Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 2

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 19, 2022

Warren may be the place to be in Michigan high school boys basketball as we close in on the end of 2022.

MI Student Aid

Our two most notable wins from this past week were by Warren-based teams on the rise. Our most intriguing game this week is a rematch of last season’s Division 1 Final, won by another notable Warren hoops power.

Of course, great basketball is being played all over the state, and we name a number of others who have impressed so far or will have some great opportunities to do so over holiday break.

“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. Warren Michigan Collegiate 45, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 44 While Michigan Collegiate (3-1) had its share of on-court success last season and lost to Warren De La Salle Collegiate by only seven earlier this month, this was a major statement by the Division 2 Cougars with St. Mary’s (1-1) expected to contend in Division 1.

2. Warren Lincoln 56, North Farmington 55 Lincoln similarly won 19 games last season and looks ready to join the Division 2 elite after handing North Farmington (4-1) its only loss.

3. Kalamazoo Central 63, Saginaw 61 Central’s annual Don Jackson Invitational concluded with the Maroon Giants (4-0) remaining undefeated with a close win over the Trojans (3-2).

4. Grand Rapids Christian 58, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 50 The Eagles (3-0) avenged a 25-point Regional Semifinal loss from last season, plus a three-point regular-season defeat to the Cougars (0-2).

5. Detroit Edison 56, River Rouge 54 After losses to two teams that are currently 4-1, the Pioneers (1-2) got on the board at the Northville Showcase, handing River Rouge (2-1) its lone defeat.

Watch List

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


Ann Arbor Skyline (3-0) The Eagles face some significant competition to finish out 2022, but they look up to the challenge. They’re coming off a 17-6 finish last season and picked up an especially solid win Friday, 52-49 in overtime over Ann Arbor Pioneer after those two split last winter. West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Port Huron Northern to finish this month are opportunities to see where Skyline stands.

Port Huron Northern (3-0) The Huskies ended 15-6 last season after a 1-3 start, and they’ve begun this winter on the much different note starting with a 17-point win over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley at the MAC Champions Classic. After defeating rival Port Huron on Thursday, Northern capped the week Saturday with a 60-56 win over Croswell-Lexington – which entered this season a combined 61-4 over the last three.


Flint Hamady (2-0) The Hawks got things started last week with an 87-62 win over Genesee Christian – a Division 4 semifinalist last season. Hamady then defeated Flint Southwestern by 33 the next day, and could be primed to take another step after improving from 2-10 in 2020-21 to finishing 15-7 and reaching the Regional Finals in March.

Hart (4-0) The Pirates have improved from four to five to seven wins the last three seasons, respectively, and they’re well on their way to building on those totals again. The most impressive of this start was the most recent – 92-84 on Thursday over previously-undefeated Big Rapids, an 18-game winner last season.


Niles Brandywine (4-0) Last season’s 13-6 run ended with a District-opening loss to Buchanan, but Brandywine avenged it Friday with a 51-40 win over the Bucks. Brandywine was the champion in the final season of the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red and hopes to carry that success into the new Lakeland Athletic Conference, which includes BCS Red opponents Buchanan and Berrien Springs as well.

Vassar (3-0) A 2-4 run to end last season put the Vulcans at 9-13 overall, but they’ve turned that around to start this fall. One of those final defeats last season came to Harbor Beach, but Vassar opened this winter with a 59-57 win over the Pirates before defeating Marlette by five and then winning big last week against Mayville.  


Indian River Inland Lakes (3-0) The Bulldogs have made a strong impression already this season after going 8-13 in 2021-22. Inland Lakes opened with a 64-62 win over Harbor Springs to avenge one loss from last winter, then avenged two more by downing Johannesburg-Lewiston by 41 last week. They’ll have another chance to avenge with a trip Wednesday to Rogers City.

Mackinaw City (3-0) The Comets made major noise last week when their 71-56 win over Ellsworth ended the Lancers’ 61-game Northern Lakes Conference winning streak. Mackinaw City was second last season in the NLC – and 13-8 overall – and also has avenged a last-year loss to Onaway early this winter.

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Warren De La Salle Collegiate (4-0) at Grand Blanc (2-0) – This is a rematch of last season’s Division 1 championship game, won by De La Salle 67-58.

Dec. 28 – Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (4-0) vs. River Rouge (2-1) at North Farmington – This high-profile matchup helps start the North Farmington Holiday Extravaganza.

Dec. 28 – Bridgeport (4-0) vs. East Lansing (2-1) at St. Clair County Community College – This sets up as the most intriguing matchup of the SC4 Showcase.

Dec. 30 – Warren De La Salle Collegiate (4-0) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-2) at Ferndale – This Motor City Roundball Classic matchup pits the reigning Division 1 champion Pilots and Division 2 runner-up Cougars.

Dec. 30 – Detroit Cass Tech (2-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (3-0) at Ferndale – Another Motor City matchup pits teams that combined for 46 wins and two Regional titles last 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.

PHOTO A Davison player looks for an open teammate while surrounded by Saginaw Arthur Hill defenders Dec. 13. The Cardinals won 66-51. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.)