Beecher's Journey Turns Toward Familiar Destination

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for

April 8, 2021

EAST LANSING – Within three days of each other last April, members of the Flint Beecher High School basketball family lost loved ones to COVID-19.

One was the father of head coach Mike Williams.

While winning a sixth Division 3 championship Saturday won’t take the sting out of their losses, the Bucs (15-1) moved one step closer to another title with a 47-34 Semifinal victory over Hanover-Horton (20-2) on Thursday at the Breslin Center.

“I lost big time a year ago on the (April) 13th,’’ said Williams. “This has been a long road. This week is special to me because of things that probably don’t need to be said. This season for me has been about the journey, not necessarily the championship. It has been about showing strength for my family, for our families and our community and the people that have lost during this pandemic.’’

A stingy defense and an offense led by senior Keyon Menifield Jr. and Carmelo Harris paced the Bucs. Both scored 15 points for the winners.

“They are such a great defensive team,’’ said Hanover-Horton coach Chad Mortimer. “I thought our zone was good in the third quarter, but at the other end we couldn’t make shots. We went 2 for 19 from three. We just couldn’t make shots.’’

Conner Mortimer – Chad’s son – and Brogan Brockie combined for 25 points.

Beecher/Hanover-Horton Division 3 Semifinal 2

“Nobody expected us to be here, so we exceeded expectations,’’ said Conner.

Trailing by 13 to start the third quarter, Hanover-Horton went to a zone defense and trimmed the deficit to 25-17 on a three-point play by Carson Sanders.

Beecher had issues with the zone and watched the lead dwindle. The Bucs were held scoreless to start the second half until a floater by Menifield with 2:33 left in the third got them on the board.

“We just had to be patient and figure out how to attack their zone,’’ said Menifield.

A layup just before the buzzer by James Cummings II gave Beecher a 32-20 lead with eight minutes to play and the Comets still shooting under 30 percent from the field.

With the lead, the Bucs were content to run clock and play keep-away. When the Comets were forced to go back to a man-to-man defense, the Beecher offense went into high gear again, opening up a 40-26 lead on a lay-in by Harris.

Williams, who is in his 17th season at the helm, clearly had his team ready for the challenge as the Bucs’ speed and quickness started to assert itself in the second quarter.

Beecher led 12-8 after one but scored the first nine points of the second quarter to opened up a 21-8 lead on a lay-in by Taylin Muldrew.

The Comets finally ended their drought on a basket by Brockie.

Undaunted, the Bucs scored the next four points to increase the lead to 25-10 as the Comets had trouble penetrating the quick man-to-man defense.

Menifield led all scorers at the half with 11 points as Beecher was ahead 25-12.

Beecher shot 42.3 percent from the floor in the first half and held the Comets to 24 percent and scoreless from 3-point range.

Click for full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Beecher's Carmelo Harris pulls up for a jumper during Thursday's first Division 3 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Middle) Hanover-Horton's Brogan Brockie gets up a shot. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Second-Half Surge Sends Tri-unity Christian to 3rd-Straight Final

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 23, 2023

EAST LANSING — The Defenders will once again have a chance to do just that.

In what has become a usual rite of March during longtime head coach Mark Keeler’s 36-year tenure, the Wyoming Tri-unity Christian Defenders are once again headed for the Division 4 boys basketball championship game following a 54-37 win over Frankfort in a Semifinal on Thursday.

Making its third-straight appearance in a Final and 11th in school history, Tri-unity Christian will attempt to repeat as champion when it faces Munising in the 10 a.m. title game Saturday. 

Junior Owen Rosendall scored 13 points and senior Roy Fogg added 11 on Thursday to lead Tri-unity Christian (22-6), which will go for its sixth Finals win. 

“At the beginning of the year, we had some ups and downs in the season,” Rosendall said. “But we stuck to it and kept working.”

Tri-unity Christian got it done mainly by dominating the board, collecting a 41-22 rebounding advantage.  

Emmerson Farmer (0) gets a hand up high as Owen Rosendall puts up a jumper.“I think our quickness on the boards outdid their size,” Keeler said. “I was really happy with how explosive we were on the boards.”

The discrepancy even surprised Frankfort head coach Dan Loney, who said rebounding has been a strength of his team all year. 

“Going into the game, I would not have guessed they would have outrebounded us like that,” Loney said. “It’s one thing we’ve done well all year. I think honestly a lot of that came from their guard play. When their guards got to the rim (and) our bigs stepped over to help, their bigs were there to get their missed layups.”

Sophomore Carter Kerby led all scorers with 21 points to pace Frankfort (18-9). 

“It was a fun season for sure. We look forward to the future,” Loney said. 

Tri-unity Christian separated itself in the third quarter after Frankfort cut the lead to 29-26 with 4:40 to go in the period.

From there, Tri-unity Christian ended the third on an 11-1 run to take a 40-27 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We have a little more depth, and it helped,” Keeler said. “We were really trying to push the ball, and we were really trying to pressure them on defense. I think we wore them down a little bit.”

The Defenders continued to grow the lead in the fourth, taking a 48-32 advantage with 4:17 remaining after a 3-pointer by Rosendall and a basket by Akais Giplaye. 

Tri-Unity Christian forced Frankfort into 12 turnovers and 38.9-percent shooting from the field while committing only six turnovers itself.

“We played great defense,” Keeler said. “That is what I was really happy about. We made them work for everything they had.”

Tri-unity Christian got off to a good start, taking a 16-8 lead after the first quarter before Frankfort settled in during the second. 

Frankfort outscored Tri-unity Christian 13-9 in the second quarter to cut its deficit to 25-21 by halftime. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Tri-unity’s Jordan VanKlompenberg (3) puts up a shot over the outstretched arm of Frankfort’s Xander Sauer on Thursday. (Middle) Emmerson Farmer (0) gets a hand up high as Owen Rosendall puts up a jumper.