Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys Regional Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 5, 2024

As the saying goes, at this point in the tournament every team still playing has accomplished something – in this case, winning at least a District championship. 

MI Student AidAnd the path is much shorter for the 128 remaining contenders hoping to find their way to East Lansing in two weeks. 

Once again, everything you could want to know this week about tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Boys Basketball page. To watch any of several 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

Week in Review

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

1. Menominee 51, Iron Mountain 49 These two have seemed on a Division 3 District Final collision course since Menominee (18-6) won their first matchup 60-58 in overtime on Feb. 5, and Iron Mountain (22-2) ended its season with its only losses to the Maroons.

2. River Rouge 59, Dearborn 58 The Panthers (14-10) clinched a Division 1 District title by handing Dearborn (23-1) its only defeat.

3. Saginaw Arthur Hill 53, Freeland 47 The Lumberjacks (17-5) earned one more matchup with rival Saginaw High in this week’s Regional by downing a Falcons team (20-4) that has been in the Division 2 conversation all season.

4. Detroit Cass Tech 61, Detroit Martin Luther King 59 (OT) This Division 1 District Final finished a season series that saw the Technicians win both matchups in overtime, the first by five points.

5. Cass City 51, Harbor Beach 48 The Red Hawks (23-1) clinched their Division 3 District title by avenging their lone loss, 56-43 to Harbor Beach (20-4) on Feb. 9.

Regionals at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:


Detroit Renaissance
North Farmington (19-2) vs. Birmingham Groves (13-11)
Detroit U-D Jesuit (18-5) vs. Warren De La Salle Collegiate (15-7)

A Catholic High School League Central team has reached the Division 1/Class A Semifinals five straight seasons (not counting COVID-canceled 2020), and while Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (playing at Milford this week) is the favorite to do that, the regular-season champion has not always ended up the last team playing. De La Salle and Jesuit split during the regular season, Jesuit winning the first time 64-55 and De La Salle the rematch 57-56. On the other side, North Farmington shared the Oakland Activities Association Red title and Groves finished fifth, the Raiders winning their matchups 65-42 and 57-49. North Farmington finished the regular season with the third-highest Division 1 MPR.

Cadillac (19-5) vs. Traverse City West (22-2)
Saginaw Heritage (20-3) vs. Muskegon (21-2)

Coming off two straight trips to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, Cadillac has been even better this season while now in Division 1. The Vikings’ only losses were to Whitehall and Wayne Memorial, and they won the Big North Conference outright thanks in part to 55-44 and 58-44 wins over second-place West. On the other side of the bracket might be one of the most anticipated matchups this week. Heritage won the Saginaw Valley League title as one of eight league teams with at least 13 wins heading into this week, and the Hawks are 14-1 over their last 15 games. Muskegon is the reigning Division 1 runner-up, shared the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green title and has a 10-game winning streak.

Ypsilanti Lincoln (18-6) vs. Wayne Memorial (17-6)
Ann Arbor Huron (19-4) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (15-8)

Lincoln may have cooled off a bit after a 12-2 start, but the Railsplitters have heated up again and defeated Southeastern Conference Red champion Saline 62-57 in last week’s District Final. Lincoln also owns a Dec. 16 win over Wayne, 56-47, although the Zebras also have been surging with 10 wins over their last 12 games. Huron tied for second in the SEC Red but owns a sweep of Lincoln and edged rival Ann Arbor Pioneer 59-57 last week to get here. The favorite might still be DCC, which finished 10th in statewide Division 1 MPR while tying for fifth in the CHSL Central. All but one of the Shamrocks’ losses came in league play, with the first to Dearborn, which finished 23-1.


Saginaw (15-9) vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill (17-5)
Shepherd (15-9) vs. Flint Powers Catholic (19-5)

Although the end of Saginaw and Arthur Hill’s 114-year rivalry was commemorated with their final regular-season matchup Feb. 16, there was always the anticipation they could meet one more time in the postseason. They’ll do so to open tonight’s Regional, with Arthur Hill having won that first matchup 84-52 but that potentially not indicating much as these rivals rev up for one last meeting. Arthur Hill was third in the SVL and Powers and Saginaw tied for fifth, with the Chargers defeating Arthur Hill 72-67 and falling to Saginaw High 66-56. Shepherd will do its best to break up the SVL reunion coming off two wins over Tri-Valley Conference teams in last week’s District.

Flat Rock
Detroit University Prep (15-8) vs. Romulus Summit Academy North (22-2)
Dundee (20-4) vs. Dearborn Heights Robichaud (19-4)

Summit is playing in a Regional for the fourth-straight season and seeking to advance to the final week for the third time during this run, this time with its losses by a combined four points to Riverview Gabriel Richard (20-3) and Detroit Old Redford (17-7). The Dragons won the Charter School Conference Gold championship thanks to an 85-58 win over runner-up University Prep on Jan. 22, but UPA has seen several more of the state’s top teams and defeated River Rouge among its best victories. Dundee opened this season 14-1 and is on a five-game winning streak that included claiming a second-straight District title. The Vikings are running into a Robichaud team that’s won nine straight games and the outright Western Wayne Athletic Conference title and is making its third-straight Regional appearance.

Benton Harbor (23-1) vs. Paw Paw (12-13)
Grand Rapids Christian (22-2) vs. Holland Christian (15-9)

Benton Harbor entered the postseason with the highest MPR in Division 2 and continued to back it up last week with a 60-42 win over Stevensville Lakeshore (13-10) and 58-48 clincher over Niles (19-6). Paw Paw has won five of its last six and will try to add to its upset last week of South Haven (15-7). Grand Rapids Christian was No. 4 in Division 2 MPR entering the postseason and defeated Grand Rapids South Christian (19-6) narrowly last week, 52-49, to advance. It would be easy to anticipate an Eagles/Tigers matchup in the Regional Final, but GRC surely isn’t looking past Holland Christian, which has won seven of its last eight games.

A pair of Holly defenders defend during their Division 1 District Final win over Davison.


Houghton Lake
Ithaca (16-8) vs. McBain (22-2)
Sanford Meridian (20-4) vs. Beal City (20-4)

Three 20-win teams at this Regional quickly grab the attention, and Ithaca like Beal City was a league runner-up this winter. McBain was first and the Aggies second in the Highland Conference, with McBain winning their matchups 60-43 and 72-48. Meridian was the champion of the Jack Pine Conference and didn’t see any of these three teams this season but has only one Division 3 loss, to Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2). Beal City and Ithaca did meet early, with the Aggies winning 74-68 on Dec. 19. The Meridian/Beal City matchup is a rematch of a 2023 District Final, won by the Mustangs 43-40.

Jackson Lumen Christi
Hanover-Horton (16-8) vs. Jackson Lumen Christi (20-4)
Chesaning (24-0) vs. Laingsburg (24-0)

All four of these teams were league champions, but the Tuesday headliner surely is the meeting of undefeated contenders. Chesaning is coming off its first District title in decades, and Laingsburg is seeking its second-straight Regional championship and is a combined 49-1 over its last 50 games. A pair of victories over P-W and a 72-65 edging of Freeland (20-4) remain the defining wins for the Wolfpack, while Chesaning has downed Saginaw Nouvel (19-5) and Durand (19-5) twice among others. Lumen Christi continues to build on its best season since at least 2014-15, with three of its four losses to teams that have won at least 20 games. Hanover-Horton also has made a nice jump returning to Regionals after missing the last two seasons while hovering near .500.

Union City (16-9) vs. Niles Brandywine (21-3)
Schoolcraft (21-3) vs. Watervliet (19-5)

Brandywine joins Benton Harbor (see above) in giving the five-team Lakeland Conference statewide contenders in both Divisions 2 and 3. The Bobcats reached the Semifinals a year ago and have a 64-53 win over Watervliet from Jan. 24. Watervliet and Schoolcraft were the outright champions in the Southwestern Athletic Conference – Schoolcraft in the Valley and Watervliet in the Lakeshore – and Schoolcraft won their Jan. 9 matchup 67-35. Union City finished fourth in the Big 8 Conference but has emerged with eight wins over its last 10 games as it continues to build up its first winning season since 2018-19.


Buckley (15-9) vs. Maple City Glen Lake (20-4)
Hillman (22-2) vs. Bellaire (20-4)

Hillman and Bellaire are both league champions, and Hillman has significant recent experience at this level making its third-straight Regional appearance and after reaching the Quarterfinals a year ago. The Tigers remain undefeated this calendar year, while Bellaire has been close winning 16 of its last 18 with the lone losses during that time by a combined three points both to Mancelona. On the other side are a pair of teams familiar with each other, as Glen Lake was second in the Northwest Conference and Buckley finished fourth. The Lakers won their matchups 55-36 and 68-48.

Petersburg Summerfield
Brighton Livingston Christian (18-5) vs. Detroit Douglass (19-5)
Britton Deerfield (18-6) vs. Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (20-4)

Douglass won the Detroit Public School League Gold on the way to its third District title over the last four seasons, and the Hurricanes have won 12 of their last 13 games with all of their defeats this season to Division 1 or 2 opponents. Livingston Christian has plenty to be glad about as well enjoying its first winning season since 2019-20 and with eight wins over its last nine games. On the other side are a pair coming off major District Final accomplishments. Deerfield was fourth in the Tri-County Conference but defeated league champion Adrian Lenawee Christian 63-59 after losing their matchup a month earlier by 50. Inter-City Baptist has won seven in a row and downed Taylor Trillium (22-2) in their District Final, 60-49.

Sault Ste. Marie (Regional Final only)
Munising (19-4) vs. Rudyard (18-6) at Manistique
St. Ignace (18-6) vs. Onaway (19-5) at Indian River Inland Lakes

The reigning Division 4 champion Mustangs have won 15 of their last 16 games with a 68-58 victory over Rudyard on Jan. 19 adding intrigue to tonight’s rematch. The Bulldogs have won 11 of 13 games since, a run that included a 73-72 victory over St. Ignace that completed a regular-season split as those two finished third and second, respectively, in the Straits Area Conference. Since navigating a rough patch of four losses over five games as January turned to February, the Saints have won six straight all by at least 20 points as they look to return to the Quarterfinals for the second-straight season. Onaway will be the first to try and stop them, entering with 10 wins over its last 11 games and the loss during that streak to Bellaire (see above).'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) Muskegon finishes a season sweep of Mona Shores with a 61-29 Division 1 District Final win. (Middle) A pair of Holly defenders defend during their Division 1 District Semifinal win over Davison. (Top photo by Tim Reilly; middle photo by Terry Lyons.)

E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 28, 2024

Ewen-Trout Creek graduate Jake Witt is playing for a spot on the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster. The memories of high school sports, and the impact they’ve had on his journey to the NFL, have stuck with him through his college days and even now as a professional.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 300-plus receiving yards he went for in a game against the eventual 8-player state champion back in 2017. 

The regular-season basketball game where 3,276 fans turned out to watch his Panthers play just a few months later.

The teamwork prep sports taught him. The family atmosphere he got to be a part of on the high school football team.

“Football was definitely the sport I felt the most family-type feeling with it,” Witt said earlier this week after fishing on Erickson Lake while back in the Upper Peninsula before training camp begins next month. “That’s what drew me back to wanting to play football in college, was my opportunity in high school to play and getting that feeling with the guys and that family-oriented feel.”

Witt played two years of high school football. He lined up exclusively at wide receiver for Ewen-Trout Creek as a junior and then was more of a blocking tight end when E-TC and Ontonagon joined forces as a co-op program when he was a senior.

He ultimately decided to play basketball first in college, at Michigan Tech. But two of his three finalists were football opportunities.

“Obviously playing basketball from second grade on, people would probably assume that I would want to play basketball in college,” Witt said. “I think that just goes to show that football in those two years had a big impact and obviously it led me to where I am when I played at Northern and where I am today.”

Witt played only one year of basketball at Tech. He transferred to Northern Michigan University to attend as a student only before being talked into playing football. 

He was initially a tight end there before moving to tackle because of injuries during a game against Ferris State. He dominated, not allowing a sack or even a quarterback pressure against what was considered the best Division II defensive line in the country. 

He stayed at tackle for what was left of that season and then all of his final year at Northern. Despite his limited time at the position, he had the attention of NFL scouts and entered the draft. The attention reached a fever pitch during his pro day at Central Michigan when he wowed with his athleticism. His 9.92 Relative Athletic Score, a way to measure players’ athletic testing while accounting for their size, was one of the best for an offensive tackle prospect since it began being used in 1987.

Witt, right, umpires a baseball game last summer.He was drafted with the 236th pick, in the seventh round, by the Colts in 2023. 

His first training camp was cut short due to a hip injury, and he was then placed on season-ending injured reserve. But he’s back healthy and ready to go. He practiced at second-string left tackle during the offseason camp this spring and now hopes to earn a spot on the 53-man roster with training camp set to begin in a month.

“I want to go into training camp, play well and then play well enough to where they can’t release me off the 53,” Witt said. “The next goal is to play in a game. And I think that will start with special teams, that will start with field goal. And then from there, obviously, everybody is one week of great practice away from playing with the offense, one injury away from playing in a game with the offense.”

Those who watched him during his high school days in the U.P. likely wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that happen.

Witt is still the only receiver to go for 300 or more receiving yards in 8-player football in state history, according to the MHSAA record book. And he did it twice, a 325-yard game against Eben Junction Superior Central as a junior and the 305-yard performance against Crystal Falls Forest Park as a senior.

The Ontonagon co-op team had mostly stuck to running the ball that season, but looked for Witt through the air against the eventual state champion Trojans.

“I think it was 345 (yards), I think they sent in the wrong number,” Witt said. “That was one game where we switched things up with our offensive attack and threw the ball a lot more, and it ended up paying off for us very well. We were down big at halftime, and we pushed back and we were in a battle with them in the second half. It was a great game. We didn’t end up winning, but it was a lot of fun.”

He enjoyed both years of high school football – even while mostly blocking on the line as a senior despite having shown previously to be a more-than-capable receiver.

Witt warms up during the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie camp in May 2023.“A lot of the offense wasn’t focused on me anymore, which was great,” Witt said. “It made me a much more well-rounded football player. It made me a much better athlete, it gave me a better perception on things as a football player versus just being a receiver. I think both years were great for different reasons.”

Witt said every sport he played in high school was beneficial to him going forward. Basketball, for example, taught him teamwork and coordination. 

“And just relationship building is huge; for me, it helped me move on to the professional football level,” he said.

No high school game was quite as memorable for him as that regular-season basketball game at Michigan Tech on a chilly Wednesday night in Houghton.

Ewen-Trout Creek and Dollar Bay were tied atop the U.P. small-school poll. With that type of matchup, and the chance for fans in the Copper Country to see the 6-7 Witt and his above-the-rim play that’s pretty unique in the U.P., the game was moved from Dollar Bay’s tiny gym to Michigan Tech. (He wasn’t quite 300 pounds like he is now, but he was close – and he came into that game averaging 27 points and 16 rebounds per game with no one able to match his size and strength.)

They expected a crowd; they got 3,276. The latest arriving fans had to sit on the floor on the baseline.

“You don’t see that very much in Division 4 basketball even in the playoffs,” Witt said. “Just having that atmosphere, and especially having it between two of the best U.P. teams at the time, and having the storyline that was behind the game was great – and one of the most memorable events to this day still for me.”

Witt is looking forward to the challenge of training camp and achieving his goals in Indianapolis. But he’s not rushing away a U.P. summer. 

He helped out at last week’s U.P. Football All-Star game. He was happy to provide insight for any players headed off to play college ball, and they helped the Marquette County Habitat for Humanity with the finishing touches on one of their houses.

Over the next month, he’ll still be training, going over the playbook and doing position skill work. As happy as he was to help out last week, he’s happy to be on the lake again, too, fishing like a normal Yooper.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do, that and train,” Witt said. “Just trying to destress before I get back into it.”

PHOTOS (Top) At left, Jake Witt played for Ewen-Trout Creek during a 2018 basketball game at Michigan Tech, and at right Witt takes a photo with area youth baseball players last summer. (Middle) Witt, right, umpires a baseball game last summer. (Below) Witt warms up during the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie camp in May 2023. (Photos by Jason Juno.)