Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys Report Week 12

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 19, 2024

This past week certainly earned its place in the greater narrative of the 2023-24 Michigan high school boys basketball season. We always say every team and every game has a story, and the weekend especially left us with a few we'll be talking about for a while. 

MI Student AidBut we also have so much to look forward to over this final week of the regular season, with plenty of local championship races finishing up and District pairings now posted – check all of those out on the Brackets page. 

“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. Detroit Cass Tech 72, Detroit Renaissance 70 This has been one of the most competitive elite matchups statewide this season, as Cass Tech (19-1) claimed the Detroit Public School League Tournament title by following up on its 88-85 double-overtime win over the Phoenix (15-5) from Jan. 12.

2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 58, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 55 The Eaglets (19-1) held on for a third win this season over Brother Rice (15-6) and this one for the Catholic High School League Bishop title. 

3. Saginaw Arthur Hill 84, Saginaw 52 An outside chance remains they could meet in a Division 2 Regional Semifinal, but for now Arthur Hill (14-4) ended this 114-year rivalry on top. 

4. Niles Brandywine 63, Benton Harbor 57 After losing their first meeting by 13, the Bobcats (17-3) handed Benton Harbor (20-1) its only loss to create a shared championship in the Lakeland Conference.

5. Laingsburg 72, Freeland 65 The Wolfpack (21-0) made the loudest statement of a season full of them in downing an expected Division 2 contender in Freeland (18-2). 

Detroit Cass Tech takes on Detroit Renaissance in the PSL Tournament final at Wayne State.

Watch List

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


Detroit Cass Tech (19-1) The reigning Division 1 champion hasn’t slowed down, clinching the PSL Blue and Tournament titles and showing an ability to win big or pull out close victories while seeing teams from all over the Lower Peninsula. The Technicians’ only loss was to Zeeland West (14-6) a month ago, but they’ve also piled up wins over Chelsea (14-5), Renaissance (15-5) twice, Detroit Martin Luther King (14-6), Southeastern (14-7) and Douglass (14-5), and Kalamazoo Central (10-7) among 11 wins total over opponents with double-digit wins. And now comes the biggest matchup of all – Saturday’s Operation Friendship matchup with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. 

Marquette (18-3) The team can finish an outright Greater Northern Conference championship Thursday against second-place Kingsford and already have a 71-69 win over the Flivvers (16-3) and two over Menominee (15-5) among 13 victories total over opponents with 10 or more wins this winter. The three losses came in consecutive games over a 10-day stretch in December, and Marquette has avenged defeats to Negaunee and Ishpeming Westwood over the last three weeks, building a 15-game winning streak and surpassing last season’s total over 13 along the way. 


Grand Rapids Catholic Central (14-4) A 1-3 December may have turned out to be excellent prep for a 13-1 run over the last two months, as the Cougars have lost only to Lima (Ohio) in 2024 and earned 12 wins during this run by 12 points or more. The early losses came to Grand Rapids Northview (15-4), Grand Rapids Christian (18-2) and Davison (14-4), but GRCC opened the new year with a 57-54 win over South Christian (15-5) and can clinch the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold title outright Tuesday against Ottawa Hills. The Cougars finished a regular-season sweep of the second-place Sailors on Feb. 2 and would see them again only if they met in a Division 2 Quarterfinal. 

Saginaw Arthur Hill (14-4) As noted above, this is Arthur Hill’s final season as it will consolidate with Saginaw High this summer. But the Lumberjacks are finishing things off memorably. They are tied for second in the Saginaw Valley League, a half-game back of Heritage after falling to the Hawks earlier this month. But they followed up that defeat with wins over Mount Pleasant and Saginaw High, to go with earlier notable victories over Frankenmuth (15-5) and Detroit Edison (11-7). Arthur Hill sees Bay City Central and Davison this week and has guaranteed its final season will be a winning one after going 10-14 a year ago. 


Napoleon (18-3) The Pirates tied with Michigan Center for the Cascades Conference East championship but then won the overall league title with a 63-41 win over West champ Hanover-Horton on Saturday. Napoleon did split its meetings with Michigan Center this season, losing 50-38 on Dec. 21 before winning the rematch 50-44 on Jan 25, but the only other defeats also came before the new year to Jackson (12-8) and Parma Western (15-5). The Pirates have won 13 straight, also defeating Hanover-Horton (14-8) at the start of January and Jonesville (15-6) along the way, and could see Michigan Center again if both reach next week’s District Final at East Jackson. 

North Muskegon (21-0) The Norsemen have gone from 10 to 15 to 19 top 21 wins over the last four seasons and have had to turn away only a few close challenges to remain undefeated with a game to play this regular season. North Muskegon defeated Montague 47-45 on Jan. 31 but have had only four more single-digit games. A 57-38 win over White Cloud (16-4) two weeks ago has been among highlights, and they’re lined up opposite each other at next week’s District at Hesperia. The Norseman also earned a notable 65-47 victory Jan. 30 over Muskegon Oakridge (14-6) and got a boost by downing Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (13-8) on Feb. 9, 62-54.


Hillman (18-2) The Tigers are another team undefeated in 2024, with 13 straight wins since falling to Division 2 Ogemaw Heights to finish their December slate. Hillman also lost early to Division 1 Gaylord, but has shined against schools closer in size and dominated in winning the North Star League Little Dipper championship and also downing eventual Big Dipper champ Alcona (16-5). The Tigers just missed making the Breslin Center a year ago, falling to Frankfort 59-57 in a Division 4 Quarterfinal, and will try to line up for another run finishing the regular season against Division 3 Oscoda (15-5) after defeating the Owls 57-56 in overtime in December. 

Norway (15-5) The Knights are two wins from potentially winning the Skyline Central Conference Large school division outright, which would be an especially notable accomplishment as reigning Division 4 champion Munising (16-4) trails by only half a game. Norway earned the advantage with a 49-48 win over the Mustangs in the season opener Nov. 28, and the two would meet again if they both win Regional titles. The Knights have only one loss to a Division 4 opponent, against Crystal Falls Forest Park (16-3) on Jan. 4, and the other defeats came twice to Division 2 Escanaba and once to Division 3 Iron Mountain (19-1) and Division 2 Kingsford (16-3).

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Ann Arbor Huron (16-3) at Saline (16-4) – These two are tied for first in the Southeastern Conference White, and the winner claims the outright league title. Huron won the first meeting 65-52 on Jan. 26.

Tuesday – Mancelona (16-4) at Bellaire (17-3) – Bellaire is assured of a share of the Ski Valley Conference championship, but Mancelona could force a co-championship after losing the first meeting Jan. 16 by just a point, 50-49.

Thursday – Flint Powers Catholic (16-3) at Saginaw Heritage (15-3) – A Chargers win could create a four-way tie atop the Saginaw Valley League with one conference game to play, or Heritage could enter this matchup in line to lock up a share of the title if it also defeats Lapeer on Tuesday.

Friday – Dearborn (20-0) vs. Canton (17-3) at Northville – The champions of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association’s East and West, respectively, will meet for the overall league title.

Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (19-1) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (19-1) at University of Detroit Mercy – The annual Operation Friendship matchup of PSL and CHSL champions also matches the reigning Division 1 champion and the top team in Division 1 MPR this winter, respectively.'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) Saginaw Arthur Hill and Saginaw High play for perhaps the final time in their 114-year rivalry Friday at Dow Event Center. (Middle) Detroit Cass Tech takes on Detroit Renaissance in the PSL Tournament final at Wayne State. (Top photo by Kolleth Photo; middle photo by Olivia B. Photography.)

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.)