By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
If games are played as scheduled, this week will be a great appetizer for what’s on the way for Michigan high school basketball fans.
The weather isn’t exactly making it easy for the state’s boys teams to finish up their regular-season schedules. But the rewards are in full view now – league championships for some, league tournament titles as well, and for everyone a fresh start with the beginning of District play in two weeks.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Sterling Heights Stevenson 54, Roseville 45 – In the final game before the league tournament, the Titans avenged an earlier 10-point loss to Roseville and in doing so earned a shared Macomb Area Conference Red championship with the Panthers.
2. Mattawan 48, Kalamazoo Central 47 (OT) – This matched up the first-place teams from the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West and East, respectively, after Central finished first and Mattawan second in the former East configuration last season.
3. Belleville 89, Westland John Glenn 86 – A three-team race in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East might be down to just two with this Belleville win, setting up one of this week’s top matchups discussed below.
4. Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills 76, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 71 (3OT) – Kenowa Hills likely fell out of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title mix by losing to Jenison in its next game, but this win over Reeths-Puffer reset the top of the standings for another of this week’s most anticipated games.
5. Kalamazoo Hackett 69, Schoolcraft 61 – Hackett can clinch the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title with its next win after finishing a sweep of Schoolcraft, which hasn’t lost to anyone else this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
• Detroit Martin Luther King (15-2) – The Crusaders shared the Detroit Public School League Midtown championship with Cass Tech, their only losses this season to the Technicians in their first of two meetings and then a month ago to now-clinched Oakland Activities Association Red champion Clarkston. King could see Cass Tech a third time in this week’s PSL Tournament final – but first faces West-Town champion Renaissance in the semifinal Tuesday.
• Linden (15-1) – From 5-16 to 9-14 to 13-8 and now this season’s success, Linden has been building. Friday’s 48-35 win over 2018 Flint Metro League co-champ Flushing gave the Eagles a share of this season’s league title – its first conference championship since 1996.
• Harper Woods Chandler Park (14-0) – The Eagles are among three undefeated teams left in Division 2 and won the Charter School Conference title outright after sharing the championship last season. A 51-37 win over 2018 Class C champion Detroit Edison last week cemented Chandler Park’s status as a team to watch over the next month.
• River Rouge (15-1) – The Panthers have won 14 straight since suffering their only loss, by three to King on Dec. 1. River Rouge has clinched a share of the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue title, its third straight league championship and an anticipated first step as the team looks to build on last season’s Class B Semifinals appearance.
• Erie-Mason (12-2) – The Eagles clinched a share of the Lenawee County Athletic Association title Friday with an 80-52 win over reigning champ Hillsdale, and after finishing second to the Hornets last season. Erie-Mason has improved as well on last season’s overall 11-10 record, and with two more wins would tie its most for a season this decade.
• Unionville-Sebewaing (13-0) – The Patriots actually improved to 14-0 with a four-overtime win over Tri-Valley Conference West leader Saginaw Valley Lutheran on Monday. USA is one of six undefeated teams in Division 3 and atop the Greater Thumb Conference West standings as it works for a third straight perfect run through the league schedule.
• Adrian Lenawee Christian (11-3) – The Cougars do not play in a league, but should be intriguing once District play begins. Friday’s 13-point loss to Division 2 Michigan Center was a great game for postseason preparation – as were the other defeats against Division 3 contender Quincy and Ohio’s Toledo Christian. Ten of Lenawee Christian’s wins have come by double digits, with the single-digit victory a one-pointer over Division 1 Monroe.
• Pittsford (14-2) – The Wildcats can clinch the Southern Central Athletic Association East title with a win over second-place Camden-Frontier on Thursday, and after defeating two-loss Athens 64-50 on Friday. Since falling to Britton-Deerfield in the season opener, Pittsford’s only other loss came to still-unbeaten Bellevue.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Muskegon (12-3) at Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (14-2) – This could end up deciding the O-K Black title; Reeths-Puffer won the first meeting 63-59 in overtime, and the Big Reds are 8-0 since that heartbreaker.
Tuesday – Belleville (11-5) at Wayne Memorial (13-3) – The winner will clinch a share of the KLAA East title with only one more league game remaining for both teams.
Tuesday – Detroit Martin Luther King (15-2) vs. Detroit Renaissance (14-3) at Cass Tech – Renaissance finished a perfect run through the PSL West-Town and is seeking to make the league tournament final after falling by two in last season’s semi.
Friday – Williamston (16-1) at Haslett (11-3) – With Williamston arguably the Lansing area’s best boys team, Haslett has been forgotten a bit but can move into a first-place tie in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red if it can avenge a six-point January loss.
Saturday – River Rouge (15-1) at Benton Harbor (16-1) – Division 2 has 12 teams with one or fewer losses this season, and these two certainly are in the mix to meet again next month at Breslin Center with the championship on the line. Benton Harbor beat River Rouge 60-49 during last season’s Semifinals.
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PHOTO: Negaunee's Drew DuShane (23) drives to the basket as Ishpeming's Jacob Kugler (44) defends during Friday's 56-48 Miners win. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)