Breslin Bound: Boys Districts in Review

March 11, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Two weeks remain in the MHSAA boys basketball season. And after last week's District tournaments, some contenders have survived what may end up their scariest game of a championship run – while others remain alive that probably many didn't expect. 

Below are four District champs from each class who especially stuck out last week. 

Class A

Bloomfield Hills Lahser (17-6) – The Oakland Activities Association Blue co-champ claimed a District title as well with a 55-52 win over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in last week’s championship game.

Detroit Pershing (23-0) – The Doughboys had beaten Detroit Cass Tech by 19 in the Detroit Public School League tournament final only three weeks before, but had to survive a 78-76 thriller in the rematch for the District title.

Saginaw (21-3) – The reigning Class A champion is still alive after winning perhaps the biggest game in the state Friday. The Trojans, who split with rival Saginaw Arthur Hill during the regular season, won the tie-breaker 86-76 in the District Final.

Ypsilanti (18-4) – Avenged a nine-point loss to Ann Arbor Pioneer from only a month ago by beating Pioneer 66-43 in the opener, and then eliminated Skyline and Huron en route to a sweep of the Phoenix’s Class A neighbors.

Class B

Bay City John Glenn (12-11) – The Bobcats lost twice to Standish-Sterling during the regular season, including by 18 on Feb. 22. But they avenged those losses in the District opener and then edged Essexville-Garber 51-50 in overtime to win the title.

Flint Powers Catholic (12-11) – A 3-8 start to this season wasn't pretty, and although Powers battled back it still entered last week with a sub-.500 record. But two and three-point wins over Flint Northwestern and Millington, respectively, kept the Chargers alive and put them on the plus side.

Saginaw Swan Valley (12-11) – The Vikings were 2-6 over the last eight games heading into the District tournament. But their 56-37 win over then 14-7 Bridgeport in the Final was at least a slight upset.

Sparta (17-5) – The Spartans finished a solid second in the O-K Blue this winter and then survived a 61-59 test against Fremont in last week’s championship game to move on.

Class C

Baldwin (18-4) – Came close twice to beating West Michigan D League champion Manistee Catholic Central, but fell once by three in overtime and in their second meeting by eight. That surely made a 38-35 District Final win over MCC that much better.

Harbor Beach (22-1) – Coming off the football MHSAA championship in the fall, the Pirates just keep cruising with only a loss to Marlette momentarily stopping them this winter. Harbor Beach outlasted Unionville-Sebewaing 61-60 in the District Final.

Montrose (18-5) – The Rams finished only third in the Genesee Area Conference Blue, but beat formerly 17-5 Reese 67-52 in the District championship game.

White Pigeon (14-8) – It’s amazing how much of a difference six weeks can make. White Pigeon lost to Cassopolis by 30 on Jan. 18, but won the rematch by 15 in the District opener and survived Decatur 44-41 in the championship game.

Class D

Bloomfield Hills Roeper (8-14) – Roeper closed the regular season with a 1-8 run, so it was tough to expect a District title. But the Roughriders prevailed by beating then 12-8 Waterford Our Lady 51-44 in the championship game.

Covert (16-6) – The Bulldogs are hardly strangers to Breslin Center, and like the teams that had success in the past this Covert team took its losses against much larger opponents this season. Back in Class D, it won three games by a total of 40 points last week.

Fowler (13-9) – The Eagles finished three wins behind Fulton for fourth place in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference. But after being swept by the Pirates during the regular season, Fowler won the most significant matchup of the three, 65-53 in the District Final.

Hillman (16-5) – The Tigers have improved from 12 to 13 to 16 wins over the last three seasons and won last week’s games by a combined 31 points. 

PHOTO: Detroit Pershing players celebrate last week's Class A District Final win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)

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.