Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 10

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 13, 2023

From strictly an anecdotal point of view, it’s appeared Michigan’s best boys basketball teams have matched up more this regular season than most in recent memory.

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No doubt, expanding the schedule to 22 games has helped provide a few more opportunities. And it seems like every Saturday over the last 10 weeks has included one or more showcase events where several of the elite have faced off – which makes the nine undefeated teams we have left all the more impressive.

Detroit Cass Tech stands alone among the undefeated in Division 1, while Hart, Olivet and Standish-Sterling are without a loss in Division 2. Laingsburg and Napoleon are undefeated in Division 3, and Mio, Painesdale Jeffers and Taylor Trillium are at 1.000 winning percentages in Division 4. Another 24 teams have only one loss this season, and 20 have only two defeats – and we highlight a number of these teams below.

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Week in Review

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

1. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 73, Detroit U-D Jesuit 62 The Warriors (16-1) completed an outright championship run through the Detroit Catholic League Central, leaving the Cubs (15-3) in second place, and after finishing second to Jesuit last season.

2. Ferndale 82, Port Huron Northern 65 The Division 2 Eagles (9-6) are up to eight wins over their last nine games, this one over another Division 1 contender in PHN (16-2).

3. Munising 54, Powers North Central 49 The Upper Peninsula has four of the top nine teams in Division 4 MPR, and Munising (16-1) sits No. 9 but has another argument to be regarded higher after defeating No. 4 North Central (11-3).

4. Davison 94, Flint Hamady 90 (5OT) The finale of Davison’s Cardinal Classic was classic and memorable finishing in just under two hours and 10 minutes as the Cardinals (13-5) edged the Hawks (15-3).

5. Pittsford 71, Hillsdale Academy 66 (3OT) The Wildcats (12-3) avenged a 12-point loss to Hillsdale Academy (11-4) from Jan. 12 as the top teams in the Southern Central Athletic Association East met for the rematch.

Jakobie Boose (4) elevates for a jumper as Flint Hamady and Davison closed the Cardinal Classic with a five-overtime matchup won by the Cardinals 94-90.

Watch List

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


Ann Arbor Huron (16-1) A loss to Saline on Jan. 31 is the only misstep during an otherwise perfect run. Huron can clinch a share of the Southeastern Conference Red championship Tuesday against Monroe, which will go well with showcase victories over Port Huron Northern (16-2) and Benton Harbor (13-4) over the last three weeks. The River Rats also are coming off a 57-41 win over Ypsilanti Lincoln – which defeated Huron in its District opener last season after Huron had finished Division 1 runner-up in 2020-21.

Grosse Pointe South (15-3) The Blue Devils have gone from 11-11 overall and nearly worst to first in the Macomb Area Conference Red, having tied for fourth last season but clinching a perfect run to the league title with last week’s win over Macomb Dakota. This potential showed during two losses to start the season as they fell by only three to Detroit Loyola (17-1) and six to Ferndale, and the third loss was by just seven to River Rouge (12-5). South meanwhile has downed West Bloomfield (12-3), Saline (12-5), Birmingham Groves (11-5) and Roseville (11-6) twice.


Warren Lincoln (15-3) The Abes have built on last season’s 19-3 momentum with another league championship, this one in the MAC Gold, and Saturday’s 74-63 win over host Benton Harbor at the Wilson Chandler Shootout was the team’s ninth-straight win. Lincoln has done it against a stacked schedule, falling only to Brother Rice, Warren Fitzgerald and Muskegon (15-1) while defeating North Farmington (15-1), Detroit Martin Luther King and Grand Rapids Northview (13-4) and sweeping Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse (13-4) and Warren Woods Tower (13-5).

Warren Michigan Collegiate (14-2) A two-point double-overtime loss to Grand Rapids Christian on Feb. 4 broke a 12-game winning streak, but the only other defeat came to reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate as the Cougars have mostly dominated. A 45-44 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and 63-56 win over Detroit Edison are among the most notable work, with the latter earning Michigan Collegiate the Charter School Conference East championship.


Grandville Calvin Christian (15-1) The Squires have followed up last season’s 19-4 finish in part with a 14-game winning streak, their lone loss to Hudsonville Unity Christian on Dec. 9. The two months of undefeated play have included eight wins over teams with double-digit victories, including 62-54 over Hopkins and 60-54 over Wyoming Godwin Heights last week as Calvin Christian finished regular-season sweeps of those opponents. The Squires lead Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian by two games in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver with four to play – and they meet Feb. 24 after Calvin won the first round 83-66 on Jan. 27.

Ovid-Elsie (14-2) The Marauders are a combined 30-6 over the last two seasons as they play for a second-straight Mid-Michigan Activities Conference championship. Chesaning (15-3) has become a solid rival – those two have decided the last three league titles – and they’re tied for first with their rematch Friday deciding a share of the MMAC crown. Ovid-Elsie won the first meeting 55-51 in overtime Jan. 16, but had an early loss to Durand (14-3) – which it avenged 49-47 on Friday. Ovid-Elsie’s only other defeat came to undefeated Laingsburg (16-0) – a possible District opponent.


Bellevue (14-1) Going over 20 wins with a league championship has become the norm for the Broncos, and they’re working on a possible eighth-straight conference title this winter with their only loss nonleague to Bronson on Dec. 28. They’ve otherwise been perfect and mostly unchallenged, with only one single-digit win. The defensive work has been especially impressive; Bellevue has held three straight opponents (including Pittsford, see above) to under 20 points, and only three opponents all winter have scored more than 32.

Ironwood (13-3) The Red Devils followed two straight sub-.500 finishes with a 12-10 run last season, and they’ve raised their play a few more levels – especially over the last three weeks as they’ve won seven straight beginning with a 54-51 overtime victory over Watersmeet. Ironwood and Watersmeet are the main contenders in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain title race, and they meet again Feb. 16. A pair of strong in-state losses – to undefeated Painesdale Jeffers (16-0) and Houghton (12-3) – also are part of the resume.

Negaunee's Gavin Saunders (23) is defended by Ishpeming's Griffin Argall (24) during the Miners' 63-42 win.

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Monday – Hillman (14-1) at Mio (14-0) – The leaders of the North Star League’s divisions meet in advance of a possible rematch at their Division 4 District.

Wednesday – Pewamo-Westphalia (12-3) at Laingsburg (16-0) – There are still tough games to win in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, but getting two clear of the second-place Pirates would go a long way for the league-leading Wolfpack.

Thursday – Richmond (15-1) at Croswell-Lexington (13-3) – The Blue Devils are threatening Croswell-Lexington’s three-year hold on the Blue Water Area Conference title, having won their first matchup 53-44 on Jan. 19 to take the league lead.

Friday – Benton Harbor (13-4) at Niles Brandywine (14-1) – The Tigers’ 73-54 win over Brandywine on Jan. 13 is the difference at the top of the Lakeland Conference standings, and Benton Harbor can clinch a share of the title by finishing a regular-season sweep.

Saturday – Muskegon (15-1) at Grand Blanc (15-2) – The cross-state tilts among contenders are winding down for the regular season, and this will be one of the last but also could be one of the best.'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) Fowler and Bath tip off Friday in a game Bath would eventually win 75-66 in overtime. (Middle) Jakobie Boose (4) elevates for a jumper as Flint Hamady and Davison closed the Cardinal Classic with a five-overtime matchup won by the Cardinals 94-90. (Below) Negaunee's Gavin Saunders (23) is defended by Ishpeming's Griffin Argall (24) during the Miners' 63-42 win. (Photos by John Johnson, Terry Lyons and Cara Kamps, respectively.) 

Championship Experience from Coach's Point of View Unimaginable, Unforgettable

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

April 4, 2024

WYOMING – As the final buzzer sounded, it was all I could’ve imagined – and more.

West Michigan

In the weeks leading up to March 16 and the Division 4 championship game, I experienced every emotion possible as I envisioned what it would feel like to be an assistant coach on the bench at Michigan State’s Breslin Center as the Wyoming Tri-unity Christian boys basketball team achieved its ultimate goal.

In my first year as the junior varsity coach at Tri-unity, I had been on the varsity bench for a majority of the season, assisting legendary coach Mark Keeler and fellow assistants Brent Voorhees, Bob Przybysz and Mike Kaman.

I was there encouraging, motivating and supporting the varsity team. It was a role I embraced, and had become accustomed to over my almost 30 years coaching high school basketball.

I started coaching in 1995 as Jim Ringold gave me my first opportunity as the freshmen girls coach at Wyoming Kelloggsville High School. I would then coach Kelloggsville’s freshmen boys team for eight seasons, while also coaching the freshmen girls at Grandville High School. I would also coach the junior varsity teams at both schools.

I love coaching. I have a passion for it. I’ve always enjoyed getting the most out of my players while creating a bond between player and coach.

When girls basketball season moved from fall to winter joining the boys in 2007-08, I stayed at Grandville. I spent 21 seasons there before stepping down.

I still wanted to coach, and I heard that the Tri-unity junior varsity position was available. I had always respected and liked Keeler and was excited for the prospect of joining a perennial powerhouse.

I didn’t really know about Tri-unity growing up in the Wyoming Park school district. But as a young kid, I would rush home and eagerly await the afternoon delivery of the Grand Rapids Press. I would quickly find the sports page and read it from front to back, hoping one day to see my byline.

I began writing for the Press’ sports department in 1997. It was my dream job. And that’s also when I first started covering Tri-unity boys basketball.

I remember watching eventual NBA all-star Chris Kaman, along with Bryan Foltice and others play for this little Christian school and have unbridled success under Keeler.

MHSAA Tournament runs became the norm for the Defenders. They won their first Finals title in 1996, and they would claim four more over the next 26 years. They also had six runner-up finishes.

Tri-unity’s assistant coaches, including Holzwarth (second from right), monitor the action.I was sitting on media row writing for in 2022 when Brady Titus led Tri-unity to its fifth state championship.

I never thought that two years later I would be on the coaching staff as the Defenders pursued another one. But there I was.

I knew this year’s team had the potential to be special.

Tri-unity had returned four of its five starters from a year ago, after suffering a heart-breaking two-point loss to Munising in the Division 4 Final.

Eight seniors were on the roster. The team had a mix of talented guard play, senior leadership, size and depth. We had shooters and we played great defense, a trademark of Keeler’s teams.

This was the year, and that heaped lofty expectations on Keeler and the team. It was basically “state championship or bust.” Anything less would be considered a disappointment.

Keeler wanted it badly, and I knew the players did as well. I think they felt the pressure at times of living up to the expectations that had been set.

We had several lopsided wins, but also had a few tough losses to Division 2 and Division 3 teams – Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Wyoming Lee, Grandville Covenant Christian and Schoolcraft – all talented teams that I think made us better despite falling short.

As the postseason started, there was anxiety and excitement.

We were one of the favorites, but it wouldn’t be easy. We would have to earn each of the seven victories needed to win it all.

First came a District title, but then we had to play a quality Fowler team in its home gym in the Regional Semifinal. This was a game we knew would be a challenge – and it was.

We led by only one at halftime after a 7-0 run to end the second quarter. The score was tied 33-33 in the fourth quarter before senior Lincoln Eerdmans made a key 3-pointer to spark our victory.

As we went through the handshake line, several Fowler players said, “Good luck in the Finals.”

Our defense played extremely well in the Regional Final and state Quarterfinal to secure our team another trip to the Breslin.

St. Ignace was our opponent in the Semifinal, and we had to face a senior guard who could do it all – Jonny Ingalls. He lived up to the hype. He was good, and we didn’t have any answer for him in the first half. We trailed by one, only to fall behind by seven late in the third quarter.

Was this the end? Were we going to fall one game short of our goal?

Holzwarth and the coaching staff greet Keaton Blanker (4) as he comes off the floor. We were down by five points in the fourth quarter, but junior guard Keaton Blanker, and others, rose to the occasion. We rallied to win a tight one, and now we were one win away from a Division 4 title.

The night before the championship game, we stayed at a hotel in East Lansing as we had the first game of the day at 10 a.m. We had a team dinner, and the players seemed relaxed and eager to close out the season the way they had intended.

There was one thing that worried me. We were playing Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. A team we had played in the second game of the season and defeated by 30 points.

Would we be overconfident? I had no idea. They were a different team now, but so were we. Anything could happen.

Keeler gave a spirited and emotional pregame speech. In last year’s loss to Munising, he felt like the team played not to lose, and this season his big thing was “I want to win.” He said it to every starter that Saturday morning during the final moments in the locker room before tipoff, asking all five individually to say it back – which they did, the first one quietly but followed by teammates replying louder and louder as everyone got fired up and “I want to win” rang through the locker room. I think it inspired all of us.

After a competitive first quarter, we started to find our rhythm and expanded the lead. We were ahead by double-digits at the half, and a state title was within our grasp. Senior Wesley Kaman buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter to give us a 20-point cushion. It was at that point I knew we were going to win.

All five starters reached double-figure scoring, led by Jordan VanKlompenberg with 19 points and Owen Rosendall with 14. That balance was intentional and a successful sign for our team all season.

The exhilaration of winning was intoxicating. I loved watching the boys celebrate something they had worked so hard to accomplish. I will never forget their faces. I looked to my right from my seat on the bench and watched them running onto the court, just wearing their joy. They were just elated.

I was so happy for Keeler, a devout Christian who is respected by so many people in high school basketball circles. I learned so much from him this season. The way he approaches each game, his competitiveness. He instills his strong faith in his players and understands that the game of basketball is a bridge to a higher purpose.

Keeler is the fourth-winningest coach in state boys basketball history with a record of 694-216, and will be the winningest active coach next winter as all-time leader Roy Johnston retired from Beaverton at the end of this season.

The tournament run was one of the best coaching experiences I have had, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of a state championship season.

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) The Wyoming Tri-unity Christian bench, including the author (far right) and head coach Mark Keeler (middle), celebrate a 3-pointer late in the Defenders’ Division 4 championship win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. (Middle) Tri-unity’s assistant coaches, including Holzwarth (second from right), monitor the action. (Below) Holzwarth and the coaching staff greet Keaton Blanker (4) as he comes off the floor. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)