Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Report Week 11
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 21, 2022
The first 12 weeks of this boys basketball season will culminate in a highly-anticipated announcement this week.
Sunday morning, District brackets will be released with the top two teams seeded in each based on thousands of results going back to the start of December – including a few more that likely will have an impact this week.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Muskegon 84, Grand Blanc 79 The Big Reds (16-1) picked up a massive weekend win, downing the reigning Division 1 champion Bobcats (12-5) on Saturday.
2. Detroit Western 57, Detroit Cass Tech 53 The Cowboys (15-3) were coming off the Detroit Public School League Gold championship and earned a spot in the PSL Tournament championship game by downing the East runner-up Technicians (15-3).
3. Grand Haven 54, Rockford 51 The Buccaneers (16-1) avenged their 62-56 loss to the Rams 16-2 from Jan. 18 to move into a tie for first in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red.
4. East Lansing 68, Okemos 63 The Trojans (15-4) finished Capital Area Activities Conference Blue play as the outright league champion, sending Okemos (12-3) into second.
5. Romulus Summit Academy 67, Warren Michigan Collegiate 45 The Dragons (14-2) finished an impressive run through the Charter School Conference Tournament with wins over Detroit Edison (12-6) and then Michigan Collegiate (13-2) in the final.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Catholic Central (9-7) This speaks to the level competition DCC has faced this season – the Shamrocks finished fifth in the Detroit Catholic League Central but are No. 4 in statewide Division 1 MPR. Every team they’ve played has a winning record, and 15 games came against teams with at least 10 wins. DCC avenged a Feb. 8 loss to Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (11-6) with a 66-64 win to open Catholic League Bishop Tournament play Saturday and earned solid early-season wins over Rockford and Hamtramck (13-3).
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (13-4) Perhaps no team in any division faced higher expectations heading into this season, and the Eaglets will pursue the Bishop Tournament championship this week potentially on the verge of a run heading into postseason play. They finished third in the Central, but three of their four losses were by a combined seven points. Similar to DCC, 12 games have come against opponents with at least 10 wins, and some of the best victories outside the league were against Grand Rapids Christian (13-4), Grand Blanc (12-5), Ferndale (13-3) and Canton (13-4).
Benton Harbor (14-2) The Tigers have appeared to be fueling up for another long tournament run, as they sit No. 7 in Division 2 MPR with losses only to Muskegon and Edison. Benton Harbor has six wins over teams with double-digit victories, including over Battle Creek Pennfield (11-5) in overtime and Kalamazoo Central (10-7) in double overtime over the last two weeks. An early victory over Flint Carman-Ainsworth (11-4) also continues to impress as the Tigers prepare to build on last year’s run to the Quarterfinals.
Standish-Sterling (16-1) The rest of the Tri-Valley Conference 10 has been chasing Carrollton all season, and last week Standish-Sterling caught up with a 70-64 win over the Cavaliers to give both a single league defeat with two weeks to play. The Panthers’ only loss was 77-69 to Carrollton (16-2) on Jan. 18. A pair of wins over Ithaca (14-4) and another over Reese (14-2) have helped boost Standish to No. 12 in Division 2 MPR.
Riverview Gabriel Richard (17-0) The Pioneers have been a Catholic League force for a few seasons with this winter’s Intersectional #1 title its third straight division championship. But much more could be in store as Richard looks to win this week’s Cardinal Tournament on the way to the postseason. Victories over Dearborn Divine Child (10-7) and Erie Mason (10-5) are among others that are notable, and they were two of only three opponents to give the Pioneers a single-digit game this season.
Schoolcraft (15-2) It’s a good season to be an Eagle, as combined with the girls team the school’s varsities are a combined 33-3. The boys team handed Parchment (17-1) its only loss Friday to create a shared championship in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley. Parchment on Dec. 10 handed Schoolcraft its first defeat; the other came to Division 1 Hudsonville. Wins against Pewamo-Westphalia (12-3) and twice each over Fennville (12-5) and Kalamazoo Christian (12-6) also have helped Schoolcraft reach No. 7 in Division 3 MPR.
Buckley (14-4) The Bears can’t catch co-leaders Benzie Central and Maple City Glen Lake in the Northwest Conference but give the league another strong representative heading into the playoffs. Those two combined to give Buckley three of its losses, and the Bears won their first meeting with Glen Lake (15-3). The other defeat came Saturday in double overtime to undefeated Mesick (17-0), and a pair of wins over Traverse City Christiaan (12-4) also have helped Buckley move up to No. 8 in Division 4 MPR.
Eau Claire (13-4) The Fighting Beavers would need some help to catch Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference White leader New Buffalo, but regardless this has been a memorable turnaround after going 5-8 a year ago. The team’s last eight wins have come by nine points or more, and the losses were solid, against New Buffalo (16-1), Three Oaks River Valley (12-5) and Buchanan (10-6). Eau Claire sees New Buffalo and River Valley again over the next two weeks and shares a District with both as well.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Monday – Detroit Western (15-3) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (17-1) at Oakland University – As noted above, this will determine the champion of the PSL Tournament.
Tuesday – Munising (14-1) at Powers North Central (14-2) – These Division 4 statewide contenders will face off twice over the next two weeks.
Tuesday – Romulus (10-2) at Romulus Summit Academy (14-2) – Romulus High leads the Western Wayne Athletic Conference, and Summit just finished clinching the Charter School Conference West and tournament titles.
Friday – Maple City Glen Lake (15-3) at Benzie Central (15-1) – These two both will enter with one loss in the Northwest Conference and the winner taking the league title outright.
Saturday – Detroit Catholic League Bishop final at Eastern Michigan University – The winners of Wednesday’s semifinals (U-D Jesuit/Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Detroit Catholic Central/De La Salle) face off for the championship.
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PHOTO Muskegon and Benton Harbor, here during a Jan. 8 Big Reds win, are among teams expected to contend in their respective divisions when MHSAA playoffs begin in two weeks. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers
By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
No 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.
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.
“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 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.)