By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The MHSAA girls basketball postseason begins in four weeks – still enough time for teams to gain some momentum heading into tournament play.
For those in need of a boost, the playoffs have already begun – and we’re picking up on a few beginning to emerge, including some listed below among teams that impressed most last week.
Bloomfield Hills Marian (14-1) – The reigning Class A champion is a favorite again and last week claimed its second win this season against Catholic League Central rival Farmington Hills Mercy, also last season’s MHSAA Semifinal opponent. Marian’s only loss this winter is to Chicago Whitney Young, by four.
Brighton (11-3) – The Bulldogs are only tied for first in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West as they seek their fourth straight league title. But part of a five-game winning streak is a 38-27 victory over co-leader Hartland, and they meet again Friday in the league finale.
East Lansing (9-6) – The Trojans are continuing their climb back from a rare down season last winter. After winning six games in all of 2013-14, East Lansing is riding a 6-2 run and sits in second in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, with a rematch against league leader Grand Ledge set for Feb. 24.
Grand Rapids Christian (13-3) – The Eagles are a perfect 6-0 in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White after sharing the league title last year with Forest Hills Central. Grand Rapids Christian built on a seven-game winning streak last week and finishes with four more conference games.
Dearborn Divine Child (10-5) – The Falcons get lost a little bit behind Marian and Mercy in the super-strong Catholic League Central, but have won three straight and finished tied for second in the league standings.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud (13-1) – The Bulldogs have made a big turnaround from last season’s sub-.500 finish – they have claimed a share of the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue championship, with their lone loss in December to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett.
Flat Rock (14-3) – The Rams have won 44 straight Huron League games and already clinched a share of a third straight league title with three more league games to play. All three losses came in December to teams with a combined 34-10 record.
Olivet (11-4) – The Eagles are chasing Perry in the first-year Greater Lansing Activities Conference, but have won seven of their last nine games. Olivet faces Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph East leader Bronson on Friday before getting a rematch against Perry next week.
Homer (11-3) – The Trojans eclipsed last season’s win total with Thursday’s over Athens and have won eight of their last nine games – with the lone loss to Big 8 Conference leader Concord. Homer gets second-place Reading tonight and Concord again on Feb. 20.
Iron Mountain (7-7) – The Mountaineers' overall record is middling, but they're climbing in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference and handed league leader Ishpeming its first loss, 34-32, on Feb. 2. The victory ended a three-game skid and was followed by another victory Thursday over Manistique.
Marlette (12-3) – The Red Raiders would love some help with Sandusky, which leads Marlette by a win in the Greater Thumb Conference East. But Marlette has won seven of eight – the lone loss being to Sandusky – and the league title should come down to their rematch Feb. 19.
Traverse City St. Francis (13-1) – The Gladiators did suffer their first loss last week, to one-loss Class B Manistee. But St. Francis does lead the Lake Michigan Conference with a big early-January win over second-place Kalkaska, and kicked off last week by beating Traverse City Central 46-38.
Cedarville (11-3) – The Trojans are on a 9-1 run after opening 2-2; they lead the Straits Area Conference by half a win over reigning champion Brimley and already have split with the Bays this season. Last week’s pair of wins were by a combined four points.
Fruitport Calvary Christian (12-2) – The Eagles have clinched their third straight league title, finishing undefeated in the Alliance League North and with their only losses to Class B Kentwood Grand River Prep and Class C Holton. All but one win has come by at least 12 points.
Portland St. Patrick (12-3) – The Shamrocks didn’t make it out of their District last season but appear to be ramping up for another postseason run with their only losses to Class C teams with a combined record of 39-8. St. Patrick beat Fowler 47-41 last week to sweep the Eagles this season after ending 2013-14 with a loss to them.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (9-1) – The Titans also are again looking like a tough playoff opponent with their only defeat this season to one-loss Frankfort in December. Michigan Lutheran is in second place in the Red Arrow Conference, just behind rival Lake Michigan Catholic.
PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech improved to 14-3 with a 47-41 win over Detroit Mumford in Monday’s Detroit Public School League semifinal. The Technicians will face Detroit Martin Luther King in the championship game Feb. 20. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
Championship time is quickly approaching this girls basketball season.
We’re still three weeks out from the start of District play. But league contenders are clashing all over the state, with a handful of conferences finishing up their schedules this week and several favorites facing off soon with titles on the line. We make mention of a number of those below.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. West Bloomfield 59, Detroit Edison 49 Last season, West Bloomfield (15-2) became the first in-state team to defeat Edison (12-3) since 2018 – and the Lakers have become the only one to do so again this winter.
2. Maple City Glen Lake 51, Traverse City St. Francis 45 The Lakers (13-2) are up to No. 2 in Division 4 MPR, while St. Francis (12-2) sits No. 4 in Division 3.
3. Holt 55, DeWitt 53 The Rams (14-2) sit alone atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue after sending the Panthers (13-2) into second in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.
4. Hancock 50, Calumet 47 The Bulldogs (13-1) maintained their one-game lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference West with their second win this season over third-place Calumet (11-3). Both are among the top seven statewide in Division 3 MPR.
5. Detroit Edison 44, Farmington Hills Mercy 42 The Pioneers bounced back from the West Bloomfield loss with a pair of close wins, this one over Mercy (14-2) followed by a one-pointer over Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Saturday.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (11-5) After a 2-4 start with those losses to top Division 1 and 2 teams statewide, Reeths-Puffer is 9-3 and tied for first in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green with Muskegon after edging the Big Reds 56-52 on Friday. That avenged a 14-point loss to Muskegon on Jan. 6, and the Rockets have since gone on an eight-game winning streak. They also opened last week with a 42-39 victory over 11-win Ludington.
Wayne Memorial (13-4) The Zebras further solidified their standing atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East standings with last week’s 75-57 win over second-place Belleville. That followed up a 44-41 win over the Tigers on Jan. 6, and total Wayne has won 12 straight since a 1-3 start that included two-point losses to Division 1 contenders Detroit Renaissance and Hudsonville and a third defeat to Illinois power Chicago Whitney Young.
Goodrich (14-1) The Martians are locked in another battle atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Lake Fenton and trail the Blue Devils by a game after a 50-44 loss Jan. 20. That’s Goodrich’s only defeat, and they’ll attempt to avenge it in the league finale Feb. 17. In the meantime, the Martians can continue their statewide push upward with 13-win Flushing coming up Wednesday and 15-win Ovid-Elsie next week as well.
Redford Westfield Prep (11-6) The Warriors take on many of the state’s best, evidenced by their No. 8 MPR despite six losses. Westfield has won seven of its last eight games, the lone defeat during that streak 55-53 to still-undefeated Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 16 – and with perhaps its most notable instate win of the season 46-45 in double overtime Jan. 12 over reigning Division 3 champion Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
McBain (13-4) The Highland Conference race could go down to the finish, especially after McBain avenged its earlier 17-point loss to second-place Evart with a 51-35 win last week. McBain also has a six-point loss to league leader Lake City from Jan. 20, but can avenge that in the regular-season finale Feb. 23. The Ramblers additionally have a pair of victories over 12-win Beal City and a solid early loss to still-undefeated Division 2 Escanaba.
Ovid-Elsie (15-2) The Marauders haven’t slowed down a bit after last season’s 21-2 finish with league and District titles, the latter in Division 2. This season in Division 3, Ovid-Elsie is up to No. 6 in MPR with a 14-game winning streak since suffering its lone losses early to Pewamo-Westphalia (10-5) and Dansville (15-1). The Marauders handed Mackinaw City its first defeat Saturday, 59-55 on a neutral court, and also has a victory over 14-win Ithaca plus a two-game lead in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference.
Fowler (11-6) Coming off back-to-back Division 4 championships, Fowler put together a schedule featuring solid-to-strong teams from Divisions 1-4 and sit No. 3 in Division 4 MPR. The losses have come to Midland Dow, Haslett, Lansing Catholic, Kent City and league rivals Dansville and Portland St. Patrick, and the Eagles avenged the Shamrocks defeat 51-44 last week. Fowler will need help to catch Dansville in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, down two games from the league leader, but will try to get one back from the Aggies on Feb. 14.
Norway (16-1) The Knights are leading the large-school division of the Skyline Central Conference with the likely deciding matchup coming at Bark River-Harris next week. Norway has lost only to Niagara (Wis.), by five two weeks ago, and handed Carney-Nadeau (13-2) one of its losses among other strong work – and after ending last season’s 11-10 run with a 15-point District loss to the Wolves.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Coldwater (15-1) at Jackson Northwest (15-1) – The Mounties lead Coldwater by a win in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference thanks to a 50-46 win in their first meeting Jan. 10.
Tuesday – Utica Ford (14-1) at Grosse Pointe North (13-2) – North has clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title heading into tonight’s league finale, while Ford won by a large margin in the MAC White.
Thursday – Houghton (13-1) at Hancock (13-1) – As noted above, Hancock leads the West-PAC West by a game – but will face second-place Houghton twice over the next two weeks.
Friday – Standish-Sterling (15-1) at Hemlock (13-3) – Hemlock owns the lead in the Tri-Valley Conference West 10-1 thanks to a 62-31 doubling up in the first meeting Jan. 6. But that remains the Panthers’ lone loss, and they’ve since handed TVC 10-2 co-leader Saginaw Valley Lutheran one of its two defeats.
Friday – Saline (15-2) at Temperance Bedford (16-1) – Saline is first and Bedford second in the Southeastern Conference Red thanks to Saline’s 41-22 win in their first meeting Jan. 27.
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PHOTOS (Top) A trio of Fowler defenders surround a Bath player driving to the basket during a 49-27 win earlier this season; they meet again Thursday. (Middle) Maddie Bradford of Maple City Glen Lake contests a shot by Maggie Napont of Traverse City St. Francis during the Lakers' 51-45 win over the Gladiators last week. (Top photo by Click by Christine McCallister. Middle photo by Rick Sack/TC Rick Photo.)