Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Report Week 12

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 28, 2022

We're hours from the beginning of March and less than a week from the start of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament.

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Although District seeds have been determined and brackets posted, there are still plenty of teams with plenty on the line as we finish up the regular season. We highlight some of those below, plus take a look at a few more contenders before switching into "Breslin Bound" playoff mode next week. 

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results: 

1. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 65, Detroit U-D Jesuit 43 The Eaglets’ win over Detroit Catholic League Central champ Jesuit (12-5) in the Bishop Tournament semifinal set St. Mary’s (15-4) up to go on and down Detroit Catholic Central in the final. 

2. Onaway 84, Mancelona 50 Onaway (18-1) clinched its first league title in this sport since 1963, defeating runner-up Mancelona (13-6) in the Ski Valley Conference. 

3. Detroit Martin Luther King 66, Detroit Western 38 The Crusaders added the Detroit Public School League Tournament title to their PSL Blue championship with this win over PSL Gold winner Western (15-4).

4. Flint Beecher 63, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 60 The Bucs (17-1) appear ready for another Division 3 title run, that assumption backed up again by this close win over the Division 1 Cavaliers (13-5).  

5. Macomb Dakota 65, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 45 These two shared the Macomb Area Conference Red title, but Dakota (14-5) claimed the MAC Red/White Tournament championship with its second win over the Big Reds (13-6) in three meetings this season.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks: 

Division 1

Canton (15-4) The Chiefs opened this season with four consecutive losses (all to teams that have won at least 11 games). Canton has not lost since and will take on Hartland on Tuesday in hopes of adding the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Tournament title to the KLAA West championship clinched two weeks ago against the Eagles (15-4). The division title was the team’s first since 2018-19, and Canton then defeated Dearborn (15-4) in a KLAA Tournament semifinal.

Detroit Cass Tech (15-3) Although Cass Tech missed out on playing in the PSL Tournament final, having lost to Western in a semifinal, there is still plenty of reason to believe the Technicians could emerge as champs of one of the state’s strongest Districts next week. Cass lost to Western 57-51, and its other defeats to King and Clarkston (11-7) were both by five or fewer points. Meanwhile, the Technicians have downed Carman-Ainsworth, Detroit Southeastern (12-5), Detroit Edison (12-6), and Detroit Renaissance (11-7) twice, among others.

Division 2

Carrollton (17-2) The Cavaliers have guaranteed themselves a share of the Tri-Valley Conference 10 title, and their two losses this season were by a combined seven points including by six to league rival Standish-Sterling (18-1). Carrollton also has a win over Standish and two apiece over Ithaca (15-5) and Hemlock (13-6). The Cavaliers were a one-point loss from making the Division 2 Quarterfinals last season and could be on the verge of a similar run.

Romulus Summit Academy (16-2) The Dragons have won 14 straight, including a perfect run through the Charter School Conference West and league tournament. Total, nine of their wins are over teams with at least 10 victories, with last week’s by 19 points over Romulus (11-4) sticking out recently along with victories over Warren Michigan Collegiate (13-2) by 22 and Edison by five during the league playoffs. Summit reached the Division 2 Quarterfinals a year ago after similar regular-season success.

Division 3

Benzie Central (17-1) The Huskies downed Maple City Glen Lake 58-45 on Friday to win the Northwest Conference title, its first since 2011-12. It’s been a solid jump from finishing fourth and 10-9 overall last season, with the only loss this winter 64-56 in the first meeting against Glen Lake (15-5) on Jan. 25. All but two of Benzie’s wins have been by double digits and have included a pair over Buckley (14-4) and another over Lake Leelanau St. Mary (14-4).

Pewamo-Westphalia (14-4) Second-year coach Dominic Schneider has picked up where longtime coach Luke Pohl left off, leading the Pirates to a combined 26-7 record over the last two seasons. P-W clinched a share of the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title Friday and can claim it outright with a win in either of two games this week against teams at the bottom of the standings. The Pirates started the season 2-3, then won 12 straight before falling to undefeated Freeland (19-0) by six Saturday.

Division 4

Southfield Christian (15-3) The Eagles are annual Finals contenders and reached the Quarterfinals last season before falling to eventual champion Detroit Douglass. Two of their three losses this winter were to Division 2 teams, Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (13-4) and Detroit Country Day (11-7), with the third to Plymouth Christian Academy (11-7) resulting in their shared Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue title. Tuesday’s matchup with Clarkston Everest Collegiate (13-5) will provide more prep for the postseason.

Ubly (14-3) The Bearcats clinched their second-straight Greater Thumb Conference East championship outright last week and also posted an impressive win over Deckerville (14-5). Ubly’s losses were to GTC East third-place Memphis (13-6) twice, by a combined five points, and GTC West runner-up Bad Axe (17-2). The Bearcats could see Deckerville again next week as they pursue a repeat District title as well.

Can't-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:  

Tuesday – Hartland (15-4) at Canton (15-4) – As noted above, these two will meet for the KLAA Tournament championship after finishing second and first, respectively, in the West.

Tuesday – Menominee (17-2) at Ewen-Trout Creek (15-3) – Two of the Upper Peninsula’s best offer each other a final regular-season test heading into the playoffs.

Tuesday – Waterford Mott (14-3) at White Lake Lakeland (16-3) – Mott also must play South Lyon on Thursday, but has a half-game lead on Lakeland at the top of the Lakes Valley Conference standings after winning the first meeting 44-35 on Jan. 25.

Thursday – Flint Beecher (17-1) at Grand Blanc (13-5) – The Bobcats are not taking it easy during the last week of the regular season, taking on the Bucs after opening the week against River Rouge.

Thursday – Blanchard Montabella (17-1) at Carson City Crystal (16-3) – Montabella has a one-game lead in the Mid-State Activities Conference heading into this season finale, but the Eagles won the first meeting 45-42 on Jan. 26.

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 and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO Flint Metro League Stripes champion Flushing downed Corunna 63-45 in nonleague play last week. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 28, 2024

Ewen-Trout Creek graduate Jake Witt is playing for a spot on the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster. The memories of high school sports, and the impact they’ve had on his journey to the NFL, have stuck with him through his college days and even now as a professional.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 300-plus receiving yards he went for in a game against the eventual 8-player state champion back in 2017. 

The regular-season basketball game where 3,276 fans turned out to watch his Panthers play just a few months later.

The teamwork prep sports taught him. The family atmosphere he got to be a part of on the high school football team.

“Football was definitely the sport I felt the most family-type feeling with it,” Witt said earlier this week after fishing on Erickson Lake while back in the Upper Peninsula before training camp begins next month. “That’s what drew me back to wanting to play football in college, was my opportunity in high school to play and getting that feeling with the guys and that family-oriented feel.”

Witt played two years of high school football. He lined up exclusively at wide receiver for Ewen-Trout Creek as a junior and then was more of a blocking tight end when E-TC and Ontonagon joined forces as a co-op program when he was a senior.

He ultimately decided to play basketball first in college, at Michigan Tech. But two of his three finalists were football opportunities.

“Obviously playing basketball from second grade on, people would probably assume that I would want to play basketball in college,” Witt said. “I think that just goes to show that football in those two years had a big impact and obviously it led me to where I am when I played at Northern and where I am today.”

Witt played only one year of basketball at Tech. He transferred to Northern Michigan University to attend as a student only before being talked into playing football. 

He was initially a tight end there before moving to tackle because of injuries during a game against Ferris State. He dominated, not allowing a sack or even a quarterback pressure against what was considered the best Division II defensive line in the country. 

He stayed at tackle for what was left of that season and then all of his final year at Northern. Despite his limited time at the position, he had the attention of NFL scouts and entered the draft. The attention reached a fever pitch during his pro day at Central Michigan when he wowed with his athleticism. His 9.92 Relative Athletic Score, a way to measure players’ athletic testing while accounting for their size, was one of the best for an offensive tackle prospect since it began being used in 1987.

Witt, right, umpires a baseball game last summer.He was drafted with the 236th pick, in the seventh round, by the Colts in 2023. 

His first training camp was cut short due to a hip injury, and he was then placed on season-ending injured reserve. But he’s back healthy and ready to go. He practiced at second-string left tackle during the offseason camp this spring and now hopes to earn a spot on the 53-man roster with training camp set to begin in a month.

“I want to go into training camp, play well and then play well enough to where they can’t release me off the 53,” Witt said. “The next goal is to play in a game. And I think that will start with special teams, that will start with field goal. And then from there, obviously, everybody is one week of great practice away from playing with the offense, one injury away from playing in a game with the offense.”

Those who watched him during his high school days in the U.P. likely wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that happen.

Witt is still the only receiver to go for 300 or more receiving yards in 8-player football in state history, according to the MHSAA record book. And he did it twice, a 325-yard game against Eben Junction Superior Central as a junior and the 305-yard performance against Crystal Falls Forest Park as a senior.

The Ontonagon co-op team had mostly stuck to running the ball that season, but looked for Witt through the air against the eventual state champion Trojans.

“I think it was 345 (yards), I think they sent in the wrong number,” Witt said. “That was one game where we switched things up with our offensive attack and threw the ball a lot more, and it ended up paying off for us very well. We were down big at halftime, and we pushed back and we were in a battle with them in the second half. It was a great game. We didn’t end up winning, but it was a lot of fun.”

He enjoyed both years of high school football – even while mostly blocking on the line as a senior despite having shown previously to be a more-than-capable receiver.

Witt warms up during the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie camp in May 2023.“A lot of the offense wasn’t focused on me anymore, which was great,” Witt said. “It made me a much more well-rounded football player. It made me a much better athlete, it gave me a better perception on things as a football player versus just being a receiver. I think both years were great for different reasons.”

Witt said every sport he played in high school was beneficial to him going forward. Basketball, for example, taught him teamwork and coordination. 

“And just relationship building is huge; for me, it helped me move on to the professional football level,” he said.

No high school game was quite as memorable for him as that regular-season basketball game at Michigan Tech on a chilly Wednesday night in Houghton.

Ewen-Trout Creek and Dollar Bay were tied atop the U.P. small-school poll. With that type of matchup, and the chance for fans in the Copper Country to see the 6-7 Witt and his above-the-rim play that’s pretty unique in the U.P., the game was moved from Dollar Bay’s tiny gym to Michigan Tech. (He wasn’t quite 300 pounds like he is now, but he was close – and he came into that game averaging 27 points and 16 rebounds per game with no one able to match his size and strength.)

They expected a crowd; they got 3,276. The latest arriving fans had to sit on the floor on the baseline.

“You don’t see that very much in Division 4 basketball even in the playoffs,” Witt said. “Just having that atmosphere, and especially having it between two of the best U.P. teams at the time, and having the storyline that was behind the game was great – and one of the most memorable events to this day still for me.”

Witt is looking forward to the challenge of training camp and achieving his goals in Indianapolis. But he’s not rushing away a U.P. summer. 

He helped out at last week’s U.P. Football All-Star game. He was happy to provide insight for any players headed off to play college ball, and they helped the Marquette County Habitat for Humanity with the finishing touches on one of their houses.

Over the next month, he’ll still be training, going over the playbook and doing position skill work. As happy as he was to help out last week, he’s happy to be on the lake again, too, fishing like a normal Yooper.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do, that and train,” Witt said. “Just trying to destress before I get back into it.”

PHOTOS (Top) At left, Jake Witt played for Ewen-Trout Creek during a 2018 basketball game at Michigan Tech, and at right Witt takes a photo with area youth baseball players last summer. (Middle) Witt, right, umpires a baseball game last summer. (Below) Witt warms up during the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie camp in May 2023. (Photos by Jason Juno.)