Breslin Bound: Boys A-B Semis Preview

March 20, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Some semi-ancient history is at risk of being updated during the Class A and B Finals this weekend at Michigan State University's Breslin Center. 

Detroit Southeastern is seeking is first title since 1926 and Grand Rapids Christian since 1938. Wyoming Godwin Heights will play for its first championship game berth since 1960, but also as one of three Class B Semifinalists looking to win it all for the first time. 

Standing in the way? In Class A, it's reigning champion Saginaw and heavy favorite Romulus. In Class B, one of the state's most successful programs ever, Detroit Country Day. 

Below is the schedule for all four Friday Semifinals and Saturday Finals, plus broadcast information and a look at all eight A and B Semifinalists. 

Semifinals - Friiday
Class A
Romulus (25-1) vs Grand Rapids Christian (20-6), 1 p.m. 
Detroit Southeastern (20-5) vs Saginaw (23-3), 2:50 p.m. 

Class B
Cadillac (21-4) vs Detroit Country Day (23-3), 6 p.m. 
Detroit Community (17-9) vs Wyoming Godwin Heights (23-2), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6:30 pm
Class C - 4:30 pm 
Class D - 10 am 

Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on and available on a pay-per-view basis for $3.95 per day or $6.95 for the weekend. Saturday's first three Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, with the Class B game on Fox Sports Plus and then re-broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit at 10:30 p.m.. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

And now, a look at the Semifinalists in Class A and B. 

Class A

Record/rank: 20-5, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Detroit Public School League East
Coach: George Ward, fourth season (82-15)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 1926), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 54-49 (OT) over honorable mention Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (Regional Final), 54-49 over Rochester (Quarterfinal), 71-52 over Class B No. 4 Harper Woods Chandler Park, 48-44 over Class B No. 10 Detroit Douglass.
Players to watch: Jovone Haynes, 6-0 sr. G; Kenyatta Singleton, 6-0 sr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Although Southeastern’s championships came in 1925 and 1926, they finished Class A runner-up only two seasons ago and with Singleton a prominent player off the bench. That Southeastern was likely the third-best Detroit PSL team during the regular season speaks to the league’s strength again this winter, and the Jungaleers lost to reigning Class A champion Saginaw and No. 8 Detroit Cass Tech by one point apiece and Ann Arbor Pioneer and River Rouge by only two each.

Record/rank: 20-6, honorable mention
League finish: First in O-K White
Coach: Steve Majerle, first season (20-6)
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class B champion 1938, one runner-up finish.  
Best wins: 72-69 over No. 9 East Kentwood (District Semifinal), 64-61 over honorable mention Lansing Waverly (Regional Semifinal), 78-70 over honorable mention Holt (Regional Final), 64-61 over Muskegon, 70-59 over Class B No. 6 Wyoming Godwin Heights.
Players to watch: Drake Harris, 6-4 jr. G; Wuoi Mach, 6-4 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Grand Rapids Christian has been surging with 10 straight wins and avenged a previous 24-point loss by beating Muskegon in the Quarterfinal. Harris is the catalyst and will try to add a basketball championship to the football title in which he played a large role at the end of November. Majerle previously coached Rockford to the 2003 Class A championship.

Record/rank: 25-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Nate Oats, 11th season (220-52)
Championship history: Class A champion 1986, one runner-up finish. 
Best wins: 93-91 over No. 1 Detroit Pershing (Quarterfinal), 82-71 over No. 4 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 93-63 over No. 6 Saginaw, 75-65 over Class B No. 1 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: E.C. Matthews, 6-4 sr. G (16.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Leonardo Edwards, 6-8 sr. C (11 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.1 bpg), Wes Clark, 6-0 sr. G (11.8 ppg, 5.7 apg).
Outlook: Throw in wins over Lansing Sexton, Detroit Community, Detroit Douglass, Detroit Consortium, Chicago Seton and Indianapolis Cathedral, and no team in Michigan has defeated as impressive a slate. The Eagles’ lone loss was to Pershing by six in their second game this season, and Romulus avenged that Tuesday. Senior forward Jalon Plummer (11.2 ppg, 47 3-pointers) also adds double-digit scoring. Matthews has signed with Rhode Island, Clark with Missouri and Edwards with Louisiana Tech.

Record/rank: 23-3, No. 6
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley Association North
Coach: Julian Taylor, second season (48-5)
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recently 2012), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 75-64 and 86-76 (District Final) over No. 4 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 57-56 over honorable mention Detroit Southeastern, 86-61 over Class B No. 4 Harper Woods Chandler Park.
Players to watch: Julian Henderson, 6-2 sr. G; Keyon Addison, 6-1 jr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: The Trojans have won three of the last six Class A championships, and Henderson was the second-leading scorer in last season’s title game win over Rockford. Saginaw already avenged its early loss to Arthur Hill, and no doubt would like to face Romulus again after falling to the Eagles in the regular-season finale. 

Class B

Record/rank: 21-4, unranked
League finish: Tied for first in Big North Conference
Coach: Jeff McDonald, 19th season (303-124)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 41-29 over No. 8 Big Rapids (Semifinal), 47-46 over Petoskey, 56-53 over Traverse City West.
Players to watch: Nick Paquet, 5-9 sr. G (15 ppg, 45 3-pointers); Jalen Brooks, 6-4 jr. F (12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Outlook: Cadillac is 63-11 over the last three seasons with Regional championships to cap off each. The Vikings also won a share of their league title this season by avenging early losses against other sharers Petoskey and Traverse City West. They have good size, with five players 6-4 or taller, and plenty of balance; four more join Paquet and Brooks to average between four and seven points per game.

Record/rank: 17-9, unranked
League finish: Second in Michigan Metro Athletic Conference
Coach: Venias Jordan, Jr., first season (17-9)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 50-47 over honorable mention Jackson Lumen Christi (Quarterfinal), 61-48 over Class C No. 8 Melvindale Academy for Business & Technology,
Player to watch: Byron Zeigler, 6-6 sr. F (statistics not submitted).
Outlook: Don’t be fooled by Community’s nine losses. Instead, consider some of the teams they came against: Class A top-10 teams Detroit Pershing (by two), Cass Tech and Romulus, honorable mention Detroit Southeastern, ranked Class C Detroit Consortium and reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian, among others. Zeigler has signed with South Florida.

Record/rank: 23-3, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Kurt Keener, 35th season (676-180)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA titles (most recently 2010), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 75-57 over No. 4 Harper Woods Chandler Park (Regional Semifinal), 73-51 over No. 10 Detroit Douglass (Regional Final), 68-48 over Class A honorable mention Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, 86-61 over Class A No. 4 Saginaw Arthur Hill.
Players to watch: Edmond Sumner, 6-3 jr. G (16.1 ppg, 6.2 apg); Austin Price, 6-3 sr. G (12.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 63 3-pointers, 3.2 spg); Mory Diane, 6-2 sr. G (12.1 ppg).
Outlook: A few fun Country Day facts: The last time the Yellowjackets didn’t make it to Breslin was 2009; the last time they finished a season with fewer than 20 wins was 2004. Country Day starts out small (relatively speaking; no player is shorter than 5-11) but can get big with future Texas Tech offensive lineman Poet Thomas (6-7, 285 pounds) off the bench. Price has signed with Lehigh and makes nearly 40 percent of his 3-point shots.

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 6
League finish: First in O-K Silver
Coach: Chad Conklin, sixth season (98-39)
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recently 1960).
Best wins: 79-72 over No. 7 Comstock Park (Regional Semifinal), 56-52 over No. 2 Stevensville Lakeshore (Quarterfinal), 60-58 over Class D No. 1 Wyoming Tri-unity Christian
Players to watch: Jamal Bland, 5-10 sr. G (14.9 ppg, 3.2 apg); Quantrell Hastings, 6-1 sr. F (15.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Outlook: One more win and Godwin Heights will have improved on or tied the previous season’s win total in all six of Conklin’s winters running the program. Senior guard Braima Hai (10.9 ppg, 5.2 apg) runs the show, and sophomore guard Delaney Blaylock (11.2 ppg) also scores in double figures. 

PHOTO: Saginaw junior Joseph Williams-Powell (44) drives against a Midland defender during the Trojans' Regional Semifinal win last week. (Click to see more at

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.