Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Report Week 7
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 24, 2022
Nearly all of the MHSAA’s 750 member high schools have a varsity boys basketball team, and “Breslin Bound” highlights the notable performances throughout the state.
But it’s been impossible this season to not turn a lot of attention toward Detroit.
The Detroit Catholic League Central features five teams with overall records of 6-3 or better despite two weeks of matchups against each other. The Detroit Public School League Blue features at least three championship contenders as well. River Rouge is sure to be in the Division 1 mix too, but just lost for the first time to an intriguing Division 3 riser in Ecorse. And as always, the suburbs are loaded with teams with March possibilities.
“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 Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Ecorse 60, River Rouge 58 The Raiders (5-1) are a combined 33-11 over the last three seasons but hadn’t defeated Rouge (12-1) since 2014 and lost last year’s matchup by 11.
2. Detroit Martin Luther King 56, Detroit Cass Tech 51 These two and Renaissance are starting to separate at the top of the Detroit Public School League Blue, with King (9-1) earning a valuable advantage over the Technicians (9-2) as both face Renaissance this week.
3. Menominee 51, Powers North Central 26 The Maroons (9-1) handed the Jets (9-1) their only loss and appear capable of finishing the regular season as the top team in Division 3 MPR.
4. Detroit U-D Jesuit 65, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 61 Another must-see week of games in the Detroit Catholic League Central concluded with Jesuit (6-3) and Detroit Catholic Central (8-2) tied for first, with the Eaglets (8-2) next.
5. Ferndale 56, North Farmington 49 The Eagles (8-2) won this road matchup for first place in the Oakland Activities Association Red, with North Farmington (10-2) set to make a return trip Feb. 17.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Renaissance (9-1) While last season’s 6-8 record wasn’t a good indicator of the team’s ability – Renaissance lost four games by six points or fewer and fell to Detroit U-D Jesuit (11-1) by just a basket in District play – the Phoenix are closing in on guaranteeing their first winning season since 2018-19. They are in the PSL Blue mix (see above) and have scored at least 79 points in their last four games, with a high of 106. They have wins over Romulus Summit Academy North (9-2) and Bloomfield Hills (8-2), with the lone loss by five to Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (7-2).
Rockford (10-1) The Rams are seeking to repeat in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red and sit alone in first place after last week’s 62-56 win over Grand Haven (9-1). That one meant even more because Rockford fell twice to the Buccaneers last season on the way to going 15-3 overall. The lone defeat this winter came Dec. 18 against Detroit Catholic Central (8-2).
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (10-1) The Cougars’ perfect run to the Division 2 championship last season featured a lineup that graduated only one senior, making this season’s success predictable but no less impressive. Among the most notable wins were their first three – 48-45 over Grand Rapids Christian, then 80-66 over Detroit U-D Jesuit and 64-59 over reigning Division 1 champion Grand Blanc – and GRCC also has a victory over Ada Forest Hills Eastern, which is second to the Cougars in the O-K Gold. The team’s lone loss came 75-69 to reigning Division 3 champion Flint Beecher.
Kingsford (7-1) The Flivvers’ last Great Northern Conference championship came in 2011-12, and they’ve rarely had an impact on the race since – but that could change over the next six weeks. While Kingsford’s lone loss came to reigning champ Escanaba, 53-50 on Dec. 10, they haven’t allowed another opponent to come closer than 13 points. League leader Menominee is up next, and the Escanaba rematch is Feb. 4.
Flint Beecher (8-1) The Bucs are under new but familiar leadership, with early 2000s star Marquis Gray taking over the program this winter. Through nearly the first half of the season, the reigning Division 3 champion looks headed toward another long run. In addition to the GRCC win (see above), Beecher is again leading the Genesee Area Conference Red and has lost only to Division 1 Martin Luther King – no one but King and GRCC have gotten closer than single digits. The Bucs finish the regular season with Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Grand Blanc.
Traverse City St. Francis (7-1) The Gladiators have lost only to Division 1 Grand Haven and have a win over Division 1 Traverse City Central (50-48 in double overtime). St. Francis tied for second in the Lake Michigan Conference last season but opened this one with a 59-40 win over reigning champion Charlevoix. After losing twice to Elk Rapids last year, St. Francis handed the second-place Elks a 50-47 defeat last Tuesday to take over the league lead alone – and also-second place Boyne City hosts St. Francis this Friday.
Deckerville (8-1) The Eagles are closing in on guaranteeing their first winning season since 2016-17, and after going 4-9 a year ago. They own two two-point and one three-point win and join Dryden –Tuesday’s opponent – as undefeated in North Central Thumb League Stars play. The lone loss came to Division 2 Imlay City, a contender in the Blue Water Area Conference.
Rudyard (8-0) Division 4 semifinalists last season, the Bulldogs are among a small group of Upper Peninsula teams that play in multiple leagues – and they lead both the Straits Area Conference and Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference and have wins over the second-place teams from each. Rudyard’s best victory came Saturday, nonleague, as it handed Munising its first defeat 57-34.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (6-3) at Detroit Catholic Central (8-2) – The co-leaders in the Catholic League Central meet up for the first time this season.
Tuesday – Richmond (8-1) at Croswell-Lexington (10-0) – The Pioneers have won the last two Blue Water Area Conference titles, and Richmond won two straight before that.
Tuesday – Olivet (10-0) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (8-1) – Both are undefeated in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference, and they split last season’s series.
Friday – Detroit Renaissance (9-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (9-1) – Depending on Renaissance’s success Tuesday at Cass Tech, this eventually could determine the PSL Blue championship.
Friday – Carrollton (8-0) at Hemlock (7-1) – The Cavaliers are undefeated atop the Tri-Valley Conference 10, but Hemlock’s only loss was to Carrollton 44-43 in the season opener.
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PHOTO Davison and Detroit Edison face off earlier this season. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
March 25, 2023
EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.
Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.
And now it is no longer.
The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.
Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.
“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”
Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.
“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.
“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”
Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead.
Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.
The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.
“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”
An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.
“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”
South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.
“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.
“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”
Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.