Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Quarterfinal Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 22, 2022
We have reached the final week of winter on the MHSAA calendar, and the final game before one more Breslin-bound trip closes our season.
Below is a look at all 16 Boys Basketball Quarterfinals that will be played across the state this evening. Times are included where two are at the same site – the rest tip-off at 7 p.m. EST. Click here for the full schedule.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (20-4) vs. Warren De La Salle Collegiate (17-7) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5:30 p.m.
No opponents playing Tuesday are more familiar with each other, as the Eaglets won these Detroit Catholic League Central rivals’ first two meetings by two in double overtime and then 13. St. Mary’s has a number of scorers including senior JaVaughn Hannah (16.5 ppg), freshman Trey McKenney (15.8) and senior Kareem Rozier (15.8), with Rozier a Mr. Basketball finalist. De La Salle can rely on a number of contributors as well with six players averaging between 8-11 points per game, led by senior Tamario Adley at 11.3 ppg. Six of its seven losses this season were in league play, and 12 of its 13 nonleague wins were by double digits.
Grand Rapids Northview (24-1) vs. Kalamazoo Central (16-7) at Middleville Thornapple Kellogg
Senior Kyler VanderJagt paces a Northview team set to play in its first Quarterfinal since 2006 and with its only loss this season to Grand Rapids Christian. The Wildcats’ tournament run has included impressive wins over Rockford and Muskegon. Kalamazoo Central started this season 2-4 but has gone 14-3 since with those three losses by a combined four points. Seniors Thomas Dillard IV and Scott Hughes and junior Hutch Ward all average between 14-16 points per game.
Grand Blanc (19-5) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (16-8) at Saginaw Heritage
The reigning Division 1 champion Bobcats have won 17 of their last 18 games, with junior RJ Taylor (16.8 ppg, 51 3-pointers) among standouts who’ve put Grand Blanc in position to return to Breslin. Similar to De La Salle, seven of DCC’s eight losses came to Catholic League Central opponents, which no doubt helped the Shamrocks further prep for this tournament run. Sophomore T.J. Nadeau (13.4) leads four DCC players averaging double-digit scoring, and he’s made 39 percent of his 3-point attempts for 43 total.
Belleville (18-6) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (21-3) at University of Detroit Mercy, 7:30 p.m.
The Technicians emerged from one of the strongest Districts in the state and added a pair of 20-point Regional wins to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1998. Freshman Darius Acuff has made his presence immediately felt with team bests of 16.2 points and 6.1 assists per game. Four Belleville starters average at least 10 points apiece, with senior Da’Jon Johnson leading the way at 12.1 ppg. The Tigers’ first five losses were by a combined 12 points and included one double and one triple-overtime defeat before Belleville went on to win eight of its last nine.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (23-1) vs. Benton Harbor (22-2) at Calvin University
The reigning Division 2 champion Cougars have lost only once this season, early to 2021 Division 3 champ Flint Beecher, and handed Hudsonville Unity Christian its only loss of the season on the way to this Quarterfinal rematch with the Tigers. GRCC won last year’s Quarterfinal 83-72. Four standouts average at least 11 points per game, with junior Kaden Brown tops at 21 and with 65 3-pointers. The Tigers have won 10 straight since their most recent defeat, to Division 3 quarterfinalist Detroit Edison, with the other loss to Division 1 Muskegon. Junior Grant Gondrezick II scores 21 points per game to lead four averaging at least 11 ppg.
Ferndale (20-3) vs. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (17-7) at St. Clair Country Community College
Ferndale is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the second-straight season and prepped again facing a number of the state’s best teams. All three of the Eagles’ losses came to teams playing in Division 1 Quarterfinals – De La Salle, St. Mary’s and Grand Blanc – and the De La Salle and Grand Blanc defeats were in double and single overtime, respectively. Notre Dame Prep is coming off its second Regional title and first since 1998. Seniors Jack Olis and Jonathan Risi and sophomore Wade Robinson all average between 15-16 ppg and have made at least 44 3-pointers apiece.
Williamston (24-0) vs. Detroit Edison (19-5) at Chelsea
Williamston has played one single-digit game all season as it returns to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2018 seeking its first Semifinal berth since 2016. The Hornets’ most notable postseason victory was a 57-38 Regional Semifinal win over previously-undefeated Onsted. Edison started this season 0-4 but its only loss since was in its league tournament semifinal against Romulus Summit Academy North – and Edison avenged that defeat with a 42-41 Regional Final win. Junior guard Bryce Eaton sets the scoring pace at 22.5 points per game.
Cadillac (19-5) vs. Freeland (24-0) at Central Montcalm
Cadillac has been on a roll with wins over Benzie Central (20-4) in the regular season finale and Standish-Sterling (21-2) and Escanaba (19-5) in last week’s Regional. But next up is Freeland, which has played three single-digit games all season on the way to reaching the final week undefeated. Senior Cole Jenema leads Cadillac with 19.8 ppg, while Freeland is paced by senior Josh Elliott (18.5) leading three who average 13.5 or more points per contest.
Menominee (21-3) vs. Grayling (15-9) at Sault Ste. Marie
The Maroons entered the postseason the No. 1 overall seed in Division 3 and reached the final week for the first time since 2008 with an overtime win in the Regional Final over Benzie Central. Senior Aidan Bellisle sets the pace at 15.4 points and 4.8 assists per game. Grayling will be playing in its first Quarterfinal since 1957 in part thanks to handing Mesick (21-1) its only loss this season in a District Final. Senior Dylan Cragg leads a balanced attack at 13.1 ppg.
Bath (17-6) vs. Ecorse (8-12) at Jackson Lumen Christi
A series of forfeits over the first two months of the season has left Ecorse with this record but didn’t diminish its status as a likely Division 3 contender. The Raiders have proved it handing Riverview Gabriel Richard (19-1) its only loss in a District Semifinal and edging Erie Mason (18-6) last week. Senior Ethan Swenson has led Bath back to the Quarterfinals for the first time since its Class C championship season of 2007.
Pewamo-Westphalia (20-4) vs. Schoolcraft (22-2) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
P-W has won 18 of its last 19 games, with the lone defeat during that time to Division 2 undefeated quarterfinalist Freeland. Junior Jamison Eklund scores 17 points as a 6-foot-5 post presence with perimeter game. One of the Pirates’ early losses came against Schoolcraft, 61-32 at Cornerstone University on Dec. 30. That victory started a 20-game winning streak for the Eagles, who get a double-double from 6-7 senior Tyler DeGroote (16.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg).
New Haven (17-7) vs. Flint Beecher (21-2) at Burton Bendle
Beecher is seeking a repeat this week with its only losses this season to Division 1 Detroit Martin Luther King (19-3) and Grand Blanc. Two starters and the top sub are back from last season’s championship team. New Haven’s five straight Quarterfinal appearances from 2015-19 were all in Class B/Division 2, and the Rockets played a schedule loaded with larger opponents this winter. Juniors Trevon Jeffery (11.6) and Dezmond Gilleylen (11.2) lead a lineup with five players averaging at least seven points per game.
Ewen-Trout Creek (21-3) vs. Rudyard (23-1) at Munising
Rudyard, a semifinalist last season, has lost only to St. Ignace by a point in overtime this winter and got past Onaway (22-2) in the Regional Final. Senior 6-8 center Tate Besteman (16.5 ppg, 10 rpg) teams with senior guard EJ Suggitt (15.9 ppg, 58 3-pointers) for a powerful inside-out punch. Ewen-Trout Creek advanced with a win over Powers North Central (19-5) to reach the final week for the first time since 2008. Senior Jaden Borseth (18.8 ppg) leads a strong perimeter attack.
Lake Leelanau St. Mary (20-4) vs. Fulton (14-11) at Lake City
St. Mary is making its first Quarterfinal trip since 1950, and second in program history. The Eagles’ three losses were to Rudyard and three Division 3 teams, and juniors Dylan Barnowski (21.2) and Shawn Bramer (20.4) are significant scoring threats. Fulton joins Bath and P-W from the Central Michigan Athletic Conference and has won seven straight. Senior Joe Iung leads at 16.6 ppg.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (18-6) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (13-12) at Portage Northern
Tri-unity is the reigning Division 4 runner-up, having fallen to Detroit Douglass by six in last year’s Final. The Defenders have won 14 of their last 16 led by Brady Titus (29.8 ppg). Lenawee Christian played a tough schedule as well, and after finishing the regular season on a 2-7 stretch has pulled together three straight six-point wins including over Hillsdale Academy (18-5) and Bellevue (20-4). Senior Tyler VanEtten scores 20.5 points per game and has made 64 3-pointers.
Southfield Christian (20-4) vs. Genesee Christian (20-4) at West Bloomfield
The Eagles are returning to the Quarterfinals for the fifth season in a row (not counting COVID-abbreviated 2020). Sophomore Uchenna Amene leads this year’s contender at 22.3 points per game with 52 3-pointers. Genesee Christian is back at the Quarterfinals after most recently falling to Southfield Christian in this round in 2019. The Soldiers have won 10 straight over the last six weeks with all of their losses this season to Division 2 or 3 schools, including two to Beecher.
Second Half’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 www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) Ewen-Trout Creek's Kelsey Jilek (24) blocks a shot by Powers North Central's Jesse Sampson (22) during last week’s Regional Final. (Middle) Edison's Jada Shepard (24) and Kyle Millender (2) wall off the basket this season against Davison. (Photos by Cara Kamps and Terry Lyons, respectively.)
South Christian Sails Into Latest Challenge, Earns Saturday Return
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
March 24, 2023
EAST LANSING – The Grand Rapids South Christian boys basketball team faced adversity when it lost standout sophomore Carson Vis to season-ending injuries in last week’s Regional Final.
The Sailors faced a different kind of adversity Friday in a Division 2 Semifinal, as they were tested for the first time since late January.
South Christian responded, and showed a steely resolve that put the team one step closer to a championship following a 40-35 overtime win over Romulus Summit Academy North at Breslin Center.
The Sailors will play Ferndale in Saturday’s Division 2 Final.
“We talk about adversity all the time, and we’re missing our 20 points a game star player, and so we’ve had some throughout the season,” South Christian coach Taylor Johnson said. “It builds character.”
South Christian had won 15 games in a row entering Friday, all by double digits. Summit gave the Sailors their closest game since losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Jan. 24.
“We’ve been on a run here, and even as a coach, I feel like I haven’t done enough because we haven’t been in these situations,” Johnson said. “What a battle, and that’s what it’s all about. Two great teams with a lot of great players, and we found a way.”
Senior Jake DeHaan, who led the Sailors with 14 points, said he embraces playing in these types of games.
“This is what our team talks about, adversity, and we want to play in the biggest moments,” DeHaan said. “As a competitor, that's what you want to do. You want to play on the biggest stage against the best teams, and that's what we like to do.”
In a defensive struggle with points hard to come by, the Sailors maintained the lead throughout.
The Sailors took a 19-13 advantage into the half, but the Dragons rallied and cut the deficit to 23-21 with a minute left in the third quarter.
Summit’s Dominic Krzesowiak drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to knot the score at 31-31 with 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
In overtime, Nate Brinks buried a 3-pointer for South Christian after Summit took its only lead of the game.
Junior Jake Vermaas, who finished with 12 points, then made 6 of 6 from the free throw line to keep Summit at bay.
“I just kept dribbling with my head up and knocking down free throws when we needed them,” Vermaas said. “Staying focused and locked in, and I think that’s a credit to being on a big stage like this in football and being comfortable.”
The Sailors, who won the Division 4 football championship in November, will search for their first basketball Finals title since 2005.
Summit Academy (25-3), which shot 35 percent (16-46) from the field, was playing in its first Semifinal.
“We expected it to be a defensive game and every possession to be tough,” Summit coach Mark White said. “We expected to be challenged to execute and to challenge them to execute.
“We knew it would come down to who executed the best and took advantage of their opportunities. We came to battle, and I’m very proud of our team and our program that we made it this far.”
James White led Summit with 13 points and seven rebounds. Krzesowiak finished with six points and six rebounds.
PHOTOS (Top) South Christian’s Jake Vermaas (0) makes a move toward the basket during his team’s Division 2 Semifinal win. (Middle) Summit’s Dontez Scott Jr. works to get past the Sailors’ Nate Brinks.