We’re two weeks and three wins from sending 16 teams to the Breslin Center.
And if District week was an indication, the storybook moments will continue to be plentiful as we surge toward the final rounds of this year’s MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament.
We give a glance at some of last week's highlights below, and look forward to many more with three Regionals in each division that could be especially intriguing this week. Once again, everything else you could want to know about tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Girls Basketball page. To watch any of several games online, visit the NFHS Network.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Goodrich 54, Lake Fenton 53 The Martians (21-3) had fallen to previously-undefeated Flint Metro League Stars rival Lake Fenton by six, 26 and three over the final five weeks of the regular season, but got past the Blue Devils (23-1) in a Division 2 District Final.
2. Chelsea 51, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 47 This was a District Semifinal, but more notable as unseeded Chelsea (24-1) downed the Detroit Catholic Bishop Tournament champion and top-seeded FGR (19-4), on the way to then defeating Cardinal Tournament winner and second-seeded Wixom St. Catherine (22-2) in the Division 2 District Final.
3. Negaunee 47, Hancock 44 (2 OT) The Miners (21-4) avenged a 42-31 loss to the Bulldogs (20-2) from Dec. 16 to clinch in Division 3.
4. Farmington Hills Mercy 59, North Farmington 23 The Marlins (21-3) advanced with a Division 1 District title by handing North Farmington (23-1) its only defeat.
5. Olivet 48, Vicksburg 33 The Eagles (19-4), also in Division 2, claimed their first District title since 2011 in handing Vicksburg (23-1) its lone loss.
Regionals at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Kalamazoo Central (20-1) vs. DeWitt (22-2), Holt (20-4) vs. Coldwater (23-1)
Four 20-win teams make any Regional high profile, and this one also includes four league champions. Holt and DeWitt split their regular-season series – Holt winning 55-53 and DeWitt avenging 48-43 – in sharing the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title. But both face teams Tuesday that have lost only once this season – Coldwater to Jackson Northwest, and Kalamazoo Central in its season opener to Muskegon three months ago. Coldwater did avenge that loss to Northwest on Feb. 7 – and their matchups may have given Holt some ideas after the Rams clinched their District last week with a 63-45 win over the Mounties.
Sault St. Marie (20-2) vs. Midland Dow (17-7), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (21-0) vs. Grand Blanc (19-4)
Carman-Ainsworth was first, Grand Blanc second and Dow third in the Saginaw Valley League, and the Cavaliers won single meetings with the other two in building a perfect record. After being eliminated by Grand Blanc in a Regional Semifinal last season, Carman-Ainsworth won the team’s Jan. 20 meeting 45-42 – but the Bobcats haven’t lost since. Dow has won two straight Regional titles, and after graduating some serious star power rebounded this season off an 0-4 start to get back to this position – with its SVL loses to Carman-Ainsworth and Grand Blanc both by 14 points. Sault Ste. Marie may be far less familiar to those three, and that’s an advantage as the Blue Devils are coming off defeating the top two in the Big North Conference last week (Petoskey and Traverse City Central) after avenging one of their two losses by downing Great Northern Conference champion Escanaba two weeks ago.
Detroit Renaissance (20-1) vs. Bloomfield Hills Marian (10-13), Utica Ford (20-2) vs. Farmington Hills Mercy (21-3)
Renaissance’s work in its entirety this season is one of the strongest in the state, with that lone loss by a point in overtime to Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard two weeks ago. The Phoenix open this week with usual Catholic League Central power Marian – which after a rough first few months has won six straight to reach this point – while co-champion Mercy potentially awaits in the Regional Final. But the Marlins – themselves having lost this season only to Gabriel Richard (twice) and Detroit Edison – must be careful with Ford. The Falcons won the Macomb Area Conference White and reached the Red/White Tournament championship game before falling to Grosse Pointe North, another District champion last week.
Romulus (20-4) vs. Redford Westfield Prep (14-8), Detroit Edison (18-3) vs. Dearborn Divine Child (17-6)
It would be easy to call reigning Division 2 champion Detroit Edison the favorite not only to advance this week, but to win it all again. And with its only in-state loss again this season to 2022 Division 1 champion West Bloomfield, that’s a very possible scenario. But there will be plenty of challenges this week, starting with Divine Child and Miss Basketball Award finalist Kennedy Blair. On the other side of the bracket, Romulus has reached 20 wins for the second-straight season and surely would rev up for a rematch with Edison after falling to the Pioneers in last year’s Regional Final. Westfield has played a schedule much like Edison’s including opponents from along the I-96/I-94/I-75 corridors and some top out-of-state teams as well, with notable wins over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, Riverview and Detroit Country Day among others.
Lansing Catholic (19-5) vs. Tecumseh (20-4), Ida (15-9) vs. Chelsea (24-1)
Chelsea had arguably the most notable District run in the state with wins over Father Gabriel Richard and Wixom St. Catherine (see above). But if there was a No. 6 on that “Week in Review” list, it would’ve gone to Lansing Catholic for avenging a 10-point regular-season defeat with a 54-42 win over Haslett (22-2). The Cougars have won 17 of their last 18, the lone defeat to the Vikings. But Tecumseh also represents a very real stopper tonight, especially with the possibility of a third game with Chelsea on the line. Tecumseh finished second to Chelsea in the Southeastern Conference White, and its only two losses since December were to the Bulldogs. And all of that said, keep an eye out for Ida. The Bluestreaks emerged from a Lenawee Country Athletic Association that produced five teams (of eight) with at least 15 wins, and three District champions.
Houghton (19-5) vs. Kingsley (15-9), Big Rapids (22-2) vs. Standish-Sterling (21-3)
The Upper Peninsula produced a strong group of contenders who have taken turns challenging each other all season, and Houghton is among those emerging after winning its District Final 63-60 over Escanaba after falling to the Eskymos just two weeks earlier. Seven Gremlins wins have come against opponents with at least 15 victories. Kingsley is similarly tested, having won 11 of its last 15 games and with two of the most recent losses coming to 21-game winners Traverse City St. Francis and Maple City Glen Lake. Big Rapids moved past back-to-back Division 3 runner-up Kent City (20-4) in the Central State Activities Association with league and CSAA Tournament-clinching wins and will be challenged next by a Standish-Sterling team featuring 2,000-point scorer Macey Fegan.
Watervliet (20-4) vs. Kalamazoo Christian (21-3), Bronson (20-3) vs. Buchanan (21-1)
This list of contenders is as impressive as it comes, with four league champions all with 20 wins. The Bucks – led by Miss Basketball finalist Faith Carson – already own victories over Bronson (42-29) and Watervliet (44-32) from back-to-back games in late January, and defeated 21-game winner Niles Brandywine for the third time, 67-57, to advance. Bronson emerged from a Big 8 Conference with two 20-game winners and no doubt would love to also avenge last season’s 45-37 Regional Semifinal loss to Buchanan, and Kalamazoo Christian avenged its 2022 season-ending loss in downing Schoolcraft for the third time, 38-34, in their District Final last week. Christian also owns a 52-35 win over Watervliet from Jan. 10 – but the Panthers have won 11 straight since falling to Buchanan and were especially impressive doubling up 16 and 17-game winners during their District run.
Grass Lake (16-7) vs. Ovid-Elsie (20-4), Dansville (20-2) vs. Springport (20-3)
The Regional includes three more league champions, and Springport the runner-up to Bronson (see above) in the Big 8. Grass Lake is tested, with three wins and also three defeats to teams still playing including an especially impressive victory over Division 1 Saline. Ovid-Elsie is 19-2 since losing to Dansville on Dec. 5, and the two could get a chance to see how much has changed; the Marauders already clinched their District title by defeating Pewamo-Westphalia after losing to the Pirates previously back on Dec. 2. The Aggies have done nothing but impress all season with eight victories total over opponents with at least 15 wins and those losses only to 15-win Portland St. Patrick and Divine Child (see above). And that brings us back to Springport, which certainly could emerge having lost this season only to Bronson twice and Division 2 Olivet (see above) in its season opener.
Beaverton (11-13) vs. Lake City (23-1), Traverse City St. Francis (21-2) vs. Hemlock (21-3)
Lake City is a returning Regional champion and perhaps even more impressive this season having won the strong Highland Conference and then defeating third-place McBain and second-place Evart in last week’s District. The challenges will continue starting with Beaverton, which is 8-4 over its last 12 games after a rough start. On the other side of the bracket are two more league champions and 20-game winners, Hemlock from a Tri-Valley Conference West 10-1 that included Standish-Sterling (see above) and St. Francis from the Lake Michigan Conference with its only losses to Maple City Glen Lake (21-2) and Harbor Springs (18-5). Hemlock’s defeats were all to Division 2 teams, including two still playing.
Ewen-Trout Creek (18-6) vs. Baraga (19-5), Norway (21-3) vs. Munising (16-5)
Everyone here has seen plenty of good opponents, with the two Semifinals rematches from the regular season. Baraga was a six-point loss to eventual repeat champion Fowler from making the Division 4 championship game last winter, and the Vikings are back on the rush. All five losses were to teams that have won at least 16 games – although the most recent was in the regular-season finale, 64-62 in overtime, to E-TC. That win avenged a 50-38 loss to Baraga for the Panthers, and E-TC is similarly tested with all of its defeats to opponents with at least 14 wins. Norway is the winningest of this group and has only one in-state loss – to Division 3 Bark River-Harris on Feb. 13 – plus a 37-20 win over Munising from Jan. 6. The Mustangs similarly have seen many of the U.P.’s small-school best with four of five losses to teams with at least 16 wins.
Brimley (12-11) vs. Mackinaw City (23-1), Indian River Inland Lakes (19-5) vs. Johannesburg-Lewiston (19-6)
Mackinaw City has been in this mix for a while, but this might be its most impressive run of the recent bunch with its only loss 59-55 to Ovid-Elsie (see above) on a neutral court Feb. 4. The Comets defeated Inland Lakes 62-43 to win their home tournament Dec. 21, which might have been their most impressive win before clinching the District title with a 59-46 victory over Cedarville (16-5). Inland Lakes’ only defeats since Mackinaw City came to Gaylord St. Mary (21-3), the one team to finish ahead of the Bulldogs in the Ski Valley Conference. Johannesburg-Lewiston finish third in the Ski Valley and won the first meeting with Inland Lakes 49-33 on Dec. 7 before Inland Lakes took the rematch 55-51 on Jan. 24. Brimley has won five of its last six games, with the lone loss during that time by just a point, solidifying a notable rise from three wins two seasons ago to seven last year and now 12 with a District title.
Traverse City West
Gaylord St. Mary (21-3) vs. Onekama (8-16), McBain Northern Michigan Christian (11-10) vs. Maple City Glen Lake (21-2)
This Regional features a pair of powers on opposite sides of the bracket. Gaylord St. Mary won a Ski Valley that has had five teams post 13 or more victories, and the Snowbirds have only one loss (to Division 3 Harbor Springs) since an opening-weekend tournament sweep by Division 2 Escanaba and Division 3 New Lothrop. On the other side is Glen Lake, on a 13-game winning streak with losses to only Division 1 Traverse City Central and Division 2 Cadillac and plenty of idea of what it takes to advance having made the Quarterfinals two years ago and the Semifinals last season. Hoping to play spoiler are NMC – another team from the Division 3-heavy Highland Conference that defeated Manistee Catholic Central (18-6) in their District Final – and Onekama, which plays with Glen Lake and Kingsley in the Northwest Conference and won its three District games all by 13 points or more.
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PHOTOS (Top) Chelsea's Leila Wells was among stars last week as her team went from unseeded to District champion. (Middle) Dearborn Divine Child and Farmington Hills Mercy face off during the regular season; both will play in Regionals this week. (Photos courtesy of the Chelsea athletic department and by Douglas Bargerstock, respectively.)
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.)