By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A handful of the 16 teams we've glanced at during this week's first Breslin Bound report of the 2014-15 boys season got off the slow starts a year ago.
They aren't making that mistake again.
Each week, we’ll look at four teams from each class that stuck out over the previous seven days or the season to that point as we point toward the start of the MHSAA District tournaments March 9.
For schedules of each day’s games statewide and results as we receive them, plus links to each team’s full schedule, results and league standings, click here – and please help us by filling in missing scores or emailing them to [email protected].
Ann Arbor Skyline (2-0) – The Eagles came back from a 1-3 start last season to make the Class A Quarterfinals, and that’s carried into this winter as they opened by beating Salem 62-56 and then reigning Class D runner-up Adrian Lenawee Christian 57-49.
Canton (2-0) – The Chiefs were solid last season with 15 wins, but a win over Detroit Country Day (54-49 on Friday) generally is a sign a team is capable of bigger things.
Detroit Western International (2-0) – The Cowboys never recovered from a 1-6 start last season in finishing 4-14, but got a jump on this winter opening with a 64-36 win over Chicago Marshall at the Derrick Coleman Classic and following with a 69-57 victory over Saginaw Arthur Hill at the Horatio Williams Classic.
North Farmington (2-0) – The Raiders also got off to a big start in 2013-14 with seven straight wins, and are on the way again after two big wins last week – by 41 over Detroit Collegiate Prep and then 28 over reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian.
Battle Creek Pennfield (2-0) – The Panthers also were among those who started slowly at 1-3 a year ago; last week’s successful run included a 14-point win over rival Olivet.
Escanaba (2-0) – They Eskymos have improved from five to eight to 17 wins over the last three seasons, respectively, and a 52-50 opening-night win over last season Class C semifinalist Negaunee could be a sign of another jump to come this winter.
Freeland (2-0) – The Falcons’ .500 season a year ago started with a 31-point loss to Carrollton on opening night; a year later, Freeland opened with a 63-47 win over the Cavaliers and a 48-pointer over Pinconning.
Southfield Bradford (3-0) – The Bulldogs won 19 games last season, and opened their return to Class B this winter with three wins including 57-44 over annual power Detroit Douglass, a Class B semifinalist in 2013-14.
Blissfield (2-1) – The Royals’ positive start not only provided a serious dent toward surpassing last season’s seven wins, but included a 61-48 victory over Ottawa Lake Whiteford, which beat Blissfield by 22 on opening night of 2013-14.
East Jackson (2-0) – The Trojans went from 17 wins in 2012-13 to two a year ago, but have at least equaled that latter total thanks to a one-point victory over Brooklyn Columbia Central and a seven-pointer against Whitmore Lake.
Houghton Lake (1-0) – The Bobcats didn’t win last season until January and only four times total, so they’re surely happy to get off on a winning foot with two more Jack Pine Conference opponents on the schedule before the new year.
Vassar (2-0) – The Vulcans opened last season with a pair of losses but finished a solid 13-8; they avenged one of those defeats by beating a strong Marlette team 55-53 on Wednesday.
Marcellus Howardsville Christian (2-1) – The Eagles have had a nice run over the last few seasons and appear off on another, coming back after an opening night loss to Centreville to win the St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran Tip-Off with a 55-10 win over Watervliet Grace Christian and a 71-40 victory over the tournament host.
Mendon (2-0) – The Tigers celebrated their return to Class D last week with a 58-53 win over 2013-14 quarterfinalist Battle Creek St. Philip and then a Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference East-opening win over White Pigeon.
Rudyard (2-0) – The Bulldogs doubled their wins from 2012-13 to 2013-14; they may not be able to do that this winter coming off 13 victories, but got off to a quick start with 59 and 28-point wins last week.
Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (1-1) – Sure, Potter’s House did lose its second game last week, in overtime to annual Class D power Tri-unity Christian (which Potter’s House beat in a District Semifinal last season). But more impressively, the Pumas opened with a 47-46 win over reigning Class C runner-up Pewamo-Westphalia.
PHOTO: River Rouge edged Detroit Cass Tech at the Horatio Williams Classic in one of the top matchups of the first weekend of boys basketball season. (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.)