JONESVILLE – Jeff Turner’s coaching career has come full circle – and it took only about 25 years.
Turner graduated from Jonesville High School in 1986, after playing for longtime coach Bill Dunn as a senior. After coaching stops in Morenci and Dundee in southeast Michigan, Turner landed a job at Traverse City Central in 2007. Now, he’s back where it all started – at Jonesville.
“It’s been great,” Turner said on the eve of playing Reading tonight in a Big 8 Conference showdown. “The players and coaches have been working hard to implement the program philosophies.”
Turner’s Comets are 5-1 in the Big 8, tied atop the league with Reading. Tonight’s game will go a long way toward deciding this year’s champion.
“Things are definitely going well,” Turner said.
Championships and successful seasons have long been a part of Turner’s history. He got the coaching bug while attending Hillsdale College. He credits Dunn and Greg Morrison, his football coach at Jonesville, with prepping him to coach one day.
“I coached the JV basketball team for Coach Dunn for four years while I attended college,” Turner said. “He was a huge influence on my coaching and a big reason why I coach today.”
After his student-teaching and a short time as an assistant at Morenci, Turner got the head coaching job at Dundee. He made the Vikings into a perennial Lenawee County Athletic Association contender. He took over a program that had gone through six straight losing seasons, and went 94-57 and won or shared four league titles over seven years. His 2002-03 team won 19 games, his best year to date.
He then left Dundee and headed north, landing at Traverse City Central.
“It was a dream job,” he said. “We had always wanted to live up north. It was a good move for us at the time. It was a big school, and I met a lot of challenges.”
After 10 seasons in Traverse City, Turner said he made the decision to move back downstate for his family. His wife, Amy, and daughter have been chronically ill with autoimmune diseases for years and had been making frequent trips to the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor.
“They’ve been following me for 20 years,” Turner said. “I said it was time for me to follow them.”
He got a teaching and coaching job at Allegan High School, where he coached for three seasons. It was a good fit for him and his family.
“I didn’t really have any plans to leave Allegan, but the hometown team opened up,” Turner said. “It was hard to pass that up. It just makes sense to be closer to home.”
He was hired in mid-June and started holding basketball workouts when it was allowed. He coached JV football in the fall and feels right at home at Jonesville.
“I was super excited when the season started,” Turner said. “It was kind of like Christmas in a way. For our seniors it was a big thing that we were able to play. It was a big sigh of relief for them.
“There are people here that I went to school with,” Turner added. “It’s nice seeing some familiar faces. I have some good memories here. It’s been a great transition. Everybody has been very accepting of my coaching.”
His son, Zeke, is part of his coaching staff at Jonesville.
“It’s awesome,” he said about coaching with his son. “He grew up within my system and knows it very well. He played for me at Traverse City and his senior year at Allegan.”
In the classroom, Turner teaches middle school science.
Not everything is the same in his hometown. Jonesville opened a new gym in 2000 where Turner now directs practices and games.
“It’s a good change of pace here,” he said. “It’s been fun. I’m teaching kids where I knew their parents.”
There are other familiarities being back in southeast Michigan. One of his players is senior Connor Lauwers. Lauwers is the grandson of former Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central coach Ray Lauwers, who coached the Falcons for 42 years, winning more than 600 career games. Turner got to know him while coaching at nearby Dundee.
“Coach Lauwers has been a big influence on me as well,” Turner said. “He’s a really good person.”
On the court, Jonesville started the season with four straight wins, including a 48-35 victory over Reading. A loss to Homer is the only blemish on the schedule. Those three teams are tied atop the league at 4-1. Turner is one away from 200 varsity wins over his combined 21 seasons.
“It’s a pretty good league,” Turner said. “You have to come prepared every night. Every game is a challenge.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Jonesville's boys basketball team huddles around Jeff Turner during a game this season. (Middle) Turner, left, with his son Zeke during their time together at Allegan. (Top photo by Brian Playford, middle photo courtesy of Turner family).
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.