Breslin Bound: Boys A-B Semis Preview

March 19, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Winning an MHSAA championship Saturday will be thrilling enough for whichever teams emerge from eight Class A and B semifinalists heading to the Breslin Center on Friday. 

But the two that finish this weekend as champions will be able to celebrate some additional historical significance. 

Four of those eight teams are seeking their first MHSAA title. The most recent championship among the four that have won before came way back in 1965. 

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. (See Class C and D previews and schedule in a separate post.)

Semifinals - Friday
Class A

Mount Pleasant (22-4) vs. Muskegon (26-0), 1 p.m.
Detroit U-D Jesuit (22-2) vs. Bloomfield Hills (23-3), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Benton Harbor (16-9) vs. Cadillac (19-6), 6 p.m.
Detroit Douglass (17-9) vs. Milan (23-3), 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 MHSAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit-PLUS. 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

23-3, No. 8
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Duane Graves, first season (23-3) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final (first season as a school). 
Best wins: 74-62, 73-57 and 53-52 (Regional Final) over honorable mention Clarkston, 67-60 over Class B No. 7 Milan.
Players to watch: Armand Cartwright, 6-2 sr. G; Yante Maten, 6-8 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Neither Bloomfield Hills Lahser nor Andover ever made it to a Quarterfinal, much less the final weekend of the season. But the school created when those two joined last summer has done so immediately under Graves, who coached Lahser before the merger. Cartwright scored his 1,000th career point this season. Maten is an absolute force in the post, and those two led Lahser to a District title last season as well.

Record/rank: 22-2, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Pat Donnelly, sixth season (90-43) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.   
Best wins: 54-53 (Quarterfinal) and 67-57 over No. 6 Romulus,52-51 over No. 10 Detroit Cass Tech in Regional Final, 47-45 over No. 7 Detroit Southeastern in Regional Semifinal, 59-32 over honorable mention Detroit Renaissance in District opener.
Players to watch: Cassius Winston, 6-1 soph. G (18.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 8.7 apg, 4.3 spg); Noah King, 6-4 sr. F (12.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
Outlook: Jesuit won its first Regional championship last week after losing during the regular season only to Catholic League rival Warren DeLaSalle and in overtime to Ohio’s Toledo St. John. The starting lineup includes four seniors along with leading scorer Winston, and sophomore guard Billy Thomas is the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.7 points per game off the bench.

Record/rank: 22-4, honorable mention
League finish: Tied for second in Saginaw Valley Association North
Coach: Dan Schell, second season (33-14) 
Championship history: Class B Lower Peninsula champion 1932, three runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 69-60 over No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 64-61 over honorable mention Flint Carman-Ainsworth in Regional Final, 64-54 over Cadillac.
Players to watch: Jaleel Hogan, 6-6 sr. F (16.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg); Aaron Leasher, 6-3 sr. G (11.2 ppg, 3.8 apg. 2.9 spg).
Outlook: The Oilers fell just one win shy of tying for the SVA North championship, but did return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1982 – and are seeking their first championship game berth since finishing runner-up in 1981. Hogan, who will play next season at the University of Detroit Mercy, is one of eight seniors who have helped the team improve 11 wins from last season.

Record/rank: 26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Black
Coach: Keith Guy, second season (45-7) 
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1937), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 88-78 over No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 65-50 over honorable mention Westland John Glenn, 68-59 over Class C No. 1 Mount Clemens, 73-55 over Benton Harbor.
Players to watch: Deshaun Thrower, 6-0 sr. G (18.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.0 apg, 3.0 spg); Deyonta Davis, 6-9 jr. F/C (14.2 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 7.0 bpg); Joeviair Kennedy, 6-3 jr. F (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
Outlook: Muskegon is back in the Semifinals for the first time since 1947 and has made this undefeated run with only four seniors. But one is Mr. Basketball and standout football quarterback Thrower, and Davis is likely the Mr. Basketball favorite for 2014-15. Guy formerly led Muskegon Heights to a number of successful seasons during the 2000s.  

Class B

Record/rank: 16-9, unranked
League finish: Tied for third in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Coach: Corey Sterling, second season (34-16) 
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1965), six runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 68-61 over No. 1 Wyoming Godwin Heights in Semifinal, 78-73 over T-No. 5 Otsego in Regional Final, 72-63 over Class A No. 9 Battle Creek Central.
Players to watch: Cortez Moore, 6-6 sr. F (21 ppg, 12 rpg, 4.0 apg, 4.0 spg, 3.0 bpg); Jaton Gunn, 6-2 soph. F/G (18 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: Given Benton Harbor’s strong hoops reputation, it’s hard to believe this is the team’s first Semifinal run since 1993. And it came with consecutive upsets of top-five teams, including handing Godwin Heights its only loss this winter. Sterling was a member of that 1993 Class A runner-up team playing for longtime coach Paul Wilhite. Sophomore point guard Curtis Dawson runs the show adding 11 points, seven assists and six steals per game.

Record/rank: 19-6, unranked
League finish: Tied for second in Big North Conference
Coach: Jeff McDonald, 20th season (322-131) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-49 OT over Big Rapids in Quarterfinal, 46-42 over Mason County Central in Regional Final, 55-52 over Escanaba in Regional Semifinal, 50-42 over Petoskey.
Players to watch: Jalen Brooks, 6-4 sr. F (17.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg); Justin Liptak, 6-5 sr. C (9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg).  
Outlook: Cadillac has won its last four games by six or fewer points to return to the Semifinals for the second straight season. A win Friday would give the Vikings at least 20 in four straight seasons, along with four straight District and Regionals titles. Junior guard Andrew Emington adds another 9.2 points per game from the backcourt.

Record/rank: 17-9, honorable mention
League finish: Third in Detroit Public School League East Division 1 
Coach: Nkwane Young, 10th season (154-72) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 41-39 over No. 10 Ferndale University in District Final, 69-56 over No. 9 Detroit Country Day in Regional Final, 48-45 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Southeastern, 49-46 and 62-26 over Class A honorable mention Detroit Renaissance.
Player to watch: Darrell Davis, 6-5 sr. G (24.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2.0 spg). 
Outlook: Douglass has taken the next step after winning its fifth straight District title and second Regional championship during that string. Davis, who will play at University of Dayton next season, was a Mr. Basketball finalist and plays both guard spots. He’s also one of seven seniors, with forward DeShawn Sanders and point guard Terrell Hales also starters.

Record/rank: 23-3, No. 7
League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Josh Tropea, fifth season (90-27) 
Championship history: Class C champion 1948.
Best wins: 62-53 over honorable mention Wayland in Quarterfinal, 55-40 over honorable mention Detroit Community in Regional Final, 42-40 (District Semifinal), 57-37 and 59-50 over honorable mention Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 57-54 over Class A No. 9 Battle Creek Central.
Players to watch: Latin Davis, 5-9 jr. G (15.9 ppg, 3.8 apg); Nick Perkins, 6-7 jr. F (15 ppg, 9.1 rpg).  
Outlook: Milan upped its winning streak to 18 by winning its first Quarterfinal appearance since 1948. The Big Reds lost to a couple of strong Class A schools in Saginaw and Bloomfield Hills during the regular season, which no doubt helped prepare for a competitive string of Class B opponents the last three weeks. The team has only three seniors, with 6-3 guard Donovan Verges adding 9.4 ppg. 

PHOTO: Detroit Douglass' Darrell Davis looks for an open teammate during Tuesday's Quarterfinal win over Goodrich. (Photo courtesy of Detroit Public School League.)

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)