Bates, Lincoln Land in 1st Hoops Final

March 15, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Emoni Bates was here to help, he told his teammates before beginning his freshman year at Ypsilanti Lincoln in the fall.

That’s one very understated way to put what the nationally-renowned freshman has meant to the Railsplitters during their most successful season.

Bates, and Lincoln, played in their first MHSAA Semifinal on Friday, and the 6-foot-10 phenom showed as expected – he flashed skill and poise and brought roars with a pair of dunks, including one from a pass off the backboard.

And Lincoln continued to perform as he expected when he joined an otherwise veteran lineup, making an incredible 57 percent of its shots from the floor in a 72-56 win over Howell to earn a berth in Saturday’s Division 1 championship game.

“My teammates … when I told them I was coming (to Lincoln), I told them I was just helping them, and I told them if we just keep working hard every day we’d be here,” Bates said. “I just knew I trusted them. I trust them, and they trust me, and that’s how we got here.”

Lincoln (22-4) will play for its first championship against Detroit U-D Jesuit at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.   

Playing on the Breslin Center floor for the first time, in front of a mostly full lower bowl, has derailed many an MHSAA championship hopeful.

But there might not be a player, and team, in recent memory that has been more prepared for a trip to East Lansing than Bates and Lincoln.

Buzz around the nationally-renowned freshman started high this winter and has only continued to grow as he’s keyed the Railsplitters’ run to its first Regional title, then Semifinals and now championship game.

He had 31 points – on 55 percent shooting – and 14 rebounds against Howell, and his teammates followed suit showing no effects from the big-arena atmosphere by sinking 59 percent of their shots.

“It was just fun. We battled all game, he’s taller than me and was shooting over my head, and I couldn’t really do anything about it,” said Howell senior Josh Palo, an all-state honorable mention last season and one of those charged with defending Bates on Friday. “I was definitely looking forward to guarding him. Our game plan was making him take tough shots. He was knocking them down. We couldn’t do anything about it.”

Bates’ first basket was a 3-pointer with 3:52 left in the first quarter that made the score 10-4. The Railsplitters never led by fewer than six points the rest of the way.

Senior forward Amari Frye added 12 points while making half his shots from the floor, and senior guard Tahj Chatman made all four of his shots from the floor for 10 points to go with four assists.   

“I’ve been on varsity four years, and the added pressure, I tell him all the time to put the pressure he gets and put it on me,” Chatman said. “I feel we’re here for him. We all embrace him. There’s no jealousy or none of that. We embrace him all the way.”

Lincoln starts four seniors with Bates, and after going 10-11 in coach Jesse Davis’ first season three seasons ago posted back-to-back winning records before breaking through this winter.

“I envisioned everything that we’re doing right now,” Davis said. “We just worked toward it. Of course I need these guys learning it, (buying in) to what I’m saying and what I’m doing and what I’m teaching them. But yes, I envisioned this for the program.”

Howell (20-7) took a similar step with its program this winter, with Friday’s Semifinal the team’s first since 1927. The Highlanders first won their third straight District title and finished with their highest win total of Howell coach Nick Simon’s seven seasons leading the program.

Palo, one of four seniors in the starting lineup, had 16 points in his final high school game. Junior guard Tony Honkala had 12 points off the bench, and senior forward Jake Sargeant had 11 points and six rebounds for the Highlanders.

“Our guys believed in this for a long time,” Simon said. “It’s not just something that’s happened at the end of the year.

“I knew we could do it, and they knew we could do it all year. We went through tough battles, went against tough opponents in the playoffs, and we were used to that tough competition. We respected them, but we were not fearful at all.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Emoni Bates throws down one of his two dunks during Friday’s Division 1 Semifinal. (Middle) Howell players work to break up a pass.

Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys Report Week 1

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 4, 2023

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.

BMI Student Aidut 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.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at

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).

Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory.

Watch List

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.

Can’t-Miss Contests

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.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

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.)