Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Regional Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.
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 MHSAA.com.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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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.)
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.