Michigan’s boys basketball teams, for the most part, will reach the midpoint of their seasons this week, and 35 teams carry perfect records as we inch toward thinking about the start of March.
MPR – or Michigan Power Ratings – is the tool used to seed the top two teams in every District bracket, and you’ll see a number of references to MPR below as we start considering how teams might be falling into those desired spots. Click for the full boys basketball MPR.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 61, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 42 As expected, the Detroit Catholic League Central sorted itself out a bit over the week, with the reigning co-champ Cubs (5-2) making their move by handing Brother Rice (7-1) its lone loss.
2. Clarkston 55, Detroit Cass Tech 52 The Wolves (6-2) owned a pair of impressive losses, but with this added a signature early-season win in handing Cass Tech (8-1) its lone defeat.
3. Vandercook Lake 61, Napoleon 54 The Jayhawks (8-0) continued their climb in the Cascades Conference and statewide by dealing Napoleon (7-1) its only loss.
4. Battle Creek Harper Creek 59, Battle Creek Pennfield 41 – Pennfield’s win over then-undefeated Marshall three days earlier would’ve been on this list instead if not for Harper Creek downing the Panthers to create a four-way tie for first in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
5. Detroit Catholic Central 60, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 50 – The Pilots opened the week undefeated and finished it 7-2, DCC improved to 7-1 and moved to the top of the Catholic League Central standings.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (7-1) After closing last season with five wins over their last six games and a District title, the Big Reds have picked right back up with their best start since 2017-18. After suffering that lone loss, to Warren De La Salle Collegiate, on Dec. 21, Chippewa Valley was off two weeks and came back with three wins to start the Macomb Area Conference Red schedule including 45-44 last week over Macomb Dakota.
River Rouge (11-0) The Panthers were the state’s first boys basketball team to double-digit victories, and have put big ones while showing they also can win the close wins (62-61 over Belleville and 61-59 over Warren Fitzgerald, notably). Rouge is led this season by coach Josh Baker, formerly of Southfield Christian who spent the last two seasons as a special assistant at Alabama under former Romulus coach Nate Oats.
Freeland (7-0) The Falcons opened last week tied for first in the Tri-Valley Conference 8 with Alma and Frankenmuth and ended at the top alone after defeating both – 69-57 over the Panthers and 62-40 over the Eagles. No opponent has come closer than Alma’s 12-point margin. Division 1 Alpena (6-2) on Tuesday will present another notable opportunity to shine.
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (7-2) After breaking a two-season sub-.500 streak in going 10-7 and winning a District title last year, the Fighting Irish opened 1-2 this winter – but they haven’t lost since over a month-long stretch. What’s more, Friday’s 46-45 win over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep avenged a loss from last season, as did the team’s 22-point victory over Rochester on Jan. 7.
Painesdale Jeffers (7-0) The Jets have climbed from eight to 14 to 18 wins over the last three seasons, respectively, with two straight league titles, and this winter seems to be a continuation of last year’s 18-2 run. Ironwood with last week’s 28-point loss came the closest of any opponent this season. Jeffers ran into eventual Division 3 runner-up Iron Mountain last season in a Regional Semifinal and is one to watch again emerging from the Copper Mountain Conference.
Reese (7-1) Four of seven teams in the Greater Thumb Conference West have only one loss overall this season, and Reese sits atop the league after dealing first defeats last week to Bad Axe (6-1) and then Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (4-1). A major challenge comes up Monday with undefeated Division 2 Croswell-Lexington, but regardless of that result Reese looks like an early challenger in Division 3.
Buckley (5-0) After back-to-back Division 4 runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018, the Bears rumbled through three straight sub-.500 seasons – but are making distant memories of those this winter. They opened this season with a 61-59 win over reigning Northwest Conference champion Maple City Glen Lake and followed up with a 63-60 edging of Traverse City Christian (4-2). By the end of this week, Buckley could surpass last season’s seven victories.
Mason County Eastern (4-2) While it’s early still, of course, it’s also fair to say Mason County Eastern is rebounding well after going 3-14 a year ago. After falling to White Cloud to open, the Cardinals’ only other defeat was to still-unbeaten Mesick last week – and Mason County Eastern followed up by handing Baldwin its only loss, 56-51 on Thursday.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Ferndale (6-2) at North Farmington (9-1) – Not only are they tied for first in the Oakland Activities Association Red, but North Farmington is No. 25 in Division 1 MPR and Ferndale is No. 19 in Division 2.
Tuesday – Parchment (8-0) at Kalamazoo Christian (7-1) – The winner takes over sole possession of first place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley and also should get a nice MPR bump; Parchment is No. 2 in Division 2.
Tuesday – Carrollton (6-0) at Standish-Sterling (8-0) – The co-leaders in the TVC 10 also are Nos. 20 and 15, respectively, in statewide Division 2 MPR.
Tuesday – Rockford (8-1) at Grand Haven (8-0) – Only one other team in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red still has a winning league record after just three games, making these two possible runaway favorites and the winner of this one the team to chase.
Friday – Powers North Central (8-0) at Menominee (7-1) – These two might be the Upper Peninsula’s best, and likely contenders statewide with Menominee No. 1 in Division 3 MPR and North Central No. 10 in Division 4.
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.
PHOTO Detroit Cass Tech and Clarkston played a power-packed Division 1 nonleague matchup last week, with the Wolves prevailing 55-52. (Photo by Quintin Love Jr.)
A review of Harbor Light Christian’s boys basketball rosters over the last couple of decades would show a lot of familiar names.
That would be especially true of the coaching slots.
Or are the players now coaches?
The coaches’ names are extremely familiar, and nothing much has changed – except some of the former players are now coaches, and the head coaches have returned to assist the program.
Today, the head coach is Jason Roussin. He’s in his 12th season at the helm of the Swordsmen. Jeff Jakeway, who was the head coach during Roussin’s junior and senior seasons at Harbor Light, is back on the Swordsmen’s staff as an assistant coach. Roussin is also assisted by long-time coach William Henagan and previous head coach Clark Hewitt.
Hewitt also serves as the Harbor Light junior varsity coach. The JV squad went 19-1 this season and 18-2 the year before.
“In 38 years, really there’s been three consistent coaches and then Pat Collins who had done one year when the program started, and now we’re all back on the sidelines working together,” Roussin said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
The facilities Collins, Hewitt and Jakeway coached in are nothing like the Swordsmen have today – the newly-built Solid Rock Center in Harbor Springs. In fact, they used to play on a cement floor. A year ago, the Swordsmen played their first game in their new home.
A walk around the facility, five years in the making, provides the feeling of more like a small college program’s setup. Along with the new gym, the Solid Rock Center was equipped with a cafe and concession area, locker rooms, a film lounge and hangout area for the players, an upper-level full track around the gym, and three classrooms for art, music, science and more.
Jakeway served as project manager on the building — fully funded and debt-free through community support. He was the head coach of the Harbor Light girls basketball team when the facility opened.
Harbor Light’s boys suffered a 76-74 loss to hot-shooting Pellston in the facility’s first game Jan. 20, 2023, but haven’t been doing much losing since. The Swordsmen started this season 2-2, and after a heart-breaking loss to Traverse City Christian on Dec. 8 went on to share the Northern Lights Conference title with Alanson and have built that record to 20-4 heading into tonight’s District Final against St. Ignace.
The title game will be played at the Solid Rock Center. Another Jakeway, Jeff Jakeway’s son and freshman point guard Landon, will be getting his second chance to lead the Swordsmen to a District championship. He was the point guard as a seventh grader when Harbor Light won the District title two years ago. (Small schools like Harbor Light may request, for most sports, an MHSAA Executive Committee waiver to play eighth-grade students if the school’s enrollment is less than 125 and seventh-graders if the enrollment is less than 75. Harbor Light’s enrollment count for this school year is 61.)
Landon Jakeway is the team’s leading scorer, contributing 15 points per game. He scored 25 to lead the Swordsmen to a 67-31 win over Mackinaw City in Wednesday’s District Semifinal. That was Harbor Light’s third win this season over its league rival, allowing the Swordsmen to keep the Mack Light Ball, which goes to the winning team’s school after each victory in the rivalry. Wins over Mackinaw have been hard to come by in previous seasons.
David Chamberlin, at 13 points per game, and Corin Palus, scoring nine per contest, are the other leading scorers. Jakeway adds seven assists and four steals per game. Chamberlin kicks in seven rebounds per game, and Jackson Mesner and Kirk Rose contribute eight and five rebounds, respectively.
Chamberlin, Paulis, Mesner and Rose are all seniors.
“The team goal was really to ‘put the team before me’ mentality,” Roussin said. “We were going to work as a team, be loyal, be committed to one another and battle together.”
The Swordsmen also entered the season with their eyes on the Mack Light Ball, a conference championship and a long postseason run.
“We wanted to chase the conference and to battle for a District,” Roussin noted. “Obviously, we knew St. Ignace is in there and they are the favorite team.”
Senior leadership has been one of the keys to Harbor Light’s finishing atop the conference for the first time in more than a decade.
“We want to show up and play the best basketball you can to make your team the best they can,” Roussin said. “That’s what has been awesome with the leadership we’ve had on this team.
“Through all the guys is ‘it is not about me,’” Roussin continued. “It is about ‘what can I do to make the team better?’”
St. Ignace brings a 16-6 record into the Solid Rock Center. The Saints will have a chance to view some NBA history in addition to playing the final.
Above the main gym resides a mini court containing the Detroit Pistons floor from the Pontiac Silverdome. Before moving to The Palace of Auburn Hills, and most recently Little Caesars Arena, the Pistons played at the Silverdome from 1978-88.
Jeff Jakeway was able to get the court to Northern Michigan through connections in Novi.
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Harbor Light’s Vaughn Henagan (23) gets to the basket during a 59-39 win over Kinross Maplewood Baptist on Dec. 21. (Middle) David Chamberlin (22) elevates over a Pellston defender as the Swordsmen work toward a 75-20 victory Jan. 19. (Photos by Billy Mac Photos.)