Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 7

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 23, 2023

We're midway through another basketball season – which means not only increased focus on league title races but also many more people watching the daily movement of the MHSAA's Michigan Power Ratings used to seed the top two teams in each District and place them on opposite sides of the bracket.

MI Student Aid

An explanation of how MPR is calculated and full lists for all four divisions can be found clicking here. We also reference MPR much more below and will continue to do so moving forward over the next six weeks, as every game added into the equation makes MPR a more accurate representation of what teams are accomplishing this winter.

“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. Benton Harbor 64, Flint Beecher 62 Benton Harbor (9-2) opened a big week by handing Watervliet its first loss and closed it by handing Beecher (9-2) its second in this nail-biter at the GottaGetIt Hoops Classic at East Kentwood.

2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 67, Kalamazoo Central 50 Also at the GottaGetIt Hoops Classic, Rice (11-1) continued its run through top competition by handing Kalamazoo Central (9-1) its lone defeat.

3. Detroit Cass Tech 57, Detroit Martin Luther King 55 The Technicians edged their rivals to move to 12-0, a win that’s more key than what’s on paper as King’s 2-5 record includes losses to several of the state’s best.

4. Saline 62, Chelsea 60 Another two-point game saw the Hornets (8-3) hand Chelsea (10-1) its first defeat this season.

5. Grand Rapids Christian 63, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 58 Another strong matchup at East Kentwood saw the Eagles improve to 7-2 with a close win over the reigning Division 1 champion Pilots (7-5).

 Otsego and Paw Paw met last week as Otsego went on to a 71-42 victory.

Watch List

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


Muskegon (10-0) The Big Reds have put it all together so far to build on last season’s 20-3 finish, even avenging one of those few losses by downing Ferndale 62-51 at its Muskegon Basketball Showcase two weeks ago. Also among impressive wins was an 81-79 overtime thriller against 2022 Division 2 runner-up Grand Rapids Catholic Central and a 50-45 victory over Warren Lincoln, both also at showcase events. A matchup with North Farmington (see below) is coming up Feb. 4.

North Farmington (8-1) A one-point loss to Warren Lincoln at the Dec. 17 Northville Showcase is all that separates North Farmington from a perfect record, and the Raiders have moved into the top spot in Division 1 MPR this week. The schedule has been loaded, with wins also over Benton Harbor, Grand Blanc, Hamtramck, Detroit King and Detroit Edison among others.


Onsted (9-2) Coming off a 22-1 finish that saw its only loss in a Regional Semifinal to eventual Division 2 champion Williamston, Onsted is impressing again with its only in-state defeat to still-unbeaten Olivet in the Dec. 29 Shot Clock Classic at Spring Arbor. (The other defeat was last week to Ohio contender Rossford at the MLK Day Classic in Toledo.) Onsted also has handed Clinton one of its two losses and has a two-game lead on the field in the Lenawee County Athletic Association.

Standish-Sterling (10-0) The Panthers also have built a quick two-game lead in their league, the Tri-Valley Conference 10-1, after tying with Carrollton for a TVC division title last season. Standish-Sterling opened this winter with a 44-32 victory over the Cavaliers, and is riding a solid string this calendar year starting with a win over Tawas and lately including victories over Reed City in overtime and by 17 over league opponent Millington.


Iron Mountain (9-0) Seven of nine opponents Iron Mountain has faced so far are .500 or better, and the Mountaineers have downed 60 percent of the Great Northern Conference defeating larger Kingsford, Escanaba and Gladstone over the last three weeks. Iron Mountain also has a win over Ishpeming Westwood, which like Kingsford handed the Mountaineers two defeats last season. More tests are on the way including Negaunee on Tuesday and undefeated Powers North Central on Jan. 30.

Michigan Center (7-4) Even with four losses, Michigan Center is up to No. 4 in Division 3 MPR, with those defeats to Onsted (see above), undefeateds Olivet and Napoleon, and eight-win Division 2 Croswell-Lexington. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are just a game behind Napoleon in the Cascades Conference standings with strong nonleague wins over Concord, Leslie and Reading. They see Napoleon again Feb. 16.


Painesdale Jeffers (10-0) A 74-71 win over Escanaba on Friday put an exclamation point on a great start as Painesdale Jeffers has played only two single-digit games despite five opponents that remain .500 or better and a sixth that’s south of .500 because of a loss from the Jets. Jeffers also won last week over Ewen-Trout Creek, which with Escanaba were two of four teams to hand the Jets defeats as they finished 18-4 a year ago.

Traverse City Christian (8-2) Two losses by a combined four points are all that’s kept Traverse City Christian from a perfect start, and those defeats were to Onekama (6-3) and Gaylord St. Mary (10-1) – two of six opponents that remain .500 or better. A pair of wins over Marion and others over Ellsworth and Harbor Light Christian are notable, as was a 66-63 win over Buckley that avenged a pair of defeats from last season.

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (11-1) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (10-1) – These two join Orchard Lake St. Mary’s atop the Detroit Catholic League Central with one loss apiece, and Jesuit hosts the Eaglets on Friday.

Tuesday – Traverse City St. Francis (8-1) at Boyne City (10-1) – These are the only two left without a Lake Michigan Conference defeat as Boyne attempts to dethrone the reigning champion Gladiators.

Thursday – Clarkston (10-3) at North Farmington (8-1) – North Farmington swept last season’s two meetings and may have to again to stay atop a loaded Oakland Activities Association Red.

Friday – Grand Rapids Christian (7-2) at Grand Rapids Northview (10-1) – Northview has a one-game lead on Christian in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White standings after the pair split last season’s meetings on the way to Northview winning the title.

Sunday – Flint Beecher (9-2) at Detroit Cass Tech (12-0) – The Technicians host the Bucs as part of their Downtown Throw Down, with this 7:45 p.m. game capping the event.'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) New Lothrop's Jaden Curry (44) looks for an open teammate while Frankenmuth defends during the Eagles' 75-45 win. (Middle) Otsego and Paw Paw met last week as Otsego went on to a 71-42 victory. (Photos by Terry Lyons and Gary Shook, 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.)