Bad Memory Fades with Eagles' Fast Start

March 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – In case his players didn’t remember the heartache, Southfield Christian coach Josh Baker made sure they remembered.

Every practice, he’d mention last season’s Class D Semifinal loss to Powers North Central, decided in overtime on a last-second shot.

The Eagles never let Thursday’s return to the Semifinals get that far, or that close.

Southfield Christian opened up a double-digit lead before Dollar Bay scored its first point, and finished with a 71-32 victory at the Breslin Center.

“The mindset was just completely different this year,” Southfield Christian senior Bryce Washington said. “Coach brings up every day in practice that loss last year, how we have to play our hardest every possession. You see defensively we’ve been a lot better in the playoffs. It’s just played into our game.”

The Eagles (22-4) will play at 10 a.m. Saturday for their fourth Class D title this decade and first since 2014, against either Buckley or Hillsdale Academy.

Defense indeed is a renewed strength for Southfield Christian, and the 32 points were 13 fewer than Dollar Bay’s season low this winter.

Hand in hand with that improved defense is the team’s increased depth – and it played a major role in shutting the Blue Bolts down as Baker rotated multiple players to handle Dollar Bay seniors Devin Schmitz and Jaden Janke. They combined to score only 17 points.

“Last year we (played) about six or seven guys every game,” Eagles junior guard Harlond Beverly said. “This year we go 9-10 deep, and that makes it a lot easier for all of us … to get a two-minute break every game, come back in and keep that energy going.  

The Blue Bolts (26-1) responded to the opening run with a 13-11 stretch, and Schmitz’ 3-pointer with 2:17 to play in the second quarter pulled his team within 12 of the lead.

It would get that close one more time 44 seconds later, but never closer.

Dollar Bay coach Jesse Kentala and his players all admitted it was just about impossible to prepare for Southfield Christian’s speed, even as the Blue Bolts often have that advantage on opponents.

“That was the first time anyone’s matched our speed,” Kentala said. “We’ve kinda lived off being able to go by guys and exposing defenses. I think we were shocked because the first three or four minutes of that game, we couldn’t go by them. And (my players) kept looking at me going, ‘Coach, what do you want us to do?’

“They are so fast and such active defenders … we just don’t see athleticism like we saw tonight.”

Washington led Southfield Christian (22-5) with 23 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Junior guard Caleb Hunter added 17 points, four assists and five steals and Beverly – who opened the game with a reverse dunk – added 12 points and four steals. Junior guard Jon Sanders had 10 points and three assists off the bench.

Janke had 12 points, six rebounds and two steals to lead the Blue Bolts in all three categories.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Southfield Christian’s Harlond Beverly throws down a dunk during his team’s Class D Semifinal win Thursday. (Middle) Dollar Bay’s Devin Schmitz (20) works to get around Southfield Christian’s Rahmon Scruggs.

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)