We’re another step closer to starting the MHSAA Tournament in girls basketball, and we don’t have many steps left as the regular season draws to a close.
The formula for determining which teams will be placed on which lines was released today. This week’s games will be the last before the top two seeds in every District are determined and those brackets filled in Sunday.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Hudsonville 72, Rockford 62 The Eagles (14-2) finished a regular-season sweep of the Rams (14-2) to gain a two-game advantage in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red with four league games to play.
2. Frankenmuth 65, Saginaw Swan Valley 37 The Eagles (10-0) ran their league winning streak to 25 and pulled two victories from clinching a repeat in the Tri-Valley Conference 8 as Swan Valley (14-3) fell back into a tie for second.
3. Williamston 37, Haslett 33 The Hornets (12-6) can this week claim a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Red title after avenging a Jan. 6 loss to the second-place Vikings (11-4), who also have only one loss in the league but more games left to play.
4. Hartland 48, Howell 36 The Eagles (15-1) avenged their only loss of the season to create a tie atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West with the Highlanders (12-4).
5. Sparta 57, Belding 33 The Spartans (13-2) pulled ahead by half a game to lead the the O-K Silver, but second-place Belding (13-2) will hope to make up ground in tonight’s rematch.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Dexter (14-2) The Dreadnaughts will finish with at least a share of the Southeastern Conference Red title and likely more with a three-game lead and three league games to play. They moved to the Red after finishing second in the SEC White last season and sharing that league’s championship in 2019-20. After opening with a loss at Salem, Dexter has been nearly unstoppable with its only other defeat to Division 2 contender Redford Westfield Prep (16-1), 66-59 on Jan. 20. The Dreadnaughts have downed Temperance Bedford (11-4) twice and Saline (13-3) once, and see the latter and old rival Chelsea (14-2) during the final week of the regular season.
East Lansing (11-4) The Trojans clinched a share of their seventh-straight CAAC Blue championship, and that doesn’t include what could’ve been during last season’s 16-1 run to the Division 1 Quarterfinals when league standings weren’t kept because of the abbreviated schedule. There are a few more defeats this winter, but they came against Division 2 powers Detroit Edison (7-2) and Portland (15-1) and also-Division 1 contenders Parma Western (15-1) and Haslett (11-4). The Trojans have handed pairs of losses to DeWitt (11-3) and Holt (11-4) with wins over Williamston (12-6) and Muskegon (10-5) also helping push them into the No. 3 spot in Division 1 MPR.
Clawson (14-2) A win tonight over Warren Woods-Tower will lock up a share of the Macomb Area Conference Silver title after Clawson won it outright the last two seasons. The Trojans showed how much difference a few weeks can make, falling to league co-leader St. Clair Shores South Lake (15-3) by 22 on Jan. 21 but winning the rematch 53-51 last Tuesday. The team’s only other loss was to Division 3 contender Madison Heights Bishop Foley (12-1), and Clawson has a pair of victories of Madison Heights Lamphere (11-5) and close one over a league champ in New Haven (11-4).
Sault Ste. Marie (13-4) The Blue Devils are likely to finish second to rival St. Ignace in the Straits Area Conference, but other intriguing possibilities are ahead for a team that’s tested against the best of the Upper Peninsula with some solid downstate games in the memory bank as well. Sault Ste. Marie split the season series with the Saints (14-2) and is 6-0 against Big North Conference opponents with a win over league leader Petoskey (10-6) and two apiece against second-place Alpena (10-7) and Gaylord (10-6). The Blue Devils also have defeated Great Northern Conference leader Marquette, with other losses to Division 1 DeWitt (11-3) and Muskegon Mona Shores (14-2).
St. Ignace (14-2) The Saints are 11-0 during calendar year 2022, avenging an early 22-point loss to Sault Ste. Marie with a 47-36 win Feb. 4 to move into first alone in the Straits Area Conference after finishing league runner-up last winter. Always one to schedule tough, St. Ignace’s only other defeat came to Division 1 Port Huron (11-6), and the Saints are up to No. 3 in Division 3 MPR thanks in part to wins over Mackinaw City (16-1), Pickford (12-2) twice, Engadine (10-5) and Gaylord. Only Pickford and Gaylord have come within single digits since the new year began.
Schoolcraft (14-1) After falling to Division 4 contender Plymouth Christian Academy in the season opener, Schoolcraft is unbeaten and rarely challenged. A five-point win over Vicksburg (10-6) on Dec. 7 is the last time the Eagles have played a single-digit game, and that’s included pairs of matchups with Kalamazoo Christian (13-4) and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep (11-6). They defeated both last week on the way to clinching the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title outright and moving into No. 5 in Division 3 MPR. A Jan. 25 win over Buchanan (14-3) also is a booster for a team that finished second in its league a year ago but surged all the way to the Quarterfinals.
Fowler (13-2) This winter has worked out almost as well as the reigning Division 4 champion could have wanted, save for its games against one opponent – Portland St. Patrick, which has won both regular-season meetings to all but lock up the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title. But the Eagles should get another opportunity against the Shamrocks in the District, and they have plenty to boast with wins over Saginaw Nouvel (12-3), Plymouth Christian (14-3) and Stockbridge (12-5) and a nice test this week against reigning Division 2 champion Portland (15-1). They also have all-state sisters Mia and Emma Riley still leading the way after scoring 34 of the team’s 54 points in last season’s Final.
Saginaw Nouvel (12-3) A 1-3 start against some tough competition no doubt vaulted Nouvel into its 11-game winning streak that has the Panthers a half-game ahead of the field in the TVC 10 and No. 8 in Division 4 MPR. Nouvel avenged its lone league loss, in December in overtime to Standish-Sterling (13-3), with a 55-33 victory Feb. 1. The Panthers also have wins over Hemlock (12-3), Saginaw Valley Lutheran (10-6), and Midland Bullock Creek (10-6) twice. Nouvel had finished second to Standish in the TVC 10 a year ago before reaching the Division 4 Quarterfinals.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Midland Dow (15-1) at Flushing (15-2) – This is a rematch of a 2021 Division 1 Regional Final, won by Dow by 10 as the Chargers eventually reached the Semifinals at Breslin Center.
Thursday – Hart (14-2) at Montague (13-3) – Hart won the first meeting 37-36 on Jan. 11 and can clinch a share of the West Michigan Conference title, but a Montague victory would set up the likely possibility of a shared championship.
Thursday – McBain (15-2) at Lake City (16-1) – As long as both win their Tuesday games, this will be a winner-take-all for the Highland Conference championship and with Lake City having won the first meeting 44-42 on Jan. 18.
Thursday – Harbor Springs (16-1) at Elk Rapids (14-2) – Elk Rapids has a half-game lead on Harbor Springs in the Lake Michigan Conference, but also must go through third-place Traverse City St. Francis on Tuesday.
Thursday – Detroit Edison (7-2) at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (13-1) – This was previously scheduled for last week but would be one of the biggest games statewide no matter when it would be played.
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PHOTO Frankenmuth’s Clare Conzelmann (10) moves the ball around the arc during last week’s win over Saginaw Swan Valley. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
The St. Ignace girls basketball teams is off to a 2-0 start – and great starts and finishes certainly have been the norm over the last 25 seasons under the leadership of head coach Dorene Ingalls and her assistant, and husband, Doug.
Tuesday’s season-opening win over Brimley made Dorene Ingalls 500-94 beginning her 25th season guiding the program – now 501-94 after Thursday’s 63-27 victory over Boyne City. She entered this season 16th on the state list for most girls basketball coaching victories, and seventh among active coaches.
For all 501 wins, Doug Ingalls has been by her side as an assistant within the program – while also serving as boys varsity basketball coach from 1992-2008, 2011-16 and again currently in the fifth season of his latest tenure. His Saints also have opened 2-0, and he has a 355-175 record leading the boys program.
The Ingalls have led the girls program to five MHSAA Finals championships, most recently in Class D in 2015, and four runner-up finishes, most recently in Division 4 in 2019.
Dorene Ingalls received the MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Award in 2021.
PHOTOS (Top) Doug and Dorene Ingalls, far left and right, respectively, take a photo with 2003 Miss Basketball Krista Clement. (Middle) Dorene and Doug Ingalls. (Photos by David Latva.)