By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
District seeds have been planted, league titles are being clinched seemingly every day and we’re fast-breaking into the final two weeks of this girls basketball season.
In case you missed them, District brackets were posted for all four divisions Sunday – and for the first time with the top two teams placed on opposite sides of the opening-round bracket. But there’s still plenty to decide before we get to the playoffs, and we connect some of those dots below.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. East Kentwood 53, Hudsonville 46 – The reigning Ottawa-Kent Conference Red champion Falcons (13-3) put themselves in position to at least claim a share of the title this time by handing current leader Hudsonville (15-1) its first loss.
2. Detroit Renaissance 81, Detroit Cass Tech 55 – The Phoenix (16-2) clinched the Detroit Public School League Tournament title and rose to No. 3 in the Division 1 Michigan Power Ratings with a big win over Cass Tech (15-2).
3. East Lansing 50, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 41 – The Trojans (15-1) moved to 9-1 this winter against teams that have gone on to double-digit victories, this time handing a second loss to another Division 1 contender in the Cavaliers (14-2).
4. Saginaw Heritage 56, Midland 39 – The Hawks (11-5) pushed into a first-place tie in the Saginaw Valley League Red, and a second loss last week sent former leader Midland (15-3) into third place.
5. Fowler 54, Byron 47 – The Eagles quietly have risen to No. 4 in Division 4 MPR, but this was a loud statement as they handed Byron (15-1) its only loss.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Renaissance (16-2) The Phoenix have won 16 games three of the last four seasons with room for more success this winter. Renaissance’s only losses came to Illinois powerhouse Chicago Simeon 65-50 at the end of December and by two to Detroit Edison, 54-52, on Feb. 1. That was the closest game unbeaten Edison has played, and the Phoenix can further add to a memorable regular season at Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Wednesday and against the Detroit Catholic League champ in next week’s Operation Friendship game.
East Lansing (15-1) The Trojans have defeated an exceptional list of opponents – including Carman-Ainsworth (14-2), Holt (13-3) twice, DeWitt (12-4) twice, Williamston (14-3), Haslett (11-5) and Pewamo-Westphalia (13-2), and a much-better-than-its-record Harper Woods Chandler Park (10-6). The only loss was to Edison 65-48 on Jan. 7, and East Lansing has only one game closer than nine points since. The Trojans can clinch a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title tonight at Okemos.
Big Rapids (15-1) The Cardinals have built a 10-game winning streak and moved into a first-place tie in the Central State Activities Association Gold with wins the last two weeks over co-leader Fremont (40-35) and third-place Newaygo (30-29). It’s been an incredible jump; after going 22-3 in 2017-18, Big Rapids fell back to 6-14 a year ago. But their only loss this winter came in the first Fremont game, 39-33 on Dec. 20.
Harper Woods Chandler Park (10-6) The Eagles rank third in Division 2 MPR with this record because of a schedule against opponents with a combined .715 winning percentage. Chandler Park is 8-2 over its last 10 games and won the Charter School Conference Tournament on Friday. The Eagles have handed Ecorse (12-1) its only loss and also have nice wins over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (15-4) and Dearborn Henry Ford Academy (11-5) – plus good playoff-prep losses to Michigan Center, Brighton, Ann Arbor Huron, Carman-Ainsworth and East Lansing among others.
Kent City (16-1) The Eagles locked up a share of the CSAA Silver championship Friday with their second win over Morley Stanwood (13-3), this time 42-30. The title is the team’s sixth straight, and Kent City ran its league winning streak to 43 games. The only defeat this season came to Division 1 Muskegon (10-6) on Jan. 14, and the Eagles also have wins over Comstock Park (12-4), Kalamazoo Christian (12-5), Cedar Springs (10-6) and White Cloud (11-6) as they look to build for the tournament. They fell last year 35-33 in a Regional Semifinal to eventual champion Pewamo-Westphalia.
Maple City Glen Lake (15-2) The Lakers quietly are back on top in the Northwest Conference with a chance to clinch a share of the league title tonight against second-place Kingsley. But they made some noise last week by handing Division 2 Cadillac its only defeat, and Glen Lake also owns double-digit wins over Lake Michigan Conference leader Charlevoix and second-place Traverse City St. Francis. The losses came to Division 1 Midland Dow 45-43 on Dec. 7, and then 58-54 on Jan. 8 to Manton – the opponent that stopped the Lakers’ playoff run in the District opener a year ago.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (15-2) The Cougars did take their second loss Monday, but impressively 67-62 to Edison, and the only other defeat came against Division 1 Hartland (15-1) on Dec. 7. Those could provide as much value as most wins as Lenawee Christian aspires to claim a third-straight Class D/Division 4 championship. And there have been plenty of impressive wins too, over Fowler, Division 3 Michigan Center (13-3) and Brooklyn Columbia Central (15-2), Division 2 Dexter (13-3) and Division 1 Kalamazoo Central.
St. Ignace (13-2) After falling to league rival Sault Ste. Marie on Feb. 6, the Saints are working to finish with a shared championship in the Straits Area Conference. But they really make their name when the playoffs start. Last season’s Division 4 runner-up (with a two-point loss to Lenawee Christian in the Final) will sprint into this postseason with wins to their credit over Division 1 Ann Arbor Huron (15-2), the Division 2 Blue Devils (15-1) and Kingsley (11-5) and Division 3 Charlevoix (11-5) twice. Division 2 Goodrich (14-2) should provide another tune-up Saturday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Brighton (15-1) at Hartland (15-1) – These two are tied for first in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West with two league games to play and Brighton winning their first meeting 41-33 on Jan. 24.
Tuesday – Ubly (15-1) at Sandusky (14-3) – The Bearcats lead the Greater Thumb Conference East by a game thanks to a 31-17 home win over Sandusky on Jan. 21.
Tuesday – Lake City (15-1) at Manton (16-1) – The Rangers won the first meeting and can clinch a share of the Highland Conference title with another, or see Manton move into a first-place tie.
Tuesday – Macomb Dakota (15-2) at Port Huron (18-0) – The Macomb Area Conference White champion Big Reds look to advance to the Red/White Tournament final against the Red runner-up.
Friday – Ishpeming Westwood (16-1) at Negaunee (13-4) – The Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East-leading Patriots handed Negaunee its only league loss 45-35 on Jan. 24.
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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.)