By MIKE ECKERT firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Northwest Conference is descending on Traverse City this week.
Three teams from the league won district titles on Friday. They’ll all be in Traverse City for regional action, setting up an exciting slate of some of northern Michigan’s top basketball teams.
Traverse City Central will host Suttons Bay and Frankfort in the Class D regional while league champion Glen Lake will be at Traverse City West for the Class C regional.
The regional semifinals are today with the finals on Wednesday.
“Our league was tough,” Frankfort coach Reggie Manville said. “We beat Glen Lake, they won. We beat Suttons Bay, they won. We had a tough schedule for Class D, but it really pays off in the playoffs. It says a lot about our conference.”
The Panthers were leading the Northwest Conference race midway through the regular season, but hit a bump to close out the regular season with four losses in the last five games.
That was all erased last week in the Mesick district, as Frankfort posted wins over Buckley, Bear Lake and Onekema to repeat as district champions.
Frankfort (18-5) will take on Baldwin (18-4) at 6 p.m. today.
In the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m., Suttons Bay (10-12) will look to stay hot against unbeaten Bellaire (22-0).
The Norsemen have won seven of their last eight games, including Friday’s 54-47 victory over TC Christian for the district title.
Standing in their way are the Eagles, who are back to defend their regional title.
The two teams met early last month with Bellaire securing a 55-35 road win. However, Suttons Bay kept the game close until the late, and was playing without its starting point guard.
For Glen Lake, playing close in the Class C regional will be a nice change of pace after winning last week’s district at Boyne City.
“We like the 20-minute travel time,” Lakers coach Todd Hazelton said. “That’s going to be nice after three trips with travel time of an hour 45 minutes.”
Not only will it be a lot shorter trip for the Lakers, but it will also be familiar territory playing at TC West.
“There’s going to be a lot of support, so hopefully that’ll help us through,” Glen Lake senior Parker Kokowicz said. “We’ve practiced there and we play there over the summer, so we’re pretty comfortable there.”
Glen Lake (21-2) heads into the regional for the first time since 2002. The Lakers are riding a 12-game winning streak, including a pair of victories over last year’s state finalist St. Francis.
Monday’s opponent is Lincoln Alcona (15-5), which won its district with a 52-39 double-overtime victory over Tawas.
Tipoff for Glen Lake follows the opener of Shelby (15-8) and Pine River (20-2) at 6 p.m.