Ball Joins Dad, Uncle Among Elk Rapids Scoring Elite

By Tom Spencer
Special for

February 26, 2021

Riddle 1: How can a ball get passed from another to another and go through the bottom of the net resulting in three points and three of them appearing on a list on a school banner?

Riddle 2: How can three Balls from Riddle 1 represent one-third of the list?

Answer: Only one ball is a basketball. The other four Balls are all related to each other. They are Kevin Ball, Jeremy Ball, Preston Ball and Spencer Ball.

Kevin and Jeremy are brothers who played basketball during the 1990s for Elk Rapids High School. Kevin is also currently coaching the Elks. Preston and Spencer are also brothers playing today for the Elks. And, Kevin is the father of Preston and Spencer. 

As a result of the basketball being passed by Spencer to Preston in a win over Boyne City last week and Preston subsequently burying a 3-pointer, Preston became the Elks’ ninth member of the 1,000 point club joining his father and uncle.

“It is really cool,” the four-year Elk Rapids starter said of joining his father and uncle. “Three Balls on the list ... I really can’t put it into words ... it’s incredible.”

Elk Rapids boys basketball 2His father agrees.

“As a family we’re very blessed and been very fortunate to have all of our kids have success in athletics,” said the proud father of three children raised with his wife Charlotte. “So to have Preston join us is awesome. 

“We’re excited that Spencer has been a part of it as well,” he conditioned. “To be able to play with his brother is pretty special. With my brother being four years apart, we didn’t have that opportunity until after we graduated.”

Spencer and Preston have also teamed up on the soccer pitch for the Elks, who reached the Division 3 Semifinals this fall. Preston led the Elks in scoring all four years amassing 86 goals and 41 assists. Spencer assisted Preston’s final career goal and the Elks’ only goal in the Semifinal shootout loss to Grand Rapids South Christian.

And Spencer’s very first goal for the Elks was assisted by Preston.

Spencer had hopes all along he’d be the one getting the assist on the 1,000th point. It was on the sophomore’s mind as Preston neared the mark entering the game with the Ramblers. But it didn’t cross his mind in the game until play was stopped to recognize the accomplishment.

“I wanted to, but our whole team wanted to do the same thing,” Spencer noted. “They all wanted the assist on it.  

“I guess it just fell in place.”

And Preston is thrilled it did come from his brother.

“It was pretty cool the way it all turned out,” he said.

Preston currently ranks ninth among the school’s all-time career scorers. Kevin’s 1,188 points are second, and Jeremy is third on the list with 1,171. The senior is not likely to pass top scorer Luke Morrison, but topping his father and uncle may be in reach.

Elk Rapids boys basketball 3Preston recalls watching Morrison join the 1,000 point club. 

“Luke Morrison was kind of the guy I looked up to a lot,” Preston said. “Watching him throughout his career kind of inspired me.

“My dad and uncle being in the 1,000 point club was also something I wanted to join them in and coach (Brett) Graham also in the 1,000 point club,” he continued. “All three of them had a tremendous impact on my game and my life.”

Graham coached the Elks when Preston began his varsity career. Kevin was the JV coach and was happy to see his son move up to the varsity right away. Kevin took over the boys varsity last year when Graham stepped down.  

Kevin wasn’t and still isn’t sure how far Preston would go, but he knew there was a good chance Preston would join him in the 1,000 point club the day he started on the varsity. Preston’s summer camp display proved to coach Graham that he could play varsity, his father said. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

“Once he made (varsity) and once he was in that position to be a starter as a freshman, I knew he had a shot (at the 1,000 point club),” the coach said.

Both coach and son are glad to put the accomplishment behind them and move on. The Elks are 8-1 after Friday’s win over East Jordan.

“I tried to think about it as little as possible,” said the senior who is averaging nearly 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. “It felt really good to get past that benchmark.

“Hopefully people kind of stop talking about it for a little bit and I can just focus on the rest of season, play my game and just enjoy it.”

The Balls’ younger sister, Mattea, is an eighth grader. She is expected to carry on the Ball family tradition next year playing basketball for Elk Rapids.

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Preston Ball (3) went over 1,000 career points last week against Boyne City, on a basket assisted by brother Spencer (24), to join the school’s 1,000 point club with father/coach Kevin Ball (far left) and uncle Jeremy Ball (far right). (Middle) The school’s 1,000-point scorers banner will soon include Preston as well. (Below) Preston Ball brings the ball upcourt this season. (Group and banner photos courtesy of Charlotte Ball. Action shot courtesy of the Elk Rapids boys basketball program.)

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.