Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys Quarterfinal Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 12, 2024

One more win.

It’s a lot at this time of year, but also all that 32 boys basketball teams need to reach our final destination this season – Breslin Center for Thursday and Friday’s MHSAA Semifinals.

MI Student AidWe glance at all 16 of tonight’s Quarterfinals across four divisions below. Games tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted. Details on tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Boys Basketball page. To watch all 16 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 (Abbreviations below denote ppg - points per game, rpg - rebounds per game, apg - assists per game, spg - steals per game, and bpg - blocks per game.)

Week in Review

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

1. Grand Rapids Christian 61, Benton Harbor 51 The Tigers (24-2) entered the postseason No. 1 in Division 2 MPR, and Grand Rapids Christian (24-2) was No. 3 bringing even more prestige to this Regional Final.

2. Jackson Lumen Christi 53, Laingsburg 47 The Titans (22-4) continued to establish themselves among the elite, perhaps most loudly in this Regional Final against previously-undefeated Laingsburg (25-1).

3. St. Ignace 58, Munising 42 St. Ignace (20-6) repeated as a Regional champion in ending the season for last year’s Division 4 Finals winner Munising (20-5).

4. Crystal Falls Forest Park 66, Lake Linden-Hubbell 52 The Trojans (22-4) had fallen 66-54 to LL-H (22-4) just three weeks earlier but avenged to claim a Division 4 Regional championship.

5. Flint Becher 46, Cass City 35 Beecher (10-16) continued its postseason surge by ending Cass City’s run in the Regional for the second-straight year, this time with the Red Hawks closing at 24-2.

Isaiah Hines (11) applies defensive pressure during Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 61-39 Regional Semifinal win over Milford.

Quarterfinals at a Glance


Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (24-1) vs. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (20-6) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5:30 p.m. - WATCH

After reaching the Division 1 Semifinals last season, and returning junior guard Trey McKenney (22.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg), St. Mary’s has been many people’s Division 1 favorite all winter long. The Eaglets defeated Catholic High School League Central rival Brother Rice three times during the regular season – 66-47, 59-41 and most recently 58-55 on Feb. 17, and the Warriors would love to reverse what happened last year when they defeated OLSM twice during the regular season but fell to the Eaglets in a District Final. Sophomore forward Elijah Williams leads Rice at 15.7 ppg.

East Lansing (24-2) vs. Ann Arbor Huron (21-4) at Holt - WATCH

East Lansing was able to get through three of its league opponents and another league champion in Portage Central on the way to a third Regional title over the last four seasons. Sophomore guard Kelvin Torbert Jr. (17 ppg) and junior guard Cameron Hutson (17.1 ppg) set the pace. Huron navigated a tough Regional last week defeating Detroit Catholic Central by a point and Wayne Memorial by three, and can turn to junior point guard Macari Moore (23 ppg, 3.6 apg) at crunch time.

Muskegon (23-2) vs. Zeeland West (19-7) at Grand Haven - WATCH

Last season’s Division 1 runner-up Muskegon has won 12 straight and 18 of its last 19 games, including 52-35 and 53-44 over Zeeland West as they finished tied for first and third, respectively, in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green. Five Big Reds average between 7-9.5 ppg, with 6-foot-6 senior center Terrance Davis (9.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg) manning the middle. The Dux counter with 6-7 senior Merritt Alderink (13.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg).

River Rouge (16-10) vs. North Farmington (21-2) at University of Detroit Mercy - WATCH

River Rouge reached the season’s final week thanks in part to a 66-60 Regional Semifinal win over 2023 Division 1 champion Detroit Cass Tech. Senior forward Ke’Shawn Fisher (23.6 ppg, 51 3-pointers) keys the offense. North Farmington has been on the verge of this run the last few seasons and won its first Regional title since finishing Division 1 runner-up in 2016. Senior guard/forward Tyler Spratt leads four players averaging at least 13 points per game at 16 ppg with eight rebounds, four steals and three assists per contest as well.


Kingsford (21-4) vs. Flint Powers Catholic (21-5) at Gaylord - WATCH

Kingsford won its first Regional title since 1992 and has reached 21 wins for the second straight season. Junior guard Gavin Grondin leads at 21.4 ppg with 60 3-pointers, and three others add between 8-9 ppg. Powers is back in a Quarterfinal for the first time since 2013, continuing an impressive rise after finishing just 5-17 two seasons ago. Junior guard Javontae Ross (16.4 ppg, 5.4 apg) leads three Chargers scoring at least 12 ppg.  

Warren Lincoln (21-4) vs. Goodrich (21-5) at Lake Orion - WATCH

Lincoln is seeking to take another step after upping its win total for the third-straight season and winning its first Regional championship. Junior guard Markus Blackwell leads four scoring at least 9.5 ppg at 17, and twin brother Moses Blackwell has 68 3-pointers. Goodrich has won 12 straight and all but one of those by double digits. The LePla brothers – junior center Parker and freshman guard Jenson – pace the scoring at 18.4 and 15.6 ppg, respectively.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central (20-5) vs. Grand Rapids Christian (24-2) at Hamilton - WATCH

This is a rematch for Grand Rapids Christian’s 69-50 win Dec. 18 at the Cornerstone University Holiday Classic. That was the middle of three December losses for the Cougars, but they’re 19-2 this calendar year – and senior Durral Brooks (27 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 5.0 apg) was named this season’s Mr. Basketball Award winner Monday. Senior guard Nate Johnson (12.2 ppg) and senior forward Jaylan Ouwinga (11.7) lead a balanced Eagles effort as two of five senior starters.

Chelsea (20-6) vs. Detroit University Prep (17-8) at Ypsilanti Lincoln - WATCH

Chelsea has won 16 of its last 17 games – the only loss during that time by three to River Rouge – and can rely on senior guards Jake Stephens (25.3 ppg) and Joey Cabana (21.3) when in need of a big bucket. University Prep has won 10 of its last 12, and after finishing second to Romulus Summit Academy North in the Charter School Conference Gold avenged an 85-58 loss to Summit with a 60-54 Regional Semifinal win. Junior guard Dimaunye Smith-Powe sets the pace at 14 points and six assists per game.


Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (18-8) vs. Niles Brandywine (23-3) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix - WATCH

Covenant Christian is playing in its fourth Quarterfinal over the last eight years and first since 2021, and the Chargers are coming off their best win of the season – 46-45 over Pewamo-Westphalia (23-3) in the Regional Final. Junior center Ben Elzinga (13.2 ppg) and senior guard Carter Scholten (12.1 ppg) pace a balanced lineup. Brandywine has won 14 of its last 15 games as it pursues a second-straight trip to Breslin Center after making the Semifinals a year ago. Senior forward Jaremiah Palmer (13.8 ppg) and senior guard Byron Linley (13.4 ppg) lead four players averaging at least nine points per game.

Menominee (20-6) vs. McBain (24-2) at Gaylord, 5 p.m. - WATCH

The Maroons won their second Regional title in three seasons with wins over Iron Mountain (22-2) and Painesdale Jeffers (23-2) along the way and led in part by a handful of players who saw the floor briefly when the team finished Division 3 runner-up in 2022. Senior guard Trevor Theuerkauf (14.3 ppg) and sophomore forward Tanner Theuerkauf (15.7) are siblings and the team’s leading scorers. McBain is making its second Quarterfinal appearance in four seasons, paced by 6-9 senior center Evan Haverkamp (16.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.5 bpg) and a balanced cast around him.

Detroit Old Redford (19-7) vs. Flint Beecher (10-16) at St. Clair County Community College, 5:30 p.m. - WATCH

Old Redford gives the CSC Gold another team playing this week as it makes its first Quarterfinal appearance. The Ravens are on an 11-game winning streak and have only one senior starter – forward Justin Austin – and two on the roster total. Beecher is the reigning Division 3 champion and as much a regular this week as any team, back after winning its 15th Regional title over the last 17 years. The Bucs forfeited eight wins during the regular season, but have rallied with senior guard Damarcus Burke Jr. (13.6 ppg, 3.3 apg) playing a lead role.

Jackson Lumen Christi (22-4) vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard (22-3) at Ypsilanti Lincoln, 5:30 p.m. - WATCH

These two couldn’t be more familiar with each other at this point, as they shared the CHSL AA championship and played a second time in the Cardinal Tournament championship game, with Richard winning that matchup 54-48 to even the season series. Lumen has jumped from 14-10 a year ago and handed Laingsburg its lone loss this season in the Regional Final, 53-47. Aside from falling to the Titans in their first meeting 62-49 on Jan. 26, Gabriel Richard’s only other defeats were to Division 1 Detroit Catholic Central and Cass Tech.


Crystal Falls Forest Park (22-4) vs. St. Ignace (20-6) at Gladstone - WATCH

Forest Park is coming off its first Regional title since 2007 and also has enjoyed a quick rise after finishing 9-12 just two seasons ago. The Trojans have won 16 of their last 18 games and avenged both of those losses during the postseason. Freshman forward Vic and junior forward Kevin Giuliani, another pair of brothers playing this week, are scoring a team-leading 15.5 and 14.5 ppg, respectively. St. Ignace is playing in its second-straight Quarterfinal after ending the repeat bid for 2023 Division 4 champ Munising in the Regional Final. Senior guard Jonny Ingalls (30 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 4.0 spg, 2.5 bpg) fills the stat sheet and is one of three Saints averaging double-digit scoring.

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (21-5) vs. St. Joseph Our Lake of the Lake Catholic (19-5) at Portage Northern - WATCH

Last season’s Division 4 runner-up Tri-unity has won 11 of its last 12 games and three of four during the playoffs by at least 29 points. Senior guard Jordan VanKlompenberg (12.8 ppg) and senior forward Wesley Kaman (10.5 ppg) are the lead scorers of another balanced attack. Our Lady has jumped from last season’s 7-15 finish to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2003. Owen McLoughlin is a big reason why averaging 27.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game with 68 3-pointers.

Maple City Glen Lake (22-4) vs. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (24-2) at Houghton Lake - WATCH

Jason Bradford took over Glen Lake’s boys program this season after 15 with the girls varsity and after ending that tenure with last year’s run to the Division 4 title. Glen Lake’s boys have continued to build on their recent success with their first Regional title since finishing Class C runner-up in 2018. Sophomore center Jacob Plamondon averages 19.3 points 6.7 rebounds per game. Sacred Heart is seeking a second Semifinals berth in four seasons and has lost only to Tri-unity in December and Division 1 Cadillac in mid-February. Center Aidan Halliday is the lone senior starter for the Irish.

Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (22-4) vs. Kingston (18-8) at St. Clair County Community College - WATCH

Inter-City Baptist has won several District championships under longtime coach Mark Kraatz, and broke through last week for its first Regional title since 2012. The Chargers have won nine straight games to reach this point, with sophomore guard Ethan Esse leading with 20.2 ppg and 74 3-pointers this winter. Kingston also is coming off its first Regional title since 2007, with eight wins over its last nine games. Senior guard Owen Corlis sets the pace at 18.6 ppg, with junior center Austin DeRoseau adding 14.1 and nine rebounds per contest.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). 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 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) Crystal Falls Forest Park's Vic Giuliani (32) dunks the ball against Lake Linden-Hubbell during last week’s 66-52 Regional Final win. (Middle) Isaiah Hines (11) applies defensive pressure during Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 61-39 Regional Semifinal win over Milford. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle 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.)