The 49th girls basketball season with MHSAA sponsorship began with a handful of games Monday evening, and more than 700 varsity teams are scheduled to get their seasons underway over the next few weeks.
The sport’s rich history has seen 188 champions awarded – four per season for 48 years, with 2020’s Finals canceled because of COVID-19 – with 101 schools winning at least one MHSAA title.
Detroit Country Day owns the MHSAA record with most appearances in a girls basketball championship game – 17 – and also has won a record 13 championships, its most recent in 2018. Detroit Martin Luther King and Portland St. Patrick are next on the Finals appearances list – with 12 apiece – and St. Patrick, Bloomfield Hills Marian and now-closed Flint Northern all are tied for second with six championships won.
Northern, which shuts its doors as a high school at the end of the 2012-13 school year, still is the only program to win four straight championships – doing so in Class A from 1978-81.
The first MHSAA girls basketball champions in 1973 were Detroit Dominican in Class A, Hudsonville Unity Christian in B, Hamtramck St. Ladislaus in Class C and Ewen-Trout Creek in Class D. All were coached by women; in fact, the first five Class D champions, the first three in Class C, the first three in Class B and the first four in Class A all had women coaches.
Awarding four championships each year has been a constant of the first half-century of girls basketball as part of the MHSAA championship series. But of course, many things have changed over that time. Among those 101 schools with at least one Finals championship, 14 no longer exist – including Dominican and St. Ladislaus.
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights
Nov. 23: Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read
(MHSAA file photo.)
We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA girls basketball season. And while the schedule is full of an increasing number of must-see games across the state, all of them fit into some serious crunching of numbers going on behind the scenes at our East Lansing office.
Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. We’re sitting at 694 member girls varsity teams this winter, and we’ve nearly completed a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 23-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.
Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – for just scores alone, we’ve been able to collect more than 98 percent from an estimated 4,500 games that have been played so far this winter. We’ll be working to track down the rest before District pairings are announced Jan. 19. And then we’ll finish the same process for boys schedules and results.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 33, Farmington Hills Mercy 26 The Irish (12-3) broke reigning Detroit Catholic League Central champion Mercy’s 12-game league winning streak, handing Mercy its first defeat of the season and also avenging a 46-33 loss to the Marlins (13-1) only three weeks earlier.
2. Saline 41, Temperance Bedford 22 The Hornets (13-2) not only became the last undefeated team in Southeastern Conference Red play, but earned it by handing Bedford (13-1) its first defeat overall.
3. Traverse City St. Francis 54, Harbor Springs 31 The Gladiators (11-1) avenged their lone loss and in the process joined Elk Rapids in a tie atop the Lake Michigan Conference standings, with Harbor Springs (12-2) half a game back.
4. Byron Center 48, East Grand Rapids 35 The Ottawa-Kent Conference White is one of the top leagues in the state, and Byron Center (12-3) sits atop the standings after defeating third-place EGR (11-4) and then fourth-place Lowell during a big week.
5. Detroit Renaissance 50, Detroit Cass Tech 46 The undefeated Phoenix (14-0) moved into first place alone in the Detroit Public School League Blue, with one more league game to play, as Cass (6-6) fell a game back.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Byron Center (12-3) As noted above, Byron Center had a massive week heading into Tuesday’s rematch with O-K White second-place Grand Rapids Christian. The Bulldogs won the first meeting with the Eagles 54-34 on Dec. 15, hence their one-game lead atop the league standings. That victory also started a 10-game winning streak after Byron Center took early losses from O-K Red contenders East Kentwood, Rockford and Hudsonville. Total, the Bulldogs have won 41 straight league games in the O-K White and before that Green, going back five seasons.
Grosse Pointe North (12-2) The Norsemen can clinch a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red championship against Port Huron on Tuesday, which would run their league title streak to three seasons. North’s only losses this winter were to still-undefeated Lake Fenton and Red second-place Utica Eisenhower, the latter by a point in their second meeting Jan. 19. Seven of GPN’s 12 wins have come against teams that would be .500 or better if not for losing (once, or twice) to North.
Grand Rapids West Catholic (14-0) The reigning Division 2 runner-up has won 35 of its last 36 games and avenged last season’s lone regular-season loss, defeating Rockford this time 61-54 to win the Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament Gold championship. West Catholic’s 71-32 win over former league co-leader Hamilton last week put the Falcons in first alone in the O-K Blue, and only Division 1 contenders Hudsonville and East Grand Rapids have joined Rockford in coming within single digits of catching them.
Wixom St. Catherine (12-1) The Stars have clinched a share of the Catholic League AA championship, after sharing it with Royal Oak Shrine Catholic last season. St. Catherine defeated Shrine 54-35 on Jan. 13 and will face the Knights again Friday to close the league schedule. The only loss this winter came to Detroit Country Day on Dec. 6, and only 11-win Flint Powers Catholic has come within single digits since that lone defeat.
Hancock (11-1) In a loaded Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, Hancock could emerge as the best starting tonight with the second of two meetings against Calumet (10-2), and with two against Houghton (12-1) coming up as well. The 45-39 win over Calumet on Dec. 13 was among Hancock’s best victories, and the lone loss came Jan. 13 to still-undefeated Escanaba, 50-49. The Bulldogs tied for second in the West-PAC West last season before losing their District opener to Ishpeming, but they’ve defeated Ishpeming 42-27 this winter and face the Hematites again Wednesday.
Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) Coming off avenging that lone loss to Harbor Springs (see above), St. Francis would seem to have the upper hand in the Lake Michigan Conference even with Elk Rapids also having just one league loss – they meet again Feb. 9, and St. Francis won the first matchup 43-26 on Jan. 13. The Gladiators are seeking their first league title since 2017-18 and annually are in the hunt; they’ve also had their last three seasons ended with playoff losses to Maple City Glen Lake, which they see Wednesday for the first time this winter.
Cedarville/DeTour (11-2) The Islanders lead the Eastern Upper Peninsula Athletic Conference and haven’t lost for more than a month, their defeats coming to still-unbeaten Mackinaw City and then Oscoda three days later in early December. It’s an impressive turnaround from last season’s 8-12 finish, and has included six victories against teams .500 or better and five against opponents with at least eight wins. A Feb. 14 home game against St. Ignace will provide another big opportunity.
Indian River Inland Lakes (10-4) An 0-2 start to this season is becoming a memory, especially after Inland Lakes avenged the second of those defeats – by 17 to Johannesburg-Lewiston – with a 55-51 win last week. The only other losses came to Mackinaw City at the Comets’ Christmas Tournament, and to Ski Valley Conference leader Gaylord St. Mary two weeks ago. The Bulldogs rebounded from their tough start in December with wins over Bellaire and Cheboygan that avenged 2021-22 losses.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – DeWitt (12-1) at Holt (12-2) – The co-leaders in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue face off for the first of two meetings this season after the teams split a year ago.
Wednesday – Maple City Glen Lake (11-2) at Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) – In addition to those three playoff wins over St. Francis the last three seasons, Glen Lake is looking to extend a five-game regular-season winning streak against the Gladiators.
Thursday – Buchanan (12-1) at Niles Brandywine (10-1) – Buchanan is atop the Lakeland Conference standings and Brandywine is second because of the Bucks’ 49-45 overtime win when they met the first time Dec. 15.
Friday – Detroit Edison (10-2) at Farmington Hills Mercy (13-1) – Edison’s only defeats this season were to Illinois teams in early December, and only West Bloomfield last winter has handed the Pioneers an in-state loss over the last five seasons.
Friday – Escanaba (13-0) at Houghton (12-1) – The Eskymos will take their perfect record to the Keweenaw Peninsula in what could possibly be a preview of a Division 2 District Final as well.
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PHOTOS (Top) Marquette's Siena Lingle (21) attempts to block a shot by Calumet's Laina Kariniemi (14) during the Copper Kings' 50-44 win Jan. 23. (Middle) Haslett's Maddie Fant (5) and Abigail Brooks (24) defend during the Vikings' 52-32 win over Brighton on Saturday. (Top photo by Cara Kamps. Middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)