Schoolcraft Completes Breslin Return This Time as D3's Best
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
March 26, 2022
EAST LANSING – Last season, the Schoolcraft boys basketball team came close to reaching its ultimate goal.
A year later, the Eagles were motivated to take that next step and complete what they started.
Schoolcraft defeated overall top seed Menominee 59-49 on Saturday in the Division 3 Final at Breslin Center.
The Eagles (25-2) won the program’s first Finals title since claiming Class C in 2011.
Schoolcraft advanced to the Semifinals last year and lost to Iron Mountain in overtime.
“Last year it was really cool for us to get here, but we wanted more,” said senior Ty Rykse, who helped lead Schoolcraft with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“We came into practice wanting more, and we didn't just expect to show up here and be satisfied with a great season. We wanted to win it.”
Rykse’s younger brother, sophomore Shane Rykse, also contributed sizably with 15 points as the Eagles held off a late run by the Maroons.
“We had a chip on our shoulder since Day 1, and especially against Flint Beecher (in Thursday’s Semifinal win),” Shane Rykse said. “We were counted out from the start, but we found a way to get it done.”
Ty Rykse had nine of the team’s first 15 points.
The Eagles got off to a hot start and shot a torrid 72 percent (8-of-11) from the field in the first quarter en route to a double-digit advantage (20-10).
The Maroons trimmed the deficit to 24-18 in the second quarter. However, Schoolcraft’s Eli DeVisser scored on a nifty pass from Ty Rykse during the final 30 seconds to push the lead back to 31-20 at the half.
Shane Rykse helped extend the lead late in the third quarter. A driving scoop lay-up with the left hand and an ensuing 3-pointer gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 46-28.
“They are a great tandem,” Schoolcraft coach Randy Small said of the Rykse brothers. “Ty’s leadership is phenomenal, and it was very important for him to treat his brother like a teammate.”
Eli DeVisser also finished in double figures with 14 points, while senior Tyler DeGroote had a game-high 12 rebounds and seven points.
The Eagles outrebounded the Maroons 40-25 and shot 47 percent for the game, including 50 percent (6-of-12) from behind the 3-point line.
“I thought our preparation was pretty good, and I think overall we did a pretty decent job,” Small said. “We rebounded the ball better in the second half and we continued to shoot the ball well, so I was proud of that. We hit our open shots for the most part, and it's special to get here two years in a row."
The Maroons got to within 53-45 with less than two minutes remaining, but couldn't get any closer.
“I thought we fought our hearts out, and we played hard until the end,” Menominee coach Sam Larson said. “Probably a little bit too much size and physicality at different parts of the game, and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight. We picked a poor time to have an off night, especially from the free throw line.”
Menominee (23-4), in search of its first Finals championship since 1967 in Class B, will graduate five senior starters who helped resurrect the program from a point where the varsity went 4-17 just three years ago.
“What these guys have done has changed the program,” Larson said. “They have made basketball relevant again, and you couldn’t get these seniors out of the gym. They love basketball, they love each other and they would do anything for this program.”
Seniors Brady Schultz and Aidan Bellisle led Menominee with 19 and 14 points, respectively.
PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s Tyler DeGroote (24) and his teammates celebrate at the final buzzer of their Division 3 championship win Saturday. (Middle) Shane Rykse (10) cuts between a pair of Menominee defenders. (Below) Schoolcraft’s Ty Rykse (33) gets up court as Menominee’s Brady Schultz (24) follows. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)