One race is over and one is getting close to being over. Stevensville Lakeshore wrapped up the West division title this past Tuesday with a win over Niles. That really came as no surprise. They were the favorites going in, and no one has touched them this season. They are undefeated and have a three game lead over St. Joseph for second place. They have only had three games all season that have been within 10 points and two of those were conference games. They showed no letdown on Friday as they hammered Portage Central 60-41. One other team to keep an eye on as we head toward districts may be Benton Harbor. The Tigers have won four in a row and six out of their last seven. They showed a great turn around this week in beating St. Joe 58-38. They lost to the bears by 30 earlier this season.
Battle Creek Central took two more steps toward clinching the East and passed another big hurdle in one game. On Tuesday the Bearcats beat Sturgis and came back on Friday to beat Lakeview. I thought, the Lakeview game could be one that could give BCC trouble, and it did, because Lakeview was within 2 with about a minute to go. They have two conference games left and they can clinch the division with a win in either game. Loy Norrix would need those two losses and a win in both of their last two conference games to earn a tie at the top of the division. It’s certainly a long shot seeing that BCC has now won nine in a row, and one of the teams they play is Harper Creek who they beat by 20 in their first match-up.
Stars of the week:
Devin Alexander, Benton Harbor
Benton Harbor won two big games this past week beating rival St. Joe and then winning on the road at Kalamazoo Central. In Tuesday’s win over St. Joe, Alexander scored 14 points and then came back on Friday to have one of his best games of the season, scoring 33 points against K-Central. Alexander has been the Tiger’s leading scorer this season and is a big reason for them winning six out of their last seven.
Chance Stewart, Sturgis
While the team may be only .500, Stewart is having a great senior season. He continued that trend this week in posting two double-doubles. Stewart scored 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in a loss to Battle Creek Central on Tuesday and came back to score 15 points and grab 16 rebounds in a win against Harper Creek. Friday’s game came while battling Harper Creek’s Josh Bass. In the battle between the two division one football recruits it looks like the QB won.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Loy Norrix @ Battle Creek Central. The second big match-up between the top two in the East division. BCC beat the Knights 57-43 on Feb. 8. It should be a different looking Loy Norrix team who will have Bishop Robinson at full strength this time. Loy Norrix has to win to have any chance at the division crown.
Friday – Portage Northern @ Portage Central. Portage Central slipped by Northern in overtime the first time they locked up. Northern is the classic team with nothing to lose in a rivalry game. The Huskies go into the week having lost four out of their last five.
Friday – St. Joseph @ Stevensville Lakeshore. Lakeshore has clinched the division crown, but that doesn’t mean that this game will lose any luster. These two played a tight 47-44 game in the first go around.
The week had a great start to it with the top two teams playing a classic game, and saw the top player in the conference get a bucket and a foul with just four seconds left to help Dowagiac to a one point win over Otsego. The exciting thing is that these two will play again in the conference championship game at the end of the season. Dowagiac went on to defeat Edwardsburg to end the week and all but locked up the division crown. Otsego rebounded well, going on to beat Hamilton on Tuesday and finished the week with a key win over Paw Paw.
Believe it or not, Otsego was the team that showed me a lot this week. They have been much less impressive than Dowagiac but still showed up in a big way to battle the Chieftains all the way down the stretch. They have been one of the few teams this season who has been able to go toe to toe with Dowagiac. Otsego though had to come back the next night, and survive a battle with Hamilton and finished the week beating one of the hottest teams around, Paw Paw, on the road. It certainly was a week where things could have gone very bad for the Bulldogs, but they handled it like a top team should.
Players of the week:
Dontel Highsmith, Dowagiac
He showed up big in two big games. On Monday he scored 32 against Otsego and then came back to score 32 against Edwardsburg on Friday. He has now scored over 30 points in four straight games, and has increased his scoring average to 29.1 ppg. As long as he is going hard, this team will have a chance to go a long way.
Tyler White, Plainwell
It’s back to back weeks in this category for White. He showed up big twice and led Plainwell to two wins this week. On Tuesday, Berrien Springs had no answer for him as he scored 26 points. He followed that up by pouring in 28 points in a win over Comstock. He has upped his scoring average to over 16 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Monday – Dowagiac @ South Haven. South Haven has been playing very good team basketball as of late. Whether or not that will be enough to slow down Dowagiac will be determined Monday night. Dowagiac had one of their closest games of the season with South Haven the first time, winning 69-65.
Tuesday – Paw Paw @ Dowagiac. It’s back to back big games for both of these teams. Paw Paw was cooled off by Otsego on Friday, and now will head to Dowagiac. If Paw Paw brings their best stuff they have what it takes to stay with Dowagiac.
Friday – Edwardsburg @ South Haven. These two will finish second and third in the West division. What order they finish in will be determined on Friday. The Eddies won the first match-up 67-57.
Friday – Plainwell @ Otsego. It will be a packed house on Friday night in Otsego as these two rivals match-up again. Plainwell gave Otsego a good battle the first time leading into the second half before falling 65-52.
The biggest news out of the KVA this week is the change in the conference. Following next season Maple Valley will no longer be in the KVA. I think it makes a lot of sense for both sides to move on this way. The Lions are moving to a new conference that will be composed of teams that are actually close to them. It will be a six team conference with Lakewood, Lansing Christian, Leslie, Perry, Stockbridge and Maple Valley. It was going to be a big step up in competition for them when they joined the KVA, but perhaps it was too much. They were a football program that went from football power to one that is in the bottom of the league and was struggling to win two or three games every year. You really can say that about the majority of their athletic programs. The new conference makes sense for them geographically and athletically. Now the KVA will need to fill that void and the most likely team to do that would be Comstock. They have been in the same boat in the Wolverine and a change of scenery would make sense for them too. I think the only other thing to think about with this would be Olivet. They are doing fine in the conference athletically, but they also don’t really have a travel partner any more. They no longer have someone who is less than a half hour drive away. I don’t see that being an issue for the Eagles though.
Basketball wise, Schoolcraft flexed their muscles again on Friday against Maple Valley, and did so on the road. I thought that the Lions might have the guard play to give Schoolcraft a decent game at home, but that obviously didn’t prove true. A few teams in the league might be making some late season noise heading into districts. Pennfield has won three out of four and is now a game within .500. Parchment has on four out of six and went 2-0 over the last week with home wins over Constantine and Hackett.
Player of the Week:
Luke Ryskamp, Schoolcraft
Schoolcraft had another 2-0 week and Ryskamp was, as usual, in the middle of it. On Tuesday at Olivet he scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He followed that up with a monster performance on Friday at Maple Valley, scoring 34 points, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out four assists. On the season Ryskamp is now scoring 23 ppg.
This Week’s Big Games:
Tuesday – Parchment @ Kalamazoo Christian. Not a lot of great Tuesday match-ups, but here’s hoping this one turns out ok. Parchment has won four out of six. K-Christian on the other hand has won five in a row and eight out of nine.
Friday – Hackett @ Kalamazoo Christian. It is rivalry week and these two will do battle for the second time this season. KC won the first match-up 67-60. This much should be true. Both should show up playing hard.
It was a little bit of a quiet week in the SAC with no Friday games. That always seems a little strange that there would be an off night on a Friday. On Tuesday there was one big upset as Bloomingdale went down and beat Decatur. It was a big win for Bloomingdale but just leads to more questions about Decatur. This team has fallen off in a big way over the last two weeks. They have lost three straight and two of those games were by close to 30 points. It is quite odd to see a team who looked so good, then look that bad. They are still in first place but it no longer seems like a for sure thing that they win this division.
Player of the week:
Mitch Walker, Gobles
You will have certain nights where everything is falling for you and for Walker that night was on Tuesday against Lawrence. He scored 21 points, all coming on three pointers (Yes that means he made seven). Gobles still leads the North Division and is 12-4 on the season. Walker has been one of the leading scorers this season for the Tigers scoring over 12 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Gobles @ Bangor. Gobles is on top of the North but one of their two division losses came to Bangor who beat the Tigers 54-47 just two weeks ago.
Friday – Watervliet @ Lawrence. Watervliet is a hard team to figure out right now. They beat Decatur by 30 but then fall at home by nine to Fennville. Lawrence had won five in a row before their streak was ended last week by Gobles.