By Geoff Kimmerly
Special to Second Half
The most-used coach cliche' this time of year revolves around the difficulty for a team to beat an opponent a third time in the playoffs after sweeping said opponent during the regular season.
But those words of wisdom played out in more than a few cases during girls basketball Districts last week.
See below for four champs from each class whose performances were particularly notable, including a handful that beat opponents after being swept by them earlier this winter. Records are based on results submitted for each team through the MHSAA Score Center.
Canton (16-6) – Defense has been the name of the game lately for the Chiefs, who have given up exactly 23 points in each of their last three. Although the first was a regular-season finale loss to Waterford Kettering, the most recent was a 29-23 District final win over also 16-6 Northville.
Detroit Martin Luther King (20-0) – The Crusaders navigated one of the toughest District brackets in Class A to remain undefeated, beating Detroit Public School League runner-up Detroit Cass Tech 46-35 and then in the final Detroit Pershing, 66-38. King had beaten Cass Tech in the PSL Final only two weeks before.
Grand Ledge (19-4) – Much was expected of the resurgent Comets heading into this winter, but powerhouse East Lansing still stood in the way and swept them during the regular season. But Grand Ledge got a big one back, beating the Trojans 51-49 in the District final.
Saginaw Heritage (14-8) – The Hawks 53-44 District final win over Midland Dow might’ve been their best postseason victory in close to a decade. Heritage finished second in the Saginaw Valley Association North this season, but Dow finished first and was 21-0 entering the game.
Flint Powers Catholic (17-6) – The Chargers are back after finishing below .500 and falling in their District opener last season. Five of their six losses this winter were to Class A teams – the sixth coming to Class B Livonia Ladywood in their opener – and Powers is on a 14-1 streak.
Jackson Northwest (17-6) – The most impressive win of last week’s District run was the first, 47-38 in the opener over Eaton Rapids. The Greyhounds finished 18-3 and had beaten Northwest by 14 and 29 points this season in winning the Capital Area Activities Conference Gold – while Northwest finished third in that league.
River Rouge (14-6) – The Panthers won their District games by 30, 20 and then five points, respectively. The best win certainly came in the championship game, 57-52 over Dearborn Divine Child, an MHSAA Semifinalist last season.
Stevensville-Lakeshore (15-7) – The Lancers added another step to their success of 2011-12, this time winning a District title and doing so by beating a strong Benton Harbor team 60-59 in the championship game. Benton Harbor beat Lakeshore by 14 and 18 during the regular season.
Carson City-Crystal (20-2) – The Eagles last lost on Dec. 20, to Central Michigan Athletic Conference co-champion Portland St. Patrick. But Carson City-Crystal eliminated the other winner of that league title, Pewamo-Westphalia, 35-29 in last week’s District final. P-W finished 18-5.
Ishpeming (16-6) – The Hematites and Negaunee tied for the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference championship, but Ishpeming earned some final bragging rights last week by beating Negaunee, at Negaunee, 45-41 to claim the District title.
Michigan Center (15-8) – The Cardinals finished only fourth in a strong Cascades Conference, but beat third-place Grass Lake in the District semifinal before downing Concord 41-36 for the championship. Concord, which finished 18-4, beat Michigan Center by four early this season and made the MHSAA Semifinals in 2012.
Shelby (19-3) – The West Michigan Conference champion is two wins better than last season and continued to roll through some close games last week – a 41-39 win over Holton in the District semifinal and a 55-47 win over Hart in the championship game.
Fulton-Middleton (12-9) – The Pirates finished sixth in the always-strong Central Michigan Athletic Conference. But they beat co-champion – and 2012 Class D Semifinalist – Portland St. Patrick in the District final, 58-54 in triple overtime. Before that, Fulton beat CMAC fourth-place Fowler 53-45.
Pickford (15-6) – The Panthers shared the Eastern UP Athletic Conference championship with DeTour this season, and added another championship by edging Rudyard 28-24 in the District final. Pickford fell in last season’s District final to Brimley, which it beat during last week’s semifinals.
Powers North Central (15-8) – The Jets closed the regular season with two losses and were swept this season by Skyline Conference rival Bark River-Harris. But North Central got one back in their third and final meeting of the winter, beating the Broncos 70-68 in their District final.
Waterford Our Lady (17-4) – The reigning three-time MHSAA champion also lost its final two regular season games. But the Lakers escaped a close District final against Bloomfield Hills Roeper, winning 44-40, to continue their pursuit of a fourth-straight title.
PHOTOS: Gaylord players celebrate last week's Class A District championship. The Blue Devils (14-9) edged Traverse City West 31-26 in overtime and now will face reigning Class A champion Grand Haven. (Photo courtesy of the Gaylord Herald Times.
Join Elizabeth Coon and Lexi Ayala for another edition of STATE CHAMPS! Women Hangtime.