Breslin Bound: Boys District Review

March 16, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

District week turned into rematch week during some of the most intriguing tournaments of the first round of this season's MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament.

See below for four champions in each class that stuck out, including a number that did so by beating one last time an opponent it had seen a few more over the course of this winter.

Class A

Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (20-3) – The Bengals added a District title to their Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold championship. Ottawa Hills won 59-56 in the Final over East Kentwood (21-1), the only team to beat reigning Class A champion Muskegon this season, and opened in the Semifinal with a 54-51 edging of Grand Rapids Christian (12-10).

Lansing Everett (21-2) – The Vikings advanced to Regionals for the first time since 2005 after ending the runs of some familiar opponents. Everett beat Capital Area Activities Conference Blue rival and runner-up Grand Ledge (20-3) in the Final, 57-51 – the teams split during the regular season as Everett won the league title. The Vikings beat Blue third-place finisher East Lansing (12-9) in the Semifinal, 59-39, and CAAC Red champion DeWitt (11-10) in the opener 50-43.

Traverse City West (18-5) – The Titans, runners-up in the Big North Conference, eliminated two league champions. They opened with a 58-54 win over Marquette (16-4), the Great Northern U.P. Conference winner, then beat rival Traverse City Central (5-16) in the Semifinal before eliminating Big North champion Alpena (19-3) in the Final, 66-63.

Walled Lake Central (18-5) – The Vikings tied Walled Lake Western (21-2) for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North title, but moved on to this week by edging Western 40-39 in the District Final. Central set up that opportunity by beating West Bloomfield (18-3) in the Semifinal, 54-52, and Walled Lake Northern (8-13) in the opener. 

Class B

Benton Harbor (17-6) – The Tigers again emerged from this strong group of Class B teams in the Lower Peninsula’s southwest corner. They opened with a 74-55 win over Coloma (7-14), then downed Wolverine Conference West champion Dowagiac (15-5) in the Semifinal, 78-74. Benton Harbor then defeated Buchanan (13-9) in the Final, 53-42.

Eaton Rapids (15-8) – The home of the reigning Class B girls champion can cheer on a boys run this time after the Greyhounds beat Jackson Northwest (13-8), Leslie (16-5) and then Olivet (11-11) to win their District title. Eaton Rapids won the last two games both by double digits.

Frankenmuth (18-4) – Remember the name Mario Whitley; the Eagles’ 6-foot-3 freshman guard had 28 points and 10 rebounds in a District Semifinal 63-52 win over Flint Northwestern (16-4). Frankenmuth’s veterans took over in a 48-44 victory over Caro (10-13) in the Final.

Yale (21-2) – The Bulldogs split the Blue Water Area Conference championship with Imlay City (19-4) and Richmond (16-5), and lost to the former twice during the regular season. But Yale beat Imlay City 59-43 in the District Final after downing Richmond 45-41 in the Semifinal and Armada (3-18) in the opener, 37-36.

Class C

Boyne City (18-5) – The Ramblers edged East Jordan by a game to win the Lake Michigan Conference title despite falling to East Jordan during the opening week in December. Boyne City put an end to their series this season with a 48-45 win over the Red Devils (17-6) in the District Final, after defeating Harbor Springs (2-19) in the Semifinal and Charlevoix (12-9) in the opener.

Hanover-Horton (21-1) – The Comets’ lone loss this season came to Jackson Lumen Christi, by 14, on Dec. 20. But Hanover-Horton got the win when it counted more, downing the Titans (19-3) in the Semifinal 63-61 before clinching the championship 54-47 over Vandercook Lake (17-6), which also finished runner-up to Hanover-Horton in the Cascades Conference race.

Hillsdale (22-0) – There generally aren’t a lot of 20-win teams facing against each other during the tournament’s first week, but Hillsdale emerged from such a matchup, 78-60 over Quincy (21-2) in their District Final. Hillsdale also beat Union City (17-5) in the Semifinal, 77-53.

North Muskegon (16-7) – The Norsemen have more than doubled last season’s seven wins, and moved on to Regionals with a 67-63 District Final win over annual power Muskegon Heights (13-6). North Muskegon also edged Western Michigan Christian (14-7) in the Semifinal, 54-52, and beat Ravenna (4-16) in the opener. 

Class D

Boyne Falls (20-2) – The Loggers have followed up losing to Bellaire in the 2013 District by beating the Eagles in the last two Finals – this time 48-41. Boyne Falls also won the Northern Lakes Conference championship, while Bellaire was the champ in the Ski Valley Conference. The Loggers advanced last week by beating league foe Ellsworth (11-10) by 15 in their Semifinal.

Covert (8-4) – The Bulldogs played an abbreviated regular-season schedule but didn’t look a step behind last week beating Lawrence (21-2) in the District Final, 60-59. Covert also beat St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (12-10) in the Semifinal and Michigan Lutheran (4-16) in the opener.

Frankfort (20-2) – The Northwest Conference-winning Panthers also had to take on another 20-win team last week, and bested West Michigan D League winner Onekama (20-2) in the District Final, 64-25. Frankfort advanced with a 71-53 win over Buckley in the Semifinal (11-11).

Kalamazoo Heritage Christian (10-12) – After winning only three games in 2013-14 and finishing this winter sub-.500 for the regular season, Heritage Christian was one of last week’s stunners beating Climax-Scotts (17-5) in the Semifinal 54-51 and then Martin (11-11) in the District Final, 45-39 in overtime. 

PHOTO: Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central advanced to this week's Regionals with a win over Grand Rapids Northview in their District Final. (Click to see more at

Harbor Light Building on Rock-Solid Foundation in Bringing Success to New Home

By Tom Spencer
Special for

March 1, 2024

A review of Harbor Light Christian’s boys basketball rosters over the last couple of decades would show a lot of familiar names.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThat would be especially true of the coaching slots.

Or are the players now coaches?

The coaches’ names are extremely familiar, and nothing much has changed – except some of the former players are now coaches, and the head coaches have returned to assist the program.

Today, the head coach is Jason Roussin. He’s in his 12th season at the helm of the Swordsmen. Jeff Jakeway, who was the head coach during Roussin’s junior and senior seasons at Harbor Light, is back on the Swordsmen’s staff as an assistant coach. Roussin is also assisted by long-time coach William Henagan and previous head coach Clark Hewitt.

Hewitt also serves as the Harbor Light junior varsity coach. The JV squad went 19-1 this season and 18-2 the year before.

“In 38 years, really there’s been three consistent coaches and then Pat Collins who had done one year when the program started, and now we’re all back on the sidelines working together,” Roussin said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

The facilities Collins, Hewitt and Jakeway coached in are nothing like the Swordsmen have today – the newly-built Solid Rock Center in Harbor Springs. In fact, they used to play on a cement floor. A year ago, the Swordsmen played their first game in their new home.  

A walk around the facility, five years in the making, provides the feeling of more like a small college program’s setup. Along with the new gym, the Solid Rock Center was equipped with a cafe and concession area, locker rooms, a film lounge and hangout area for the players, an upper-level full track around the gym, and three classrooms for art, music, science and more.

Jakeway served as project manager on the building — fully funded and debt-free through community support. He was the head coach of the Harbor Light girls basketball team when the facility opened.

David Chamberlin (22) elevates over a Pellston defender as the Swordsmen work toward a 75-20 victory Jan. 19.Harbor Light’s boys suffered a 76-74 loss to hot-shooting Pellston in the facility’s first game Jan. 20, 2023, but haven’t been doing much losing since. The Swordsmen started this season 2-2, and after a heart-breaking loss to Traverse City Christian on Dec. 8 went on to share the Northern Lights Conference title with Alanson and have built that record to 20-4 heading into tonight’s District Final against St. Ignace.

The title game will be played at the Solid Rock Center. Another Jakeway, Jeff Jakeway’s son and freshman point guard Landon, will be getting his second chance to lead the Swordsmen to a District championship. He was the point guard as a seventh grader when Harbor Light won the District title two years ago. (Small schools like Harbor Light may request, for most sports, an MHSAA Executive Committee waiver to play eighth-grade students if the school’s enrollment is less than 125 and seventh-graders if the enrollment is less than 75. Harbor Light’s enrollment count for this school year is 61.)

Landon Jakeway is the team’s leading scorer, contributing 15 points per game. He scored 25 to lead the Swordsmen to a 67-31 win over Mackinaw City in Wednesday’s District Semifinal. That was Harbor Light’s third win this season over its league rival, allowing the Swordsmen to keep the Mack Light Ball, which goes to the winning team’s school after each victory in the rivalry. Wins over Mackinaw have been hard to come by in previous seasons.

David Chamberlin, at 13 points per game, and Corin Palus, scoring nine per contest, are the other leading scorers. Jakeway adds seven assists and four steals per game. Chamberlin kicks in seven rebounds per game, and Jackson Mesner and Kirk Rose contribute eight and five rebounds, respectively. 

Chamberlin, Paulis, Mesner and Rose are all seniors.

“The team goal was really to ‘put the team before me’ mentality,” Roussin said. “We were going to work as a team, be loyal, be committed to one another and battle together.”

The Swordsmen also entered the season with their eyes on the Mack Light Ball, a conference championship and a long postseason run.

“We wanted to chase the conference and to battle for a District,” Roussin noted. “Obviously, we knew St. Ignace is in there and they are the favorite team.”

Senior leadership has been one of the keys to Harbor Light’s finishing atop the conference for the first time in more than a decade.

“We want to show up and play the best basketball you can to make your team the best they can,” Roussin said. “That’s what has been awesome with the leadership we’ve had on this team.

“Through all the guys is ‘it is not about me,’” Roussin continued. “It is about ‘what can I do to make the team better?’”

St. Ignace brings a 16-6 record into the Solid Rock Center. The Saints will have a chance to view some NBA history in addition to playing the final.

Above the main gym resides a mini court containing the Detroit Pistons floor from the Pontiac Silverdome. Before moving to The Palace of Auburn Hills, and most recently Little Caesars Arena, the Pistons played at the Silverdome from 1978-88.

Jeff Jakeway was able to get the court to Northern Michigan through connections in Novi.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Harbor Light’s Vaughn Henagan (23) gets to the basket during a 59-39 win over Kinross Maplewood Baptist on Dec. 21. (Middle) David Chamberlin (22) elevates over a Pellston defender as the Swordsmen work toward a 75-20 victory Jan. 19. (Photos by Billy Mac Photos.)