Battle Creek Central has taken control of the East division with their win over Loy Norrix on Friday night. The Bearcats found a way to slow down Bishop Robinson as they held him to a season low 11 points. What did they do? Play him on a night when he is sick. Not to take anything away from BCC, because they won the game, and won by double digits on the road, but the Knights are not the same team without Robinson in the line-up. Really, they shouldn’t be either. He is the best player in the conference, and it makes sense to build your team around him. Still, when he is not in the line-up they can look like a team without its identity. The Bearcats lead the division, but I think it is by no means over. They still play each other one more time, and both teams have one divisional loss to a team that they probably feel they should have beat. Either one of these teams could stumble at some point.
In the West the big game on Friday night saw St. Joe get revenge on Portage Central. It ends a big week that didn’t go well for the Mustangs who also dropped a game to Benton Harbor. Still, it was another low scoring tight game between these two. What does that tell me? Portage Central is not that far away from the top. They are 6-5 in the division and 9-6 overall. They have two tight losses with K-Central, and one against St. Joe. If they keep playing defense, they have an opportunity to stay with anyone.
Stars of the week:
Devin Daniels, Lakeview
Back to back weeks in this category for the Freshman Daniels. But why not? All he did this week was average 24 ppg in two wins for the Spartans. On Tuesday he scored 23 points against Mattawan and came back with a 25 point effort against Coldwater. The Spartans have been the classic example of streaky this year. They have not had back to back wins or losses since they opened the season 1-1. Since then they have had two four game losing streaks, have won two in a row twice, and currently have won three in a row.
Michael Welsh, Stevensville Lakeshore
Welsh had a big game on Friday night as he scored 18 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in the Lancers’ win at Kalamazoo Central. Welsh is one of three players scoring in double figures for Lakeshore who is now 14-0 and ranked #4 in the state.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – St. Joseph @ Benton Harbor. St. Joe has firm control of second place in the West and now is the only team within earshot of Lakeshore. Their trip over to Benton Harbor will be no easy one. The Tigers have won four out of five and should be a much different team from the first time they faced each other which ended in a 77-47 St. Joe win.
Friday – Benton Harbor @ Kalamazoo Central. It is a big week of games for Benton Harbor as they will head to Kalamazoo Central on Friday. Both teams are 6-5 in the division going into the week. The Giants will be trying to avenge a 69-68 loss to the Tigers in their first go around.
Friday – Portage Central @ Stevensville Lakeshore. The last chance for the Mustangs against one of the top teams in the conference. Lakeshore is ranked #4 in the state and undefeated. They lost to the Lancers 48-34 in the first meeting.
Friday – Loy Norrix @ Marshall. Now that they are a game down in the standings, there is no room for error for the Knights. They will head to Marshall on Friday in a key game that will see two of the top scorers in the SMAC square off with a match-up of Bishop Robinson and Robby Ranville. Loy Norrix held off Marshall the first time 58-56.
Well that looks a lot more like the Otsego team we were expecting for most the season. A 30 point win over Vicksburg looks very good. They got a lot of scoring from different people as Tyler Nast scored 20 and for the first time this season the young Seth Dugan outscored his brother Reid. They also held a high scoring Vicksburg team to only 43 points. They are now 12-1 on the season.
As for the South Division, it was a very successful week for South Haven who had a three game schedule, with all three games on the road and the Rams went 3-0. Regardless of who you are playing, going 3-0 in a week with all the games on the road is a mark of success. That being said, they were playing three of the bottom teams in the league with Allegan, Comstock and Coloma. Also from the South division, the high flying act of Dontel Highsmith and the Dowagiac Chieftains continued their show this week scoring 90 or more in both games with a 90-62 win over Allegan and a 98-45 win over Three Rivers. The third ranked Chieftains are now scoring 78.9 ppg, which is over 14 ppg more than anyone else in the conference. They have also gone over 90 points in a game five times this season. The big question as they continue this season will be whether they can play defense when they need to, because they will need to at some point.
Players of the week:
Dontel Highsmith, Dowagiac
The top scorer in the conference put on a show twice this week. He scored 33 points against Allegan and came back with 30 against Three Rivers. He is now scoring 28.7 ppg on the season. Don’t forget about the help he is getting as three of his teammates are also scoring in double figures this season.
Josh Kozinski, Edwardsburg
It was a week for the big scorers as Kozinski led the Eddies to a 3-0 week and also scored 59 points in the span of 24 hours. On Friday night he dropped 31 points on Berrien Springs and then came back with a 28 point effort against Coloma on Saturday. He is scoring 23 ppg for Edwardsburg who is now 12-3 on the season.
Tyler White, Plainwell
The Big Ten football recruit was doing it on the hard court again this week. On Tuesday against Edwardsburg he led all scorers and rebounders with 32 points and 12 rebounds. White continues to lead the Trojans in both rebounding and scoring as he is now getting 14.6 ppg.
Alex Cottingham, Three Rivers
I’ll make a place for one more star this week as Cottingham was another one who had a 30 point effort this week. On Tuesday at Paw Paw the sophomore went off for 31 points in a loss to the Redskins. Cottingham has been the top scorer all season for the Wildcats scoring over 14 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Monday – Dowagiac @ Otsego. The big battle has arrived and it doesn’t look like snow will ruin this one. It is a make-up game, but also a must see as the top two teams in the conference, and two top five teams in the state collide. Dowagiac is ranked #3 and Otsego is ranked #5.
Friday – Otsego @ Paw Paw. It’s a tough week for Otsego. Along with their games against Dowagiac and Paw Paw they also face Hamilton on Tuesday. It could be a recipe for disaster for the Bulldogs who end the week with one of the hottest teams in the conference. Paw Paw has won six in a row going into this week.
Kalamazoo Christian gained two big wins this week as they separated themselves from everyone else in the battle for second place. On Tuesday they faced Galesburg-Augusta for the first time this season and won 50-45 in overtime. On Friday night they beat Maple Valley 51-46 and are now 10-3 in the conference. Second place is all there is left to fight for at this point as Schoolcraft has all but wrapped up the KVA title. It has been a few years since we have seen a team dominate the rest of the league like Schoolcraft is doing it. It is very reminiscent to how much better Kalamazoo Christian was compared to the rest of the conference about 10 years ago. I’m not trying to compare those teams, but Schoolcraft is just at a completely different level compared to the rest of the KVA.
When I look at the conference standings it still seems a little unusual to see Galesburg-Augusta and Maple Valley in third and fourth place in the conference. I don’t think anyone outside of those two towns thought they would be there. It isn’t a fluke, because these teams got some momentum and have just carried it on through the rest of the season. Both teams are still playing very good basketball.
Players of the Week:
Jake Grimes, Pennfield
Maybe not a great week, but he did have one very good game and that was against Homer on Tuesday. Grimes scored 27 points and dished out four assists to help the Panthers to the win. Grimes was suspended for the first half of the season, but since coming back has averaged 13 ppg.
Cody Diamond, Galesburg-Augusta
He hasn’t been the main scoring threat this season, but he certainly was on Friday night as Diamond scored 27 points to lead the Rams to a road win over Olivet. On the season Diamond has been averaging just under 10 ppg, which is third on the team behind Jordan Born and Kyle Mallwitz.
This Week’s Big Games:
Tuesday –Galesburg-Augusta @ Maple Valley. The battle for third place in the KVA. GA won a classic between these two the first time as they handed the Lions their first loss of the season 81-73 in triple OT.
Friday – Schoolcraft @ Maple Valley. This is the big hurdle that Maple Valley needs to get over. They have shown they can compete with anyone in this league except for Schoolcraft. The Eagles manhandled the Lions in the first game 71-36.
It was a great week for Watervliet who went 2-0, and also handed Decatur their first divisional loss of the season. Not only did they beat the Raiders, but they smoked them 71-42. I figured that the Panthers could play with Decatur, but I didn’t think a 29 point win would happen. They managed to slow down half of the Cevern combination. Tom still managed to get 23 points, but his cousin Tim was held to just 3. It was a much needed good week, which came on the heels of a three game losing streak. Decatur, on the other hand, should be fine. They are now 13-2 on the season and are two games up on Watervliet for the top of the division. The hottest team in the division right now might be Lawrence who has won four in a row and five out of six. Lawrence started the season 2-0 and then went on to six in a row before this stretch.
Gobles had their eight winning streak come to an end as Bangor topped the Tigers 54-47 on Tuesday. Still it wasn’t a terrible week for Gobles who had three games and went 2-1. That loss game in the second game of back to back games. They finished up the week winning on the road over Bloomingdale, which gave them the season sweep over their rivals. Goble’s 7-2 division record is a half game better than Saugatuck’s 6-2.
Players of the week:
Pete Alfaro, Fennville
Back to back weeks in this category for Alfaro who has certainly turned it up in recent times. He scored 28 points in an overtime loss to Lawton on Tuesday and came back to score 26 against Martin. He has now scored 25 points or more in three straight games. He has also upped his scoring average to 17 ppg.
Tom Cevern, Decatur
Decatur went 1-1 on the week but Tom Cevern still put up big numbers. He scored 23 points in both games, a win over Marcellus and a loss to Watervliet. On the season he is scoring just under 18 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Bloomingdale @ Decatur. Bloomingdale has been close to knocking off some of the big boys in the conference, and can give Decatur a good test. Still, playing the Raiders after a 29 point loss might not be what you want to do.
Tuesday – Gobles @ Lawrence. Gobles is one of the top teams in the SAC and Lawrence is the hottest team right now.