Breslin Bound: Boys C-D Semis Preview

March 19, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

One contender at Thursday’s MHSAA Class C and D Semifinals is hoping to finish this weekend with a third straight championship. Another is hoping to begin a three-season winning streak at the Breslin Center.

Two-time reigning Class D champion Southfield Christian returns four starters and a top sub from its 2013 title team. And Detroit Consortium is seeking its first championship – but led by sophomore Joshua Jackson, arguably the state’s top player regardless of class or grade.

Below is the schedule for all four Thursday Semifinals and four Saturday Finals, plus broadcast information and a look at all eight C and D semifinalists. (Class A and B previews and Friday’s schedule will be posted later Thursday.)

Semifinals - Thursday
Class C

Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2) vs. Muskegon Heights (20-3), 1 p.m.
Detroit Consortium (23-2) vs. Negaunee (24-1), 2:50 p.m.

Class D
Frankfort (20-6) vs. Southfield Christian (24-1), 6 p.m.
Cedarville (23-2) vs. Adrian Lenawee Christian (20-4), 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 C and D. 

Class C

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 2
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Tobias Tuomi, first season (23-2) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 67-61 over No. 1 Mount Clemens in Quarterfinal, 64-48 over No. 5 Detroit Allen in Regional Semifinal, 72-57 over Class A No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill, 58-43 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Southeastern, 79-72 over Class A No. 6 Romulus, 87-70 over Class B No. 9 Detroit Country Day, 67-52 over Class B honorable mention Detroit Douglass.
Players to watch: Joshua Jackson, 6-8 soph. G/F (25 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.9 spg, 3.7 bpg); Ronald Booth, 5-9 sr. G (12.1 ppg, 8.2 apg, 3.2 spg).
Outlook: Consortium has beaten a schedule loaded with top teams from Classes A, B and C, similar to how Johnson loads up a stat sheet in every category – he also had 30 3-pointers entering the week making 46 percent of those attempts and 70 percent from the field as a whole. Two more guards, senior Rudy Smith (9.7) and sophomore Luster Johnson (10.5), add to the potent offense.  

Record/rank: 20-3, No. 9
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Dalrecus Stewart, second season (39-8) 
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 1979) eight runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 59-57 over honorable mention Hillsdale in Quarterfinal, 72-59 over Saugatuck in District opener, 67-66 over Benton Harbor, 92-52 over Class D No. 7 Baldwin.
Players to watch: Eddrick Tornes, 6-1 sr. G (12 ppg); Aaron Sydnor, 6-3 sr. G/F (10.6 ppg).
Outlook: Muskegon Heights’ return to Breslin comes after it finished Class B runner-up in 2011, closed in spring 2012 and reopened that fall as a public school academy. The Tigers have one of the longest traditions of success in MHSAA history, with their first championship game appearance in 1939. Their losses this season are as notable as their best wins: by only one to No. 6 Shelby, just four to Class A Rockford and 12 to Class A Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills.

Record/rank: 22-2, No. 10
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Luke Pohl, 17th season (312-75) 
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1993.   
Best wins: 42-41 over Flint Beecher in Quarterfinal, 59-55 over No. 6 Shelby in Regional Final, 57-46 over honorable mention Hillsdale, 66-19 over Class D honorable mention Fulton.
Players to watch: Lane Smith, 6-5 sr. C (11.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Nick Spitzley, 6-2 sr. G (18.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Outlook: This run has been a career quest for a group of nine seniors, including five who start. The Pirates have won four straight league titles and Regional championships two of the last three seasons. Spitzley is a four-year standout and one of the top scorers in school history – he also had 61 3-pointers entering the week. As a team, P-W has shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor, with six players drilling at least 10 3-pointers. They are a combined five points from perfection, falling only to Detroit Loyola by two in the third game this season and Fulton by three before avenging with a 47-point win over the Pirates.

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Michael O’Donnell, ninth season (173-47) 
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recently 2000), two runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 63-42 over honorable mention East Jordan in Quarterfinal, 64-48 over Ishpeming in District Final, 61-55 over Class A honorable mention Marquette.
Players to watch: Tyler Jandron, 6-1 sr. G (17.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.3 spg); Eric Lori, 5-10 sr. G (16.6 ppg, 3.6 apg).
Outlook: Negaunee was played closer by a lot of its opponents compared to during last season’s run to the Breslin, but the results were the same. The Miners have rattled off 21 straight wins since falling to Marquette and beat the Redmen along the way. Jandron and Lori are back as the team’s top-two leading scorers and with junior Robert Loy make up a strong three-guard backcourt. Total the trio had combined for 92 3-pointers heading into this week.  

Class D

Record/rank: 20-4, honorable mention
League finish: Does not play in a league. 
Coach: Scott McKelvey, second season (39-8)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 56-51 OT over No. 5 Battle Creek St. Philip in Quarterfinal, 44-42 over Morenci in District Final, 46-44 over Class B honorable mention Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central. 
Player to watch: Grant Holbein, 6-2 sr. G (11.1 ppg).
Outlook: Lenawee Christian avenged its lone loss to a Class D team, Morenci, with a close win in the District Final, and has taken a few more steps after finishing 19-4 and as Regional runner-up in 2012-13. The Cougars’ other losses this season were to Class B No. 1 Jackson Lumen Christi, Class C No. 5 Detroit Allen and Class C honorable mention Addison.

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 6
League finish: First in Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference
Coach: Dave Duncan, 24th season (404-168) 
Championship history: Class D champion 2007, three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 60-53 over honorable mention Frankfort, 63-57 over No. 8 Hillman in Regional Final, 81-79 over No. 2 Powers North Central in Quarterfinal.
Player to watch: Joey Duncan, 6-0 jr. G (21 ppg).
Outlook: Cedarville is plenty familiar with the season’s final week having won Regional titles eight of the last nine seasons, but is back at the Semifinals for the first time since finishing Class D runner-up in 2009. Joey Duncan was named all-state Tuesday and leads a squad with only three seniors. The Trojans scored at least 80 points in 11 games.

Record/rank: 20-6, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Northwest Conference
Coach: Reggie Manville, third season (41-23) 
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 47-44 over honorable mention Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 75-71 over No. 7 Baldwin, 47-45 over Class C honorable mention Traverse City St. Francis.
Players to watch: David Loney, 6-3 jr. C (20.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg); Brandon Schaub, 5-10 sr. G (9.5 ppg, 2.3 apg).
Outlook: Frankfort played in its second straight Quarterfinal on Tuesday and advanced to its first Semifinal since 1969. The Panthers got that chance in part because they were able to get past Suttons Bay, which beat Frankfort twice during the regular season to finish on top of the Northwest Conference. Loney was named all-state Tuesday and keys an offense that is otherwise balanced, with six more players averaging 4-6 ppg. Manville formerly coached at Flint Southwestern for 14 seasons and then Big Rapids for one during the 1980s and 90s.

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Clennie Brundidge, first season (24-1) 
Championship history: MHSAA champion 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 61-44 over No. 4 Peck in Quarterfinal, 54-51, 68-56 and 67-62 (Regional Final) over No. 9 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, 75-62 and 66-47 over Auburn Hills Oakland Christian.
Players to watch: Bakari Evelyn, 6-1 jr. G (16 ppg, 4.6 apg); Lindsey Hunter IV, 5-10 sr. G (14.8 ppg); Damarco White, 6-6 sr. F (8.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Eugene Brown, 6-5 soph. G (11.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg).  
Outlook: Southfield Christian is playing for its third straight MHSAA title, this time under promoted assistant Brundidge – who also has coached at Southfield and Troy. Hunter and White were named all-state and Brown received an honorable mention, and Evelyn joined Brown, White and junior guard Kameron Garner among starters in last season’s Final. The only loss this winter came to Class A No. 5 Saginaw Arthur Hill. 

PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia's Nick Spitzley (right) matches up with Aquavius Burks during the Pirates' comeback win over reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher in Tuesday's Quarterfinal. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.) 

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.