Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys Report Post-Break

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 8, 2024

Another action-filled holiday break is behind us, and it’s full speed ahead over the next seven weeks as the 2023-24 run to Breslin Center nears the halfway point for Michigan’s high school boys basketball teams.

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This is always the time as well that we begin turning our attention to the Michigan Power Ratings, used each winter to seed the top two teams in each District bracket based on results against other MHSAA Tournament opponents during the regular season.

Those lists, showing all teams together, separately by division or broken down even further by District, can be found on the MPR page. A “snapshot in time” look of the top 20 in each division will be provided every Monday on the Boys Basketball Rankings page.

Read on for some of the most notable action from the break and a look at what’s coming up during the week to come. Rankings noted above and reports below all are based on schedules and results reported to “Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid.

Week in Review

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

1. East Kentwood 47, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 42 The Falcons (4-2) already were a team to watch this season again, and expectations no doubt grew with this win over Rice (8-2) at the Mike Turner Classic at Albion College.

2. Detroit Catholic Central 80, Davison 65 The Shamrocks (7-2) are making their bid to be the best in the Catholic High School League Central and followed up a 55-53 win over Brother Rice last week with this one over the Cardinals (5-3) at the Grand Blanc Showcase.

3. East Lansing 60, Detroit Martin Luther King 41 The Trojans (8-0) earned perhaps their most impressive win of a strong start over the Crusaders (8-3) at the PSL Holiday Classic at Cass Tech.

4. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 56, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 52 On the way to winning the Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament Blue title, FHC (8-1) handed Tri-unity (8-1) what remains its lone loss of the winter.

5. Big Rapids 52, Traverse City St. Francis 51 (OT) The Cardinals (7-2) opened the new year by getting past the reigning Division 3 runner-up Gladiators (4-3) in overtime.

Iron Mountain's Oskar Kangas goes up for a shot while being defended by Ishpeming Westwood's Edward Anderson during the Mountaineers’ 67-43 win Friday.  

Watch List

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


North Farmington (8-0) Off a 22-2 finish a year ago, North Farmington is riding another notable start that’s included only one single-digit win – 66-57 over Zeeland West at Northville’s Winter Shootout. The Raiders opened the season with 58-46 victory over King, and a 17-pointer over Clarkston and 15-pointer over West Bloomfield also are among results jumping off the page.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (7-1) A late rush last season ended with a trip to the Division 1 Semifinals, and St. Mary’s picked right back up to start this winter with its only loss to Detroit U-D Jesuit on Dec. 18; they meet again Jan. 19. The Eaglets bounced back from that defeat with wins over Flint Beecher, Detroit University Prep, Warren Lincoln and Warren De La Salle Collegiate.


Flint Powers Catholic (8-1) After finishing 16-8 last season, Powers is halfway to equaling that win total with five of these early victories over teams with winning records including 92-65 over Fenton and 72-67 over Saginaw Arthur Hill on Friday to start the Saginaw Valley League schedule. The lone loss came to Division 1 power De La Salle at the Motor City Roundball Classic, and Arthur Hill is the only other opponent to come within 13 points of catching the Chargers.

Warren Lincoln (6-1) As noted above, Lincoln lost to St. Mary’s, 65-58, at the Roundball Classic. That remains the Abes’ lone defeat as they’ve downed West Bloomfield, Port Huron Northern and Grosse Pointe South among others – the latter two show up among the top 20 in Division 1 MPR as of today. The schedule is filled with several more high-level matchups as Lincoln looks to build on last season’s 19-5 finish.


Menominee (8-1) The Maroons finished last season 14-11 overall but with an 8-2 run, and they’ve exceeded that to start this season with their lone loss to the Milwaukee School of Languages. A 67-58 win over St. Ignace on Dec. 8 was especially strong, and Menominee opened the Great Northern Conference schedule with a 70-59 win over reigning runner-up Escanaba as the Maroons look to bounce back from finishing fourth in 2023.

Niles Brandywine (8-1) A 57-55 loss to Riverview Gabriel Richard at the Roundball Classic is all that’s kept Brandywine from a perfect start after finishing last season in the Division 3 Semifinals. Bridgman last week is the only other opponent to give Brandywine a single-digit game, as the Bobcats prevailed 55-46. And the game to circle is Friday’s, as Brandywine heads to Benton Harbor – more on that below.


Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (9-1) The Irish have bounced back from an early loss to Wyoming Tri-unity Christian with eight consecutive victories all by at least 12 points. Seven of those wins were against opponents that are above .500 or would be without the loss from Sacred Heart, and the Irish are atop the Mid-State Activities Conference in part because of a 59-39 win over second-place Fulton.

St. Ignace (5-2) That loss to Menominee (see above) and another to Division 2 Detroit Voyageur at the Roundball Classic haven’t kept the Saints from an early No. 3 ranking in Division 4 MPR. Wins over Harbor Springs and Boyne City have helped feed that rise, and Tuesday’s first of two matchups this season with undefeated Pickford should be telling as well.

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Detroit Catholic Central (7-2) at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (7-1) – These Catholic League Central rivals are Nos. 2 and 1, respectively, in Division 1 MPR this week, and DCC won both matchups last winter.

Tuesday – Ann Arbor Pioneer (6-0) at Ypsilanti Lincoln (8-1) – This is the first of two matchups between two of the early leaders in the Southeastern Conference Red.

Friday – Grand Rapids Christian (7-0) at Grand Rapids Northview (5-0) – The early leaders in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White face off for the first time after Northview swept last season’s series.

Friday – Niles Brandywine (8-1) at Benton Harbor (9-0) – This is the first of two Lakeland Conference matchups between these two, and Benton Harbor handed Brandywine its only two losses before Breslin Center last season.

Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (7-0) vs. Davison (5-3) at Ferndale – The night after a likely tough league matchup with Detroit Renaissance, Cass Tech plays in arguably the most intriguing of the Horatio Williams MLK Freedom Classic.'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) Braylon Isom gets to the basket for Saginaw Heritage during the Hawks’ 73-66 win over Chelsea on Dec. 29 at the Motor City Roundball Classic. (Middle) Iron Mountain's Oskar Kangas goes up for a shot while being defended by Ishpeming Westwood's Edward Anderson during the Mountaineers’ 67-43 win Friday. (Photos by Terry Lyons and Cara Kamps, respectively.)

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.)