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.
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.
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.
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.
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 HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 29, 2023
The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.
After 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, 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 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.)