Breslin Bound: 2021-22 Boys Report Week 8

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 31, 2022

This week we welcome February, five weeks to go in the boys basketball regular season and 19 teams bringing undefeated records into both.

MI Student Aid

That’s always impressive, of course, given the state’s 700 varsity teams total and competitiveness throughout one of Michigan’s most-played high school sports. Two of those unbeaten teams play in Division 1, eight play in Division 2, three in Division 3 and six in Division 4 – and we highlight three during this week’s “Breslin Bound” report.

“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

Week in Review

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

1. Detroit Martin Luther King 74, Detroit Renaissance 70 The Crusaders (11-1) enter the final week of the Detroit Public School League Blue schedule in position to clinch thanks in part to this win over the formerly co-leading Phoenix (9-3).

2. Grand Blanc 64, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 63 The Bobcats (6-4) are the last team undefeated in Saginaw Valley League play thanks to this win over the second-place Cavaliers (6-4).

3. Maple City Glen Lake 64, Benzie Central 58 The Lakers (9-3) handed Benzie its first defeat, in the process moving into a tie for first in the Northwest Conference with the Huskies (10-1) and with their rematch scheduled for Feb. 25.

4. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 47, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 34 The Detroit Catholic League Central continues to reshuffle weekly, now with St. Mary’s (9-2) and Detroit U-D Jesuit tied for first but every team within a game of the lead and the Pilots (9-3) tied for most overall wins among league teams.

5. Detroit University Prep 57, Carrollton 56 The Panthers (4-6) have to be one of the best sub-.500 teams in Michigan, mostly recently handing Carrollton (10-1) its first loss, and after defeats by six or fewer points to Benton Harbor, Detroit Renaissance and Carman-Ainsworth.

Watch List

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

Division 1

Bloomfield Hills (10-2) The Black Hawks are undefeated aside from a pair of losses at December’s Motor City Roundball Classic, to Detroit Renaissance and Detroit Catholic Central (8-3), which actually help fill out a strong body of work overall. Six of Bloomfield Hills’ wins are against teams .500 or better, and the Black Hawks also have an early upper hand as they seek to repeat as Oakland Activities Association White champions.

Muskegon (10-0) There are plenty of highlights to rattle off from the Big Reds’ start. After finishing second in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green last year, Muskegon is two games ahead of the rest atop the league standings. The Big Reds avenged two losses from last season to reigning league champ Zeeland East with Friday’s 58-42 win, and Muskegon also has handed Benton Harbor (11-1) its only defeat, 84-58 on Jan. 8. Only Reeths-Puffer, the second-place team in the Green, has gotten closer than 11 points.

Division 2

Battle Creek Pennfield (9-2) The Panthers’ first run to the MHSAA Finals was one of the feel-good stories of the abbreviated 2020-21 season, and they could be finding their footing again after a couple of mid-January league losses to Battle Creek Harper Creek (9-3) and Coldwater (9-1). Those came immediately after Pennfield handed Marshall (11-1) its only loss. The Panthers will have plenty of opportunities to show what they can do with six games coming up against teams with at least nine wins so far, including rematches with all three of those league foes plus a home game with Benton Harbor.

Hudsonville Unity Christian (12-0) The Crusaders appear on their way to a sixth-straight league title, with a two-game lead in the O-K Blue after the first run through the league schedule. Only one opponent – Grandville Calvin Christian (see below) in a 78-76 Unity win on Dec. 10 – has gotten closer than 10 points. The Crusaders defeated the second and third-place teams in the Blue by 10 and 31 points, respectively, last week.

Division 3

Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (10-2) The Chargers haven’t stopped moving coming off of last season’s Quarterfinal run. Generally playing larger schools, they did avenge a 2021 loss to Wyoming Tri-unity Christian so far with the only losses to Division 2 Unity and Forest Hills Eastern (9-3) in December. Covenant doesn’t play in a league, but did claim a Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament title with wins over Division 2 Allendale and Division 1 Muskegon Mona Shores.

Grandville Calvin Christian (8-3) The Squires continue to put distance between themselves and an 0-3 start that concluded with an overtime loss to Covenant (see above). Calvin defeated former co-leader Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 75-62 on Friday to move into first place alone in the O-K Silver. Also bringing context to that winless start – the first two defeats came to Division 2 Holland Christian (7-5) and Unity.

Division 4

Clarkston Everest Collegiate (8-2) The Mountaineers are coming off their second loss, to Genesee Christian (10-2), but defeats have been few lately as Everest is a combined 23-5 over the last two years. The Mountaineers lead the Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #2 as they look to extend their league title streak to three, and they have notable wins over Marine City Cardinal Mooney (9-3) and Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (9-4).

McBain Northern Michigan Christian (10-0) The Comets are only one game into the second half of the Highland Conference schedule but already three games ahead of the field as they pursue what would be a first league title in at least a decade. It’s been an impressive rise for NMC, which broke a seven-season streak of sub-.500 finishes by going 12-3 (and also winning a District title) a year ago.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – East Lansing (10-3) at Williamston (12-0) – The leaders of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue and Red, respectively, match up with the winner likely considered the Lansing area’s best.

Tuesday – Dearborn (10-1) at Belleville (7-3) – Belleville has a one-game lead on Dearborn in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East thanks to a 63-43 win on Jan. 4.

Friday – Kalamazoo Central (9-4) at Richland Gull Lake (8-4) – Gull Lake won the first meeting, 78-75 in overtime Dec. 16, and they’re tied atop the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East

Friday – Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (9-2) at Detroit Catholic Central (8-3) – St. Mary’s won the first meeting 75-64 and could begin breaking up the tightly-packed league standings with a big week that starts on the road at De La Salle.

Saturday – Ferndale (8-2) vs. Muskegon (10-0) at Cornerstone University – Contenders in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively, face off at the RedHawk Challenge.

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PHOTO A pair of Carman-Ainsworth defenders wall off the passing lanes during last week’s 64-63 loss to Grand Blanc. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times

By Tom Spencer
Special for

March 17, 2023

Shawn Bramer and Dylan Barnowski, as middle schoolers, attended the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals every year.

Northern Lower PeninsulaLast year, they nearly played in the Division 3 title game – falling in a Semifinal but almost making a dream come true for the then-juniors and their Lake Leelanau St. Mary coach, Matt Barnowski, also Dylan’s father.

That dream began for some when the boys were coached by Matt as third graders, and they made serious strides last season. Before last winter, the last time the Eagles had won a Regional championship was 1950 – and no St. Mary boys basketball team had reached the Semifinals. Bramer and Dylan Barnowski – along with current seniors Jack Glynn, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar – had high hopes of making more history this winter.

The dream ended Wednesday night with a Regional Final loss to Frankfort, which St. Mary had defeated 54-41 during the regular season. This time, the Eagles were faced with a large number of K-12 students succumbing to illness – with all five of its starters at least somewhat sick – as nearly a third of the school’s tiny enrollment was out of school the day after the loss to the Panthers.

But you won’t hear any of the players or coaches making excuses. They give all the credit to Frankfort, and they’re ready to move on. And many in the LSM family know reaching the Regional Finals this season and Breslin Center in 2022 had absolutely no probability had Bramer and Barnowski not made an iron-clad agreement last summer. 

Eagles coach Matt Barnowski coaches up his team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick.The two friends vowed to help each other despite their personal, opposing challenges.

Barnowski and Bramer, through LSM’s cooperative agreement with Suttons Bay, went 3-for-3 playing in 8-Player Division 1 Football Finals during their first three years of high school. But through last summer Barnowski, who quarterbacked the Norseman, had no interest in football.  

Bramer, meanwhile, had been nursing a quad tendon injury since his sophomore football season and battling two bad knees but was thinking he could suffer though football and sit out the basketball season to recover. The all-state running back experienced training difficulties and even had his strength training severely hampered.

Football was king for Bramer, and he also loved basketball too. Basketball is number one to Barnowski. The longtime friends decided cut a deal to help each other — and their teammates — out.

“I was kind of on the edge,” said Bramer, who plays with braces on both knees. “After talking to each other, we both ended up just playing. 

“I really shouldn’t be playing sports, but I couldn’t miss out playing with my friends,” he continued. “We just figured it was our last season so we might as well just do it.”

Dylan Barnowski and Brammer also teamed up during successful football careers. Barnowski had been considering ending his football days immediately after the Norse fell short in their third-straight trip to the Finals, at Superior Dome in Marquette in Fall 2021. That loss was at the hands of Adrian Lenawee Christian 31-20.

The Norseman graduated most of their offensive and defense lines last spring and expected to be small in numbers. Until this fall, they had lost only one regular-season game on their way to three straight title game appearances. This year they finished 3-5.

The big linemen losses — Barnowski’s protection — was forcing him to weigh his injury risk against having a senior basketball season.

“We did it for each other,” Barnowski said. “I talked with Shawn, and we knew we had a big community behind us and it would be hard for them if we just quit. 

“I knew we weren’t going to have the same powerhouse team we had,” he continued. “We weren’t very good this year, but we still had a blast.”

This week’s loss put an end to the possible Breslin championship finish, but it left the friends happy with the decision to play both sports. The Eagles finished 20-4.

Barnowski led St. Mary in scoring. He averaged better than 20 points a game with more than seven rebounds and five assists. Bramer averaged just under 15 points per game, and almost 10 rebounds.

The two big men each scored 11 in the season-ending loss. Thompson scored 14. This year’s senior-dominated team likely will be remembered for its basketball success for some time. Barnowski, Bramer and Glynn experienced only one loss in District play over their four seasons.

“It’s a really special groups of kids,” Coach Barnowski said. “These kids kind of transformed St. Mary’s basketball.  

St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Brammer, Jack Gwynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. “They’ve really built the program,” he continued. “It’s been a roller coaster ride.”

Bramer and Dylan Barnowski also played baseball in the past for the Eagles, but that likely won’t happen this spring. Barnowski plans to golf, and Bramer expects to sit the spring season out and heal.

“We’ll never forget these last four years of varsity we played,” Barnowski said. “I‘ve decided to go a more relaxing route, and I’m going for some golf.”

With their Breslin dream over, the friends are ready to enjoy the St. Mary’s community support and move on. They’re bummed so many were sick in the end but won’t use it as an excuse.

“Hats off to Frankfort,” Barnowski said. “They did an incredible job of shutting us down.”

Bramer agreed.

“They just played their game better than we did,” he said. “They took the lead at the end of the third quarter, and it was a battle from there.”

Tom SpencerTom 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 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) St. Mary’s seniors Dylan Barnowski, left, and Shawn Bramer hold up the team’s District championship trophy last week. (2) Eagles coach Matt Barnowski, center, and assistant Sander Scott coach up their team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick. (3) Dylan Barnowski and Bramer also teamed up during successful football careers. (4) St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Bramer, Jack Glynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. (Sideline photo by Tom Spencer; player photos by Emmerson Lamb Photography.)