Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 12

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 27, 2023

The seeds for this season’s District brackets are set as 726 Michigan boys basketball teams are finishing up their regular seasons this week in advance of the playoffs beginning March 6.

MI Student Aid

Brackets were seeded and filled Sunday, and published here for all four divisions:

Division 1 | Division 2 | Division 3 | Division 4

This will be the last of our regular-season “Breslin Bound” reports, as next week we switch the format up a bit while previewing several of the strongest Districts across the state.

“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. Grand Rapids South Christian 82, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 54 The Sailors (18-3) also needed to defeat Cedar Springs three days later, but this win over GRCC (15-6) opened the opportunity to share the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title with the Cougars and also ended their 75-game league winning streak going back to Feb. 21, 2017.

2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 68, Detroit U-D Jesuit 63 The Warriors (20-1) claimed their first Detroit Catholic League tournament championship reportedly since 1990 with their third win this season over the Cubs (17-4).

3. East Kentwood 61, Hudsonville 49 Friday’s winner-take-all for the outright O-K Red championship went to the Falcons (16-5), who had fallen to Hudsonville (15-6) by nine Jan. 27.

4. Warren Michigan Collegiate 58, Romulus Summit Academy 50 The Cougars (18-2) clinched the Charter School Conference tournament title in a rematch of last season’s championship game, won by Summit (18-2).

5. Hart 63, Mason County Central 45 The Pirates moved to 20-0 and clinched the outright West Michigan Conference Rivers championship – reportedly their first league title since 1963 in boys hoops.

Watch List

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


East Kentwood (16-5) The Falcons have hit their stride during a seven-game winning streak that included clinching the O-K Red title (see above) and also avenging an earlier loss to Grandville, plus defeating Detroit Old Redford at Benton Harbor’s Wilson Chandler Shootout. East Kentwood was 6-15 just a season ago and 3-12 the year before that, but also has pairs of wins over Rockford (14-7) and Grand Haven (16-5) this season and an opportunity to impress further in the regular-season finale against South Christian.

River Rouge (15-5) The Panthers have won 10 of their last 12 as they prepare for the postseason, with a pair of wins over Hamtramck (13-7) and others over Davison (16-6), Lansing Waverly (16-6), Grosse Pointe South (17-4) and Brownstown Woodhaven (16-4) boosted by good losses to Brother Rice and Ferndale among others. Rouge earned the second seed at the District at Detroit Cass Tech, with another boost from defeating Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 63-59 at Saturday’s 313 Classic.


Cadillac (16-4) The Vikings bounced back from two and one-point losses to Traverse City Central and Petoskey, respectively, to defeat Traverse City West 58-30 on Friday and clinch a shared Big North Conference championship with the Trojans. It was a repeat of the 2021-22 league finish, and Cadillac will hope to build on last season’s playoff run as well after reaching the Division 2 Quarterfinals. Cadillac followed up the one-point loss to the Northmen with a one-point win over Big Rapids (17-2), which went well with other impressive victories over Ludington (18-2) and McBain (17-4).

Grand Rapids South Christian (18-3) As noted above, the Sailors ended GRCC’s incredible league winning streak – but that wasn’t the first highlight for South Christian this winter. Total, the Sailors have 11 victories over teams with double-digit wins, and 15 victories have come by double digits. They started 1-2 with losses to Grand Rapids Christian and Grand Rapids Northview, but those along with a loss to GRCC in their first meeting no doubt helped boost South into the top seed in its District at Plainwell.


Ecorse (13-3) After reaching the Division 3 Semifinals a year ago, Ecorse is picking up plenty of momentum for a repeat run with 11 straight wins after taking its three losses consecutively in December to larger Oak Park, Detroit Renaissance and Detroit Catholic Central. The Raiders have gone over 80 points seven times and 90 points five times during this current streak, which began with a win over Division 1 Woodhaven. Ecorse most recently defeated Detroit University Prep Art & Design (14-5) by four at the 313 Classic.

Traverse City St. Francis (17-3) The Gladiators appear to be in top form, having earned a shared Lake Michigan Conference title last week in part by defeating then-leader Boyne City 58-34 to avenge a Jan. 24 loss to the Ramblers. The only other defeats came to Division 1 Grand Haven and Detroit Cass Tech (21-0), and the latter by only seven points. St. Francis will squeeze the last bits of prep possible out of this week with tests against McBain (17-4) and Cadillac before heading into the District at Lake City seeded first and opposite postseason rival Glen Lake (17-3).


Rudyard (16-5) The Bulldogs are among the handful of Upper Peninsula schools that play in multiple conferences, and while they are third in the Straits Area Conference they have finished a perfect run through the Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference. Only last week, to Sault St. Marie, did Rudyard take its first loss by more than five points. The Bulldogs are seeded first in the District they host next week, with four other EUPC teams in the field. Wins over Mackinaw City (17-3) and Indian River Inland Lakes (15-5) no doubt provided a solid boost toward that rating.

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (15-5) The reigning Division 4 champion is a win better than at this point last season, and with the same kind of experience as usual having played mostly larger schools outside of league play. A pair of losses by a combined five points have the Defenders as part of a three-way tie for second place in the Alliance League, but they have four wins over teams with 12 or more victories – most recently against Pewamo-Westphalia (12-6) and reigning Division 3 champion Schoolcraft (13-7).

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Ferndale (12-7) at North Farmington (17-1) – These two have the top MPRs in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively, and are second and first in the Oakland Activities Association Red thanks to North Farmington’s 50-48 win in the first meeting Jan. 31.

Tuesday – Kalamazoo Central (18-2) at Muskegon (19-2) – A pair of programs with two of the longest traditions of success in state history match up in the regular-season finale for both.

Thursday – Grand Blanc (19-2) at Flint Beecher (16-3) – Grand Blanc has won the last two meetings between these Flint-area powers, in regular-season finales last year and in 2020.

Thursday – Iron Mountain (19-1) at Negaunee (15-5) – The Mountaineers have a one-game lead on the Miners heading into this Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East finale.

Friday – Detroit Cass Tech (21-0) vs. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (20-1) at Detroit Mercy – This Calihan Hall Operation Friendship showdown of champions could end up among the most memorable in the series in some time.'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.

PHOTO Otsego takes on Paw Paw on Friday in an eventual 58-44 win that kept the Bulldogs atop the Wolverine Conference standings. (Photo by Gary Shook.)

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.)