rapids area’s small-school powers.
Friday – Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (6-1) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (5-2) – This should prove key again as the Eaglets chase the reigning Detroit Catholic League Central champ Cubs.
PHOTO: Bridgeport applies defensive pressure during its win over rival Frankenmuth on Friday. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)