Chris Hass began his freshman basketball season with his sights set on breaking an MHSAA career record.
But if you’ve heard at all of the Pellston High standout, it’s probably not the record you’d think.
Hass is one of just 34 players in MHSAA history to score at least 2,000 points. Only nine players have scored more than his 2,241 points heading into Wednesday’s game against Bellaire.
That record he wanted to break? Career assists, of course. And Hass has a bunch of those too. But the 6-foot-5 senior clearly is known for scoring in bunches few in MHSAA history have equaled.
“For me, it wasn’t something where it was my goal. I definitely feel honored to play on a team that’s willing to give me an opportunity to do that,” Hass said. “I guess it’s a big deal in northern Michigan, getting our name out there. Pellston is a small school, and to hit 2,000 points, it’s starting to get Pellston on the map, which is what the community deserves.”
Hass earned one of this week’s MHSAA High 5s not just for the ridiculous numbers he’s put up this season and over the last four, but for how he’s led the Class D Hornets into at least a glimmer of the state spotlight.
Pellston is 14-1 and can avenge its lone loss tonight against Bellaire, which beat the Hornets 75-58 on Jan. 17. Bellaire is ranked No. 1 and Pellston No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press Class D state poll.
Hass has a history with Bellaire – he scored 26 points in the fourth quarter alone before fouling out in a loss last season to Eagles. That’s the fourth-most points scored in a quarter in MHSAA history – and just one of the many listings Hass has or will have in the record book after his high school career ends sometime next month.
This season, he’s averaging 30.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, six assists, 4.5 steals and 2.5 blocked shots per game. He’s always been a strong ball-handler and continues to man the point despite an ability to play any position. He’s making 55 percent of his shots from the floor – including an incredible 52-percent success clip from 3-point range (he’s made 40 from beyond the arc).
“On nights when we really don’t need him to (score), he almost disappears into the background a little bit to get his teammates involved,” Cliff Hass said. “It’s really about the team, chemistry. He’s always one of the leaders trying to get chemistry (right). Does he love to have that 57-point night? That’s great, but he’s all about winning.”
So much so that Chris Hass almost committing to play next for Bethel College (Ind.), which has won seven NAIA national championships under its current coach, before settling on Bucknell after falling in love with the program and campus during a visit. There, Hass will join 2011 Petoskey graduate Cory Starkey on a team that made the NCAA Tournament last season.
"First and foremost, Chris is just a terrific scorer," said Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen in his program’s early-signing day press release. "He is an excellent shooter with great range, but he is also athletic and `bouncy' and can get to the rim. We expect that Chris will be able to give us a real explosive offensive presence from the perimeter."
Hass’ point total is exactly 600 short of the MHSAA record set by Mio’s Jay Smith from 1976-79. It’s unlikely Hass will break that record – he’d have to average 50 points a game through the MHSAA Final just to tie it – but being in the conversation is something special in itself.
Filling it up is nothing new in the Hass family. Older sister Stephanie Hass held the MHSAA girls scoring record with 2,732 points for a decade until Central Lake’s Jasmine Hines broke it last season. Hass, who played high school at Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian – and then at Saginaw Valley State University – finished with a career scoring average of 31.4 points per game, tops in the record book.
And she never took it easy on her little brother.
Chris Hass remembered once, when he was 8 or so, getting so angry during a game of one-on-one that he started throwing rocks at his sister. But he also watched and emulated how she worked to improve her game. And around 12 years old, he beat her one-on-one for the first time.
“I do see similarities in both, offensively; ball-handling was probably their number one attribute. It’s the first thing I really noticed,” said Cliff Hass, their father and also Pellston’s boys varsity coach. “(And) they both developed that mentality of being able to score at any time.
“I tell all the players I coach, if you touch the ball 94 feet away (from the basket), your first goal is to score from 94 feet away. Being in the mentality of looking to score, you put pressure on the defense, and they have to stop you. And they might need a second person to try to stop you. “
Chris echoes his dad’s philosophy. But he wanted to make sure people saw him as more than a scorer. At Harbor Light in sixth and seventh grade, he’d been mostly a distributor passing to Collin Hewitt, who now plays at Spring Arbor. But Hass switched to his dad’s school for ninth grade, and began switching roles as well.
He still tries to get as many assists as he can. But although Pellston has other scorers (senior Andy Hamlin tallied his 1,000th career point this season), Hass knows for the Hornets to continue this run – and get a chance to show what they can do against competition from further down state – he needs to keep putting up the points.
“When you say you’re from the Petoskey area, people have no idea where that is,” Hass said. “Knowing we finally maybe might get some respect, I’m definitely excited about it.”
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)