By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Coaches often talk about getting hot at the right time – in other words, playing their best basketball on the eve of when it counts most.
This is that time – and the teams below are among those carrying some nice momentum into the final week of the regular season with the start of the MHSAA Tournament approaching.
Auburn Hills Avondale (15-3) – The Yellow Jackets have won nine straight since falling to Oakland Activities Association Blue co-leader West Bloomfield on Jan. 23, beating the Lakers by one Feb. 17 and then Oxford by one Friday to keep pace atop the standings.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (17-3) – The Big Reds closed the regular season with five straight wins to finish second in the Macomb Area Conference Red and finish five wins better than a year ago with the postseason still to play.
Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (17-3) – The Bengals clinched the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title over four others with at least 10 wins this winter. Two of the losses were to teams a combined 35-4 – Lansing Everett and Goodrich.
Stevensville Lakeshore (17-2) – The Lancers own a one-win lead in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West with one game to play and after going an uncharacteristic 10-12 a season ago. Lakeshore split this winter with second-place Benton Harbor, last season’s Class B runner-up.
Big Rapids (14-5) – The Cardinals weathered a three-game losing streak in mid-January to hold on for a share of the Central State Activities Association Gold championship, and will win it outright if second-place Newaygo falls in its league finale. Big Rapids’ most recent four losses were by a combined nine points.
Frankenmuth (14-4) – The Eagles avenged an early three-point loss to rival Millington by beating the Cardinals 51-35 on Friday to pull into first place in the Tri-Valley Conference East – and they can clinch the title outright against eighth-place Otisville-LakeVille on Thursday. Four TVC East teams have won at least 14 games.
Lakeview (15-4) – Despite a loss to second-place Kent City on Feb. 20, Lakeview came back to clinch the CSAA Silver championship with a 72-57 win over Hesperia on Friday. The Wildcats also won the CSAA last season before the league split into divisions for 2014-15.
Williamston (16-4) – The Hornets closed the regular season with a 65-58 win over rival Lansing Catholic, creating a shared Capital Area Activities Conference White championship between the two after Lansing Catholic had won the first meeting Jan. 23. Williamston has won seven straight.
Carney-Nadeau (12-6) – The Wolves can’t catch Class D contender Powers North Central in the Skyline Central Conference West, but they did win five straight before falling to Crystal Falls Forest Park in overtime Friday. Forest Park also is Class D; Carney-Nadeau opted to play up in Class C this season.
Hanover-Horton (18-1) – Only one-loss Jackson Lumen Christi, in December, has been able to edge Hanover-Horton, which clinched the Cascades Conference title with a 61-54 win over third-place Michigan Center last week. The Comets also won the league in 2013-14.
Ithaca (17-2) – The Yellowjackets have been chasing Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary in the TVC West since falling to MLS on Jan 16, but regained a share of first place with a 52-49 win in their rematch Friday. Ithaca has won 11 straight and finishes with winless Merrill.
Southfield Christian (15-3) – The three-time reigning Class D champions are in Class C this season and having similar success during the regular season; the Eagles clinched the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue title last week, and among the few missteps are impressive losses by one to Detroit Pershing and two to Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (16-3) – Staying in the MIAC Blue, Inter-City Baptist’s only league losses were to Southfield Christian – and the only other defeat came to Class A Allen Park on the first Friday of the season. The Chargers have 10 wins against opponents from other classes.
Baldwin (14-4) – The Panthers have won nine straight and can clinch a share of the West Michigan D League title with two more this week; they trail Onekama by a win, but Onekama has only one league game remaining. Baldwin also beat Class B Paw Paw (12-7) during the current streak.
Bellevue (14-5) – The Broncos have a slim chance at sharing the Southern Central Athletic Association West title, but can eclipse last season’s win total with one more this week and have earned at least 14 victories for the third straight season despite opening 6-4.
Jackson Christian (12-6) – The Royals are among those who dealt Bellevue an early loss, and they long ago clinched the SCAA Central title. Jackson Christian finishes this week against Battle Creek St. Philip and then opens with the Tigers in next week’s District.
PHOTO: Ithaca's 60-51 win over Freeland on Jan. 30 was part of a current 11-game winning streak. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)