This happens every year the first week back in January.
It’s only been a couple of weeks, but it feels like a season ago since teams took to the basketball court.
But, it’s time to get things back up and rolling again, so I hope you’re ready for non-stop hoops for the next two and a half months.
Most games picked back up Tuesday around Northern Michigan and others will return to the court throughout the next few days.
Though we’re really only less than a month into the season, there’s already been some things learned, with some teams showing more than was expected and others still working to get out of the gates.
If your team is part of that latter group, don’t worry, there’s so much basketball left it’ll make your head spin.
That’s often how I feel on a nightly basis, as calls, texts and emails roll in while I’m scrambling to edit photos and piece together whatever game I’m coming back from.
I wish I could be everywhere, but that’s obvisouly not realistic. I’ve done my best in the first few weeks of the season to get out to a number of places and other plans (scheduled games) fell through for various reasons.
Over the next couple months, I’ll of course be busy doing the same – barring the always unpredictable winter weather and any COVID surprises.
As games get back in action over the next couple weeks, there’s quite a few I’ve got my eye on that’ll provide some clarity and be great as a fan or spectator as well.
Here’s five area girls games and five on the boys side in the next two weeks that can help get you back in the swing of high school hoops:
Wednesday, Jan. 5
Gaylord at Boyne City
It was a bit of a tough start to the season for the Boyne City girls, with an 0-4 record and not having scored over 24 points in a game.
There’s nobody that wants it corrected more so than basketball loving head coach Adam Stefanski and the first chance comes against a Gaylord team that averaged 52 points in a 3-1 start.
The Blue Devils aren't a team to be taken lightly at all, led by sophomore Avery Parker and Junior Alexis Kozlowski.
It’s not going to be an easy matchup, but the Ramblers have shown capable of some tough defense in the first month. Even keeping things close would come as a solid building block for the tough league schedule just ahead for the Ramblers.
Friday, Jan. 7
Alpena (3-3) at Petoskey (3-1)
Remember the Petoskey girls’ basketball team?
It’s alright if you say no. I might have to go back over the roster to remember who is on the team this week.
The first couple weeks of the season brought two cancelations for Petoskey – against both Grand Blanc and Gaylord – making for a full three weeks and 23 days since they’ve taken the court for competition.
Petoskey returned to action against Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday, though the intriguing game comes in a home matchup against an Alpena team that’s started off 3-3 and dropped an overtime game against defending BNC champion Cadillac.
It’s the Big North opener for Petoskey and a chance to get back in a groove with Caroline Guy and Grayson Guy both back healthy.
Monday, Jan. 10
Harbor Light at Mackinaw City
Mackinaw City was one of a few teams around the area that actually kept things going a bit longer into the winter break and actually got a test out of it with a 59-52 win over a good Brimley team.
That’s as close as things have been for the Comets this season, but if there’s anyone that’ll push them within the Northern Lakes, it’s Harbor Light Christian.
The Lady Swordsmen are 3-2 on the year and these two squads have been league rivals over the past handful of seasons.
You wont find a pair of more dedicated coaches within the Northern Lakes than Jake Huffman at Mackinaw and Jeff Jakeway at Harbor Light, so both teams should be ready for this one.
Tuesday, Jan. 11
TC St. Francis at Harbor Springs
The Harbor Springs girls were phenomenal to start out the season.
They’re 6-0 and freshman Olivia Flynn has handed out 30-point performances like they’re Snickers on Halloween. She’s been unstoppable for opponents and quite entertaining to watch.
While the start is impressive, things will really start to roll now for the Rams, with some tough games just ahead.
This Traverse City St. Francis battle should indeed be one of them, with the Glads off to a 5-1 start and only loss coming against a really good Glen Lake team.
There’s no question the Harbor girls are a good team and new head coach Amy Flynn is getting the most out players like Hailey Fisher, Sierra Kruzel and Jill Wagner — who have all made huge strides — but this matchup with St. Francis will be an excellent measuring stick early in the season.
Tuesday, Jan. 11
Charlevoix at East Jordan
Both these teams have been tough to figure out in the early going.
Charlevoix has one of the area’s best players in Taylor Petrosky, through the Rayders haven’t been fully healthy and are a really young team across the board still, which led to a 1-6 start up against the likes of St. Ignace, TC St. Francis, Elk Rapids and others.
East Jordan has some strong pieces in Mycah Heise, Anna Richards and others, though consistency and lapses over the course of games have got in the way. Break did however end on a high note with a win over Boyne City to get to 2-4.
While there’s some games before they meet here, this one will be a nice confidence boost for whoever comes out on top and a much needed win in the new year.
Tuesday, Jan. 11
East Jordan at Charlevoix
This is always a rivalry game, though Charlevoix has really had East Jordan’s number as of late.
Things might be a bit closer this year, however.
The Red Devils started the season off 3-0 before getting a humbling moment against Boyne City before the break hit, while Charlevoix showed some up and down play in the December, as they break in a new lineup.
The one thing that’s given the Rayders issues early has been a lack of height and rebounding ability, which is exactly what East Jordan has plenty of, led by 6-foot-8 Preston Malpass, 6-foot-4 Mason Malpass and 6-foot-2 Ethan Antaya.
Charlevoix’s Evan Solomon and Caleb Suck have been strong, though the Rayders need the supporting cast to begin to step up in January.
Thursday, Jan. 13
Grayling at Boyne City
In years past, Boyne City has been a slow starting team. One that works out the kinks and tries some different lineups and playing styles before league play gets going.
Not this Rambler team. Boyne City appears to have things figured out and has been on fire.
The Ramblers averaged over 66 points a game in a 4-0 start and likely could have hit 80 in each game if the starters played throughout.
Alex Calcaterra has taken another step, Jack Neer is still lethal from outside and strong going to the basket and Mason Wilcox has been shooting the lights out of the gym.
Boyne gets a couple good tests out of the break in McBain and Elk Rapids, though I’m looking at this Grayling one.
While they’re just 2-2, the Vikings have played Boyne tough of late and that same group of Grayling athletes that Boyne’s battled with on the football field can be found on the basketball court.
Thursday, Jan. 13
Charlevoix at Harbor Springs
Charlevoix gets another chance to prove themselves against another area rival and this one shouldn’t be like years past as well.
The Rams are off to a 3-1 start under new head coach John Flynn, while taking out some past frustrations in their three wins with an average margin of victory of 31 points.
Harbor is led by a shooter once again in Jude Proctor, though they’ve also got Jack Clancy, Aaron Iafolla and others who have made strides. If the Rams are like any of Flynn’s teams of the past, they play fast too.
It might be one of the more even matchups of recent years between these two, though I don’t know if Harbor wants to really get into a shoot-off with Solomon and Stuck on the other side.
Friday, Jan. 14
Petoskey at Cadillac
Petoskey head coach Matt Tamm knows exactly what derailed his team in a pair of December losses: turnovers.
There were some expected growing pains coming with the Northmen having to break in some new guards and sophomores at the varsity level, but when you’re hitting 20-plus turnovers, that’s on everyone.
In the games where they’ve taken care of the ball, the Northmen have rolled to wins, most recently against Muskegon Heights.
Now comes a bit better competition with four straight Big North games out of the break, but this one stands out like a sore thumb.
The Vikings are off to a solid 4-1 start with only a two-point loss to Midland showing and they’ve been known to cause havoc on the defensive end of the court under head coach Ryan Benzenberg.
This will be a true test in taking care of the ball for Petoskey.
Friday, Jan. 14
Mackinaw City at Onaway
The Mackinaw City girls get a lot of love and rightfully so, though they’re not the only winning Comet team in the program.
Mackinaw’s boys opened with a win over Pellston, then took a narrow loss against a solid Brimley team and finished out December at 2-1.
They’ll get in some Northern Lakes action out of break, but this Onaway game is what I’m looking at.
The Cardinals played just one game in December, topping Pellston by 11, so there’s not much to go by, but anytime an NLC team gets the chance to test themselves against someone in the Ski Valley, my interest is there.
Mackinaw has been led by Lars Huffman in each game this season, which included a 33-point night against Brimley, though they’ve also got capable prices of Cooper Whipkey, Sabastian Pierce, Lucas Bergstrom and others.
It should come as a great measuring stick for the Comets and let the rest of Northern Michigan know how real they are.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Basketball is back: Here's the top games to look for in the next couple weeks