Boys Finals: Your Dose of C and D

March 21, 2012

One thing is certain to happen this weekend at the often-unpredictable MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals:

We will have a first-time Class D champion. And there's a decent chance the Class C champion could feel like a first-timer as well.

All four Class D Semifinalists will be playing today for a first championship game berth. Only Traverse City St. Francis among Class C Semifinalists has never made a championship game -- but Flint Beecher is seeking its first MHSAA title since 1987, and Shelby its first since 1972.

Not that Schoolcraft is out of sight, out of mind. The Eagles are back at the Breslin Center to defend their Class C title, and with an all-stater to lead the way. 

Below is a schedule for today's Semifinals and all four Saturday Finals. Tickets cost $8 per session, and parking at Michigan State is $5. All Semifinals will be streamed live at along with the press conferences after each, and the C and D Finals both will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit. Click for scores as they come in, and return to Second Half for coverage of all 12 games this weekend at Breslin.

Today's Semifinals
Class C

Flint Beecher (26-0) vs. Schoolcraft (22-4) - 1 p.m.
Traverse City St. Francis (24-2) vs Shelby (24-2) - 2:50 p.m.
Class D

Muskegon Catholic Central (17-9) vs. Southfield Christian (22-2) - 6 p.m.
Climax-Scotts (25-1) vs. Carney-Nadeau (23-2) - 7:50 p.m.

Saturday's Finals
Class A - 4 p.m.
Class B - 8 p.m.
Class C - Noon
Class D - 10 a.m.

Now, a look at this season's Class C and D Semifinalists (Click for glances at Class A and B Semifinalists.):

Class C

26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Blue
Coach: Mike Williams, eighth season (137-61)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently Class B in 1987), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 63-49 over No. 4 Madison Heights Madison (Regional Semifinal), 38-36 (OT) over No. 3 Detroit Consortium (Regional Final), 59-55 over honorable mention River Rouge (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Monte Morris (6-3 jr. G – 18.3 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 spg), Antuan Burks (5-9 sr. G – 12.6 ppg, 34 3-pointers).
Outlook: This is the third straight season Beecher has made it to the Semifinals – last season the Buccaneers lost in overtime to eventual runner-up McBain. But this might be the season they break through led by Morris, the Class C Player of the Year by The Associated Press for the second straight season.

22-4, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Coach: Randy Small, eighth season (161-34)
Championship history: One MHSAA title (2011), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 55-52 over No. 2 Pewamo-Westphalia (Quarterfinal), 65-52 over honorable mention Bloomingdale (Regional Final), 68-58 over Olivet.
Player to watch: Luke Ryskamp (6-3 jr. F – 23.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg).
Outlook: A team with seven seniors including all-stater Ryskamp will try to defend its 2011 championship. Senior Bryan Jones, a 6-2 forward, also started in last season’s Class C Final. Schoolcraft avenged two of its losses during the District tournament, and can extend a solid run by Small that has included six league titles in eight seasons and three Regional titles over the last four.

24-2, No. 8
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Rick Zoulek, 27th season (385-221)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 1972), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 60-41 over honorable mention New Haven (Quarterfinal), 69-59 over North Muskegon.
Players to watch: David Beckman, Jr. (6-3 sr. F – 13.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Lucas Landis (6-4 sr. F – 12.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg).
Outlook: Shelby is big in the frontcourt with Beckman and Landis getting additional help from 6-5 senior center Jeremiah James (11.3 ppg). Guards Cody Stotler and Kody Plummer round out an all-senior starting line-up that has Shelby back in the conversation among Class C’s best. Total, the team boasts eight seniors. Its only losses were to North Muskegon and Class B Semifinalist Muskegon Heights.

24-2, No. 5
League finish: First in Lake Michigan Conference
Coach: Keith Haske, second season (39-9)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 67-42 over Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 68-52 over No. 7 Clare (Regional Final), 71-60 over honorable mention Negaunee (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Sean Sheldon (6-9 sr. F – 21 ppg, 11 rpg), Devin Sheehy (5-11 sr. G – 12 ppg, 7.0 apg, 5.0 spg).
Outlook: Haske has St. Francis at Breslin Center after bringing Charlevoix to the Finals multiple times. Sheldon, an all-stater, is one of two 6-9 players on the team and one of three 6-4 or taller in the main rotation. The Gladiators have mauled their postseason competition so far by an average margin of 24.8 points per game.

Class D

23-2, honorable mention
League finish: First in Skyline and Central Upper Peninsula conferences
Coach: Jacob Polfus, fourth season (60-30)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 57-51 over No. 7 Munising (Regional Final), 72-56 over No. 2 Pellston (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Lucas Moreau (5-10 sr. G – 18.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.9 apg), Wade Schetter (5-10 jr. G – 18.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 5.0 spg).
Outlook: Carney-Nadeau is led by high-scoring guards Moreau and Schetter, who have scored nearly 60 percent of the team’s points this season. Sophomore guard Keenan Lampinen adds 10.4 more points per game for a team boasting only one starter that stands even 6-1. That hasn’t seemed to matter much during a 20-game winning streak, which included wins over the two opponents who beat the Wolves early.

25-1, No. 5
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association
Coach: Steve Critchlow, first season (25-1)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 54-49 over honorable mention North Adams-Jerome, 50-39 over Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Malachi Satterlee (6-7 jr. F – 18.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg), Aaron Cook (6-7 jr. F – 10 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg).
Outlook: Satterlee was named all-state earlier this week and keys a towering frontcourt that also gets 9.5 points per game from 6-2 forward Jacob Hinga. Climax-Scotts hasn’t faced a team ranked in the top 10 of the state polls at the end of the regular season, but dominated its competition – its lone loss was by four to Kalamazoo Phoenix, and since the Panthers have won 11 of 12 games by double figures.

17-9, unranked
League finish: Fourth in River Valley Conference
Coach: David Ingles, second season (32-19)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 48-43 over No. 10 Fulton-Middleton (Regional Final), 61-50 over No. 4 Bellaire (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Jason Ribecky (6-4 sr. C – 19.1 ppg), Cari Campbell (6-3 jr. F – 11.4 ppg).
Outlook: Ribecky earned an all-state honorable mention earlier this week and has put the team on his shoulders during the tournament run – the Crusaders have beaten every playoff opponent by double figures except reigning runner-up Fulton. This is the longest run by Muskegon Catholic since it won its Class C Regional in 1999.

22-2, tied for No. 7
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference
Coach: Josh Baker, first season (22-2)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 78-77 over Belleville, 70-57 and 67-64 over Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, 98-84 over honorable mention Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (Quarterfinal).
Players to watch: Gavin Toma (6-2 sr. G – 19.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Chris Dewberry (6-2 sr. G – 16.2 ppg, 4.4 apg), Lindsey Hunter III (6-1 sr. G – 15.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.0 apg), Lindsey Hunter IV (5-11 soph. G – 11.9 ppg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian’s record is especially impressive considering the number of much larger schools it faced this season – the losses came to Class A power Southfield (by two points) and Class B Semifinalist Detroit Country Day. All four postseason wins have come by double figures (Southfield Christian also won one by forfeit.) The Hunters III and IV are the sons of the former Detroit Pistons guard by the same name.

PHOTO: Flint Beecher's Monte Morris had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his team's 70-66 Semifinal loss to McBain in last season's Class C Semifinal. He's back to lead Beecher again today.

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers

By Tom Kendra
Special for

June 7, 2023

Walter “Stretch” Hansen and Harold Tate were good friends and high school basketball and baseball teammates at Hart High School, graduating in 1943.

West MichiganNo one could have guessed that less than two months after graduation (on July 2, 1943), the two friends would head to Fort Custer in Battle Creek, the first stop on their way overseas to fight for their country in World War II.

No one could have imagined how many twists and turns their lives would take over the next 80 years – from the battlefields in the South Pacific, then back to West Michigan where they both were married with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now Harold even has a great-great-grandchild.

And, certainly, no one would have believed that the two young boys from Hart – who forged a friendship through high school sports long before the days of computers, microwave ovens and cell phones – would still be alive at the age of 98 for an emotional reunion last month, on May 22, seeing each other for the first time in 80 years and, to cap it off, the reunion took place in their hometown of Hart.

“It was such a great day,” Hansen said about the meeting, which was set up by Muskegon-area World War II historian Richard Mullally.

“We picked right up, talking about sports and the service and everything else.”

The conversation came easy for the two old friends, who played for Hart during a “golden era” at the school – particularly in basketball, as the Pirates won 11 West Michigan Conference basketball titles between 1940 and 1954.

Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. Perhaps the best team during that time period was Hansen and Tate’s as seniors in 1943. That team lost only once, to rival Scottville (31-25), but more than made up for it with an 80-10 trouncing of the Spartans in the final regular-season game.

Hart then crushed Scottville and Newaygo to win the District championship, only to have Michigan’s prep basketball season stopped abruptly at that point because of World War II.

That 1943 team featured four starters over 6-0, led by the duo of Hansen and Stan Kapulak (both 6-6), Joe Mack (6-2), Lyle Burmeister (6-1) and Stanley Riley (the lone starter under 6-foot at 5-11).

“The newspapers called us ‘The Hart Skyscrapers,’” said Hansen, who will be 99 on Nov. 6. “We were taller than most college teams at that time.”

Hansen and Tate’s friendship continued to blossom on the baseball field, only to have their lives turned upside down shortly after graduation 80 years ago, when all Hart senior boys who had been drafted headed to Battle Creek as a brief staging area on their way to the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.

Hansen served in the Army Specialized Training Program and was part of the 52nd Signal Battalion and the 4025th Signal Battalion in the Pacific Theater.

“I had an all-expense paid tour of the South Pacific,” Hansen said with a chuckle. “The Philippines, New Guinea, Okinawa, Hawaii, all over the place.”

Tate did his service in the 24th Infantry Division and the 19th Infantry Regiment, and was stationed in Japan.

During their visit last month, Harold showed off the Japanese Samurai sword and Arisaka rifle which he had sent back from Japan to Hart. The week after their visit, both took part in Memorial Day parades – Hansen in the Lakeside parade in Muskegon and Tate in his 77th Memorial Day service in Hart.

Hansen, who still has a home on a small lake in Holton and lives at a senior care facility in Muskegon, played many years of semi-pro basketball and did some coaching. He worked at GTE and has five children and 10 grandchildren.

Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II.“I have been so blessed,” Hansen said, sorting through one of his many scrapbooks. “All five of my kids are great and I have grandkids that are just amazing, everything they are doing. I don’t even know all of their names, but it’s sure been fun watching them.”

Tate returned to Hart after his military service and has been there ever since, at first working as a carpenter with his father and then becoming a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring 26 years ago at the age of 72. He has lived in the same home for 75 years and has three children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandkids and now one great-great-grandchild.

Tate laments the demise of his beloved American Legion post in Hart, a town with just over 2,000 residents, as the number of members has steadily declined.

One topic that brings a smile to both of their faces is the recent resurgence of the Hart High School athletic program, which drew media attention not too many years ago for all the wrong reasons – notably a football program which went 24 years without a winning record.

That string was snapped with a 6-3 mark and the school’s first earned playoff appearance last fall.

But that was just the start.

This winter, Hart’s boys basketball team finished the regular season 22-0, the girls basketball team made it to the Division 3 Semifinals at the Breslin Center, wrestling qualified for the Team Finals for the fourth-straight year and competitive cheer placed fourth in Division 4. This spring, the Hart girls track & field team won its second-straight Division 3 Finals team title, and the boys placed fourth.

“It’s a great place to call home, a great place to live, always has been,” said Hansen of his hometown, which got its name from its central position in the “heart” of Oceana County.

And who would have imagined that these two high school teammates could still come home again for a reunion at the age of 98?

Tom KendraTom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Members of the 1943 Hart High School varsity baseball team gather together, preparing for a team photo. Among those are Harold Gayle Tate (far left) and Walter "Stretch" Hansen, at 6-6 the tallest player in the back row. (Middle) Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. (Below) Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. (Top photo courtesy of Stretch Hansen. Middle and below photos courtesy of Richard Mullally.)