Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Regional Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 13, 2023

If last week’s Districts were an indication, watch out as the final 128 boys basketball teams make their way through the final two weeks of this MHSAA Tournament.

MI Student Aid

Six of 16 teams that reached the Breslin Center in 2022 saw their 2023 runs end last week. So too did two of the top seven (including No. 1) in this regular season’s Division 1 Michigan Power Ratings (MPR), five of the top 10 in Division 2, two of the top six in Division 3 and two of the top four in Division 4.

Below are glances at five of the most noteworthy results from District week, and a few more details on three Regionals of note in every division.

Once again, everything you could want to know this week about tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Boys Basketball page. To watch any of several games online, visit the NFHS Network.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at

Week in Review

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

1. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 57, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 50 The Eaglets (11-10) were the second seed in their District but still sent a shockwave through the entire bracket in upsetting arguably the overall Division 1 favorite Warriors (22-2).

2. Warren Michigan Collegiate 60, Warren Lincoln 55 The Cougars (20-2) took a big step as one of the overall favorites in Division 2 in downing another popular pick in Lincoln (19-5).

3. Menominee 60, Iron Mountain 54 The Maroons (14-10) had some retooling to do this winter after graduating standouts from last year’s Division 3 runner-up finisher, but they’ve won five straight and clinched this District title by avenging a 12-point Feb. 6 loss to the Mountaineers (21-2).

4. Michigan Center 49, Napoleon 46 After losing their first meeting by 17 and their second by only five, Michigan Center (17-7) pulled even and got past the league rival Pirates (22-2) in another Division 3 District Final.

5. Cadillac 56, Hart 32 One of the most competitive Districts in any division was clinched by the Big North Conference co-champion Vikings (20-4), who dealt the Pirates (23-1) their lone loss.

Holt’s Isaiah Foster (4) finds a teammate during the Rams’ win Friday over Mason.

Regionals at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:


Kalamazoo Central (20-3) vs. East Lansing (14-9), Holt (16-9) vs. Battle Creek Central (16-7)

Longtime power Kalamazoo Central has reached 20 wins for the first time since 2016-17 and is playing for a second-straight Regional title. An intriguing Regional Final could await as a Feb. 23 rematch with longtime rival Battle Creek Central was snowed out after the Maroon Giants won their first meeting 63-51 on Jan. 19. Standing in the way are a pair of teams from the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, and probably not the ones anticipated. East Lansing finished third in the league but upset champion Lansing Waverly on Friday, and sixth-place Holt eliminated league runner-up Okemos in a District Semifinal.

Holland West Ottawa
Rockford (18-7) vs. Hudsonville (17-7), East Kentwood (18-6) vs. Muskegon (22-2)

A District Final upset also plays into this bracket as Rockford defeated 2022 Division 1 semifinalist Grand Rapids Northview 53-49 on Friday. The Rams next see Hudsonville for the third time after winning the first two matchups by three and one point. Both of those teams finished behind champion East Kentwood in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red, the Falcons sweeping Rockford and splitting with Hudsonville but winning the second meeting by 12. But amid all of the O-K Red, O-K Green champion Muskegon is arguably the favorite this week – and tonight’s matchup is especially notable as Big Reds coach Keith Guy and Falcons coach Mike Thomas have had tons of success at the championship levels of the MHSAA Tournament.

Detroit U-D Jesuit (20-4) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (11-10), Troy (18-6) vs. North Farmington (21-1)

This bracket was going to be power-packed no matter what, and features an added storyline after St. Mary’s avenged two defeats to Brother Rice in winning their District Final. Next up is another Catholic League Central power, and the Eaglets and Cubs split this season – St. Mary’s winning by three and then Jesuit winning by 15 in the rematch. On the other side, North Farmington has been considered among a handful of Division 1 favorites all season long. The Raiders have won 17 straight but face a Colts team that’s steadily been rising from six wins two seasons ago to 13 last year. If they both win tonight, this is sure to be brought up before Wednesday: St. Mary’s defeated North Farmington 46-44 in a Regional Semifinal last season.


Bridgeport (20-4) vs. Flint Hamady (18-4), Shepherd (20-4) vs. Saginaw (18-6)

After an uncharacteristic 8-13 finish a year ago, Bridgeport is back and an intriguing contender this week riding an eight-game winning streak. Hamady is another, having reached the Regional Final last season and losing this one only to rival Flint Beecher twice, Detroit University Prep and Division 1 Davison. Shepherd has been a great story enjoying its best season in at least a decade. But a lot of eyes will be on Saginaw High, which is nearing its end as one of the most legendary programs in state history as the school will merge with Arthur Hill in 2024. The Trojans lost to Hamady in a Regional Semifinal last season, but all of their defeats this winter came against strong Division 1 teams.

Kingsford (20-3) vs. Boyne City (20-4), Cadillac (20-4) vs. Standish-Sterling (22-0)

On paper alone, this might be the most competitive Regional in any division. All four are league champions in addition to 20-game winners – and none has faced any of the others this winter. Cadillac emerged as the Regional champ from a similar grouping a year ago, defeating Standish-Sterling along the way, and that remains the Panthers’ only loss over their last 37 games. The Flivvers were 6-15 just three seasons ago but lost to only one instate opponent this season – 21-game winner Iron Mountain twice. Boyne has had several solid wins and good losses as well, and it shared the Lake Michigan Conference title with Traverse City St. Francis, which is still playing in Division 3. Cadillac’s losses all came to Division 1 teams as it shared the Big North Conference title with Traverse City Central.

Imlay City
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (11-13) vs. Croswell-Lexington (21-3), Richmond (22-2) vs. Goodrich (20-4)

A third matchup of Blue Water Area Conference co-champions Croswell-Lexington and Richmond could be on the way in the Regional Final, with Richmond winning their first meeting by nine and Cros-Lex the rematch by the same margin. It would seem the Blue Devils have the tougher challenge to set up that opportunity, as Goodrich was one of three co-champions in the Flint Metro League Stars and reached the Regional Final a year ago. But don’t count out the Fighting Irish – they defeated Goodrich in that Regional Final last season (although Goodrich avenged with a 15-point win Jan. 6) and have won five of their last seven while playing 19 games this winter against teams with winning records.  


Detroit Edison
Detroit Edison (15-9) vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley (12-11), New Haven (17-7) vs. Detroit Loyola (23-1)

Loyola reached the Regional Final last season and lost this season only to Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth, along the way defeating Bishop Foley by 23 and several larger opponents as well. New Haven is the team that defeated Loyola in last year’s Regional Final, and the Rockets are plenty prepared for this week after navigating a schedule that also included mostly Division 1 teams. Edison has played the same; few teams in any division have a more impressive list of losses, and the Pioneers claimed notable wins over River Rouge and Detroit Western coming off a Division 2 Quarterfinal run a year ago. Bishop Foley loaded it up its final weeks of the regular season and defeated 18-win Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest in their District Final.

Laingsburg (23-0) vs. Jonesville (19-5), Michigan Center (17-7) vs. Leslie (18-6)

The Wolfpack have nearly doubled their victory total from a season ago and downed 18-game winner Ovid-Elsie by 40 in the District Final; Laingsburg has yet to play a single-digit game this season. Jonesville should provide one of its strongest challenges. The Big 8 Conference champion nearly handed 21-game winner Napoleon what would’ve been its first loss, falling to the Pirates by just a basket two weeks ago. After eliminating Napoleon in a District Final, Michigan Center is playing for a second-straight Regional title and opens with a relatively familiar opponent after defeating Leslie 64-55 on Dec. 13. The Blackhawks have won 11 of their last 13 games, however, and five of their losses came to teams that won 20 games or District titles.

Kent City
Blanchard Montabella (22-2) vs. Grandville Calvin Christian (23-1), Pewamo-Westphalia (17-6) vs. North Muskegon (19-4)

More success this week would just add to a great story for Montabella, which won six games three seasons ago, improved to seven and then jumped to 18-4 last winter before further dominating this one. The Squires, meanwhile, haven’t received a ton of fanfare this season but deserve it – their only loss was to Division 2 Hudsonville Unity Christian on Dec. 9, and they won an O-K Silver that has seen five teams win 14 or more games. P-W finished second to Laingsburg in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference and defeated Calvin Christian during last year’s Regional on the way to reaching the Quarterfinals. The Pirates have won five straight following a three-game losing streak near the end of February. North Muskegon made the Regional Semifinals in 2022 and its Regional Final the season before, and a championship this week would be its first at this level of the playoffs since 2003.  


Baldwin (22-1) vs. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (18-6), Lansing Christian (15-9) vs. Fruitport Calvary Christian (14-9)

Reigning Division 4 champion Tri-unity always seems to be a contender, and this season is no different as the Defenders can boast notable wins over reigning Division 3 champion Schoolcraft and P-W (see above) among others. But Baldwin could be its biggest challenge so far, its only loss to Division 2 Remus Chippewa Hills in mid-January and with a pair of big wins over Mesick (19-5) highlighting its run. On the other side, Lansing Christian has emerged as the smallest school from a Greater Lansing Activities Conference that included Leslie, and after the Pilgrims finished just 5-16 a year ago. Calvary Christian plays in the Alliance League with Tri-unity and opened this surge with its best win, by 23 over Saugatuck to start the final week of the regular season.

St. Ignace
Munising (22-1) vs. Rudyard (19-5), Mackinaw City (20-4) vs. Onaway (21-3)

Munising hasn’t played a team with less than a winning record since the last day of January, making its run even more impressive. The Mustangs edged Rudyard 67-64 on Feb. 8, but Rudyard has lost only once since – to Division 1 Sault Ste. Marie – and swept Brimley, the only team to defeat Munising. Mackinaw City and Onaway both won league championships and also faced off twice this season, Mackinaw City winning 76-70 during the first week and Onaway avenging 87-74 in the regular-season finale. The Cardinals went on to win their District games by a combined four points, the championship decider 58-55 over Indian River Inland Lakes, one of two teams with which Onaway shared the Ski Valley Conference title. The win over Mackinaw City was the Comets’ only loss over its last 12 games.

Traverse City West
Gaylord St. Mary (20-4) vs. Frankfort (15-8), Mesick (19-5) vs. Lake Leelanau St. Mary (19-3)

Gaylord St. Mary was the third team that shared the Ski Valley title with Onaway and Inland Lakes, and the Snowbirds have bounced way back from last season’s 10-13 finish. Frankfort has won six of its last seven games and has plenty of experience at this stage, having reached the Quarterfinals in 2021 and the Regional Semifinals last winter as well. Mesick has been making up for some unfinished business from last year when it suffered its only loss in a Division 3 District Final, and Lake Leelanau St. Mary is on a mission as well after reaching the Division 4 Semifinals a year ago. The Eagles have wins over Frankfort by 26 and Gaylord St. Mary by 12 this season.'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.

PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford's Gavin Grondin (23) goes up for a shot last week while defended by Negaunee's Brodin Bell (20). (Middle) Holt’s Isaiah Foster (4) finds a teammate during the Rams’ win Friday over Mason. (Top photo by Cara Kamps, middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)

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.)