YOSHONIS: A few things we’ve learned so far this high-school basketball season

Now that we’re smack in the middle of the local high-school basketball season — and, frankly, now that so many games were postponed Friday night opening up a lot more space in this newspaper — it’s time to make a few observations about some of the local teams.

Don’t get mad if I don’t mention your favorite team, this is not meant as a comprehensive overview of every school. It’s just a few things that jump out at me from the games that we have seen so far this season.

Bear Lake = Basketball High?

Bear Lake’s boys and girls teams are both at the top of their respective standings, both unbeaten in league play, with a combined overall record of 13-1.

The only blemish was a non-conference by the Laker girls at Lake Leelanau St. Mary, where their girls team has just one loss, by one point, 33-32 to a good Muskegon Catholic Central team.

But St. Mary is also the only team that Bear Lake has played that currently sports a winning record.

Bear Lake’s girls had a key West Michigan D League game postponed Friday, against third-place Pentwater, and will face a stiff non-league test in its next game on Tuesday, Jan. 16 when they hit the road or McBain to play Northern Michigan Christian.

And Friday’s postponement has forced the Lakers into a potentially rough stretch of games after that, playing four games in the span of six days from Jan. 19-25, with the Pentwater game the only one at home.

That stretch will tell us a lot more about the quality of the team than we know now. If they can come out of it unscathed, they could create a two-horse race with Brethren for the league title, making their two games yet to come de facto league title tilts.

But that’s a big “if,” after the Lakers’ struggles with a below-average Mason County Eastern team on Wednesday was any indication.

The Laker boys are on a serious roll, having outscored its seven opponents by an average score of 74-41. Their familiar full-court press has proven impossible to crack, starting with perhaps the biggest game to date at the very beginning, an 82-70 win over conference co-favorite Baldwin.

Bear Lake will have a chance to consolidate its position at the top of the WMDL standings in its next two league games, against the two teams currently tied with Baldwin for second place, Pentwater and Walkerville on Jan. 18 and 24, respectively.

Chippewa boys on a roll?

Manistee’s boys teams have struggled over the past few years, but the program took a bit of a step forward with its first 2-game winning streak since 2014. The streak had a decent chance of being extended Friday, but the Chippewas’ scheduled game against 2-6 Muskegon Heights fell victim to the weather on Friday.

Now, Manistee will have to play two Lakes-8 games in two days next week, at Muskegon Catholic on Monday and then the rescheduled game against Heights on Tuesday.

After that, it’s a rare Friday night off followed by three straight road games for the Chippewas, at Mason County Central, Muskegon West Michigan Christian and Muskegon Orchard View.

The odd and changing schedule makes it difficult to build on whatever momentum Manistee has generated, but if they can come out of the next five games with at least a couple of wins, they should feel pretty good about themselves and the progress they have made.

In case you were wondering, the last time Manistee won a third consecutive boys basketball game was Jan. 6, 2012. The Chippewas finished the regular season 10-10 that year, and have won 19 games total in the five full seasons since. That’s a lot of history to overturn, but this team has a chance to make serious strides in the right direction.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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