By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Whether it was last week’s Upper Peninsula matchup of statewide Division 3 contenders or the Saturday night showcase of recent MHSAA Finals champions, this boys basketball season at the start of February already has taken on a tournament-time atmosphere.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Benton Harbor 73, Ypsilanti Lincoln 51 – The marquee matchup of the Grand Rapids Redhawk Classic saw the Tigers move up to No. 5 in Division 2 MPR with this win over the reigning Division 1 champion Lincoln, which was No. 1 in Division 1 last week but fell to No. 6.
2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 65, Hudsonville 47 – The Eaglets took back the top spot in Division 1 MPR by handing Hudsonville its first loss, also at the Redhawk Classic.
3. Iron Mountain 69, Negaunee 51 – A full house watched the unbeaten Mountaineers hand the Miners their first loss; they meet again in the regular-season finale March 5.
4. Erie Mason 70, Onsted 67 (2 OT) – The Eagles, with their lone Lenawee County Athletic Association loss by a basket to Blissfield nine days prior, moved back into a tie for first with this win over another co-leader.
5. Muskegon 77, Saginaw 74 – The Big Reds remain unbeaten against in-state competition with this Redhawk Classic nail-biter their third victory by three points or fewer this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Clarkston (10-1) The cast mostly has changed since the Wolves’ back-to-back Class A titles in 2017 and 2018, but second-year coach Tim Wasilk has Clarkston on a nine-game winning streak and atop the Oakland Activities Association Red standings with recent wins over second-place Ferndale and third-place (tied) North Farmington and West Bloomfield. The team’s only loss was to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Dec. 20; Clarkston also owns wins over Detroit Martin Luther King and Flint Carman-Ainsworth.
Flint Southwestern (10-1) The Jaguars are riding a 10-game winning streak after winning a combined seven games over the last two seasons. Their lone loss this winter was to Burton Bendle (10-2) in the season opener, and they handed Croswell-Lexington its only defeat, 53-50, on Dec. 27. Another major test comes tonight against undefeated Bridgeport, and Flint Beecher (11-1) also will provide a valuable measuring stick Feb. 18.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-1) A six-point loss Dec. 17 to still-undefeated Grand Rapids Christian is all that’s kept GRCC from perfect as well this winter – and the Cougars actually entered this week with the top MPR in Division 2, two spots ahead of the Eagles. That’s a credit to GRCC’s body of work, which includes handing the only defeats to Otsego (12-1) and River Rouge (12-1) and nine wins total over teams with records above .500. Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather Classic matchup with Benton Harbor will be the game of the week in this state.
Goodrich (11-1) The Martians’ 46-44 win over Flint Metro League Stripes leader Linden last week arguably was their most impressive of the season, although it also followed up a 45-point win over Clio (11-2). Goodrich leads the Metro League Stars division by two games over the Mustangs and see them again Feb. 28. The Martians’ only loss was a close one, 61-58 in overtime to Carman-Ainsworth (8-4) on Jan. 21.
Detroit Edison (7-3) The Pioneers’ position atop Division 3 MPR is a nod to its impressive schedule and wins over Waterford Mott (10-2) and Detroit Douglass (12-3). Division 1 Clarkston and Detroit Martin Luther King are among opponents coming up, but Edison is plenty familiar with the big powers after losing just 53-50 to still-unbeaten Ann Arbor Huron and 75-58 to Ypsilanti Lincoln. That third defeat came Dec. 16 against reigning Division 4 champion Southfield Christian, 61-52.
Schoolcraft (12-0) The Eagles are making a run at a second-straight season with at least 20 wins, with only a 58-56 overtime victory over Hopkins in the season opener finishing closer than 14 points. Schoolcraft sits atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley standings, two games ahead of second-place Kalamazoo Christian thanks in part to a 51-37 victory Jan. 10. The Eagles also own a win over reigning league champion Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep, 53-26 on Jan. 7
Munising (12-1) The Mustangs are contending with Bark River-Harris atop the Skyline Central Conference Large schools division and defeated Small schools leader Powers North Central 67-31 to close last week. Munising is seeking a fourth-straight league title and hosts Bark River-Harris tonight. The Mustangs also handed Pickford its only loss, 57-47 on Dec. 28, and its only defeat came in a low-scoring 35-20 matchup with Crystal Falls Forest Park on Jan. 16.
Pickford (9-1) Pickford has matched last season’s success after finishing 2018-19 at 9-11. The Panthers have only the loss to Munising during an otherwise unbeaten run. They’ve handed defeats to three nine-win teams – Dearborn Advanced Tech, Rudyard and Pellston – and the 55-54 victory over Advanced Tech was one of two one-pointers Pickford has held on to claim this winter.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Portage Central (10-0) at Kalamazoo Central (7-3) – The leaders of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West and East, respectively, face off.
Tuesday – Flint Southwestern (10-1) at Bridgeport (12-0) – This kicks off a week for the Bearcats that also will include games against Unionville-Sebewaing (9-1) and Frankenmuth (9-1).
Wednesday – Beaverton (8-2) at Sanford Meridian (10-2) – The co-leaders in the Jack Pine Conference will meet a second time after Beaverton won the first 40-38 on Dec. 17.
Saturday – Benton Harbor (11-1) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (11-1) at Ottawa Hills – As noted above, this is the game of the week statewide and a potential preview of a playoff showdown.
Saturday – Grand Blanc (10-3) at Muskegon (10-1) – This also could foreshadow a postseason matchup as these are two of the best in Division 1.
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PHOTO: Iron Mountain's Foster Wonders drives to the basket while being defended by Negaunee's Drew Lindberg (23), Will Luke (14), and Chas Kumpula (5) near the end of the second quarter of last week’s matchup. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.
Below is this week's segment – Over the Back - Listen
Did you know there is no such thing as “over the back” in basketball? If two players are going for a rebound and the player behind another player is able to grab it over the top of the player in front – that’s not necessarily a foul. He or she did not go over the back.
The player behind another player may have committed a foul such as bumping the player in front, or pushing that player – gaining an advantage to grab the rebound – but that would be whistled for a push or grab. Not over the back.
A taller player or player who can jump higher grabbing a rebound is not a foul. It’s only a foul if they create an advantage by pushing, bumping, or any other kind of illegal contact while in the process of going for a rebound. Fans yell over the back all the time, but an official will never call a foul for going over the back.
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End Zone - Listen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change - Listen