Breslin Bound: Boys Quarterfinal Preview

March 23, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

At the end of the week, four teams will finish the 2014-15 MHSAA boys basketball seasons with championship victories. 

And of 32 left in the tournament, 23 have a chance to end on a title-clinching win for the first time. 

That's just something to keep in mind as Quarterfinals are played Tuesday all over the state. In addition, the reigning MHSAA boys basketball champions in Class A and Class B are alive for repeats, three more 2013-14 semifinalists have a chance to book return trips to Finals weekend, and all three Mr. Basketball finalists will play, two literally against each other.

See below for a glance at all 16 Quarterfinals. All tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted, with winners advancing to Thursday and Friday's Semifinals at Michigan State University. 

Class A

Lansing Everett (23-2) vs. Muskegon (23-1) at Lansing Eastern's Don Johnson Fieldhouse

This looks like a battle of the state’s elite post players and Mr. Basketball candidates; reigning Class A champion Muskegon with 6-foot-10 Michigan State recruit and Mr. Basketball Deyonta Davis (18.6 points, 15.4 rebounds, 6.7 blocks per game) and Everett with 6-9 Oregon recruit Trevor Manuel (23.5 ppg, 11 rpg, 6.0 bpg). But with those two battling, the other eight on the floor could decide which team moves on – watch for Muskegon 6-5 senior forward Joeviair Kennedy and 6-3 Everett junior guard Jamyrin Jackson.    

Walled Lake Central (20-5) vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill (22-3) at Grand Blanc

Guard Eric Davis, headed to Texas next season, finished runner-up for Mr. Basketball and leads an Arthur Hill team on a 10-game winning streak since falling to Detroit U-D Jesuit on Feb. 7. The Lumberjacks have played three teams still alive so they won't be surprised by much this week, and they've won all of their postseason games by double digits. Walled Lake Central is playing its first Quarterfinal since 1993 after emerging from one of Class A’s strongest Districts. Junior guard Walter Kelser leads, scoring 18 points per game.

Detroit U-D Jesuit (21-3) vs. Clarkston (24-0) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5:30 p.m.

U-D Jesuit is seeking a return to the Semifinals after advancing for the first time ever last season, and is led again by talented junior guard Cassius Winston (22.4 points, 5.7 assists per game). Clarkston is seeking its first Semifinal appearance since 2009, playing in its first Quarterfinal since that same season. The Wolves also are keyed by a standout guard – freshman Foster Loyer, who scored 30 and 35 points, respectively, during last week’s Regional.

Ypsilanti Community (19-4) vs. Detroit Western International (23-0), 7 p.m.

This is Community’s first Quarterfinal as a new school, although coach Steve Brooks led the former Ypsilanti High to the final week in 2013 as well. The Grizzlies won the Southeastern Conference White and advanced by defeating another league champion, Romulus, in the Regional Final. Western is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 1974 and has had only two games in single digits this winter – with wins over U-D Jesuit and Arthur Hill among their most impressive. Junior guard Brailen Neely scores 15.9 points per game to lead three averaging double digits. 

Class B

Otsego (22-3) vs. Milan (23-2) at Marshall, 6:30 p.m.

Milan returns three starters from last season’s Class B championship game, including leading scorers Latin Davis (19.9 ppg) at guard and Nick Perkins (16.8) at center. Its only losses this winter were to Class A U-D Jesuit and Romulus, and it has won 16 straight. Otsego has won more than 20 games for the third time in four seasons under coach Josh Holmes and will play in its first Quarterfinal since 1984. Senior 7-foot center Seth Dugan (19 ppg, 13 rpg) might be one of the most daunting matchups left in the tournament.  

Wyoming Godwin Heights (23-1) vs. Spring Lake (18-7) at Rockford

Godwin Heights is back in a Quarterfinal for the third straight season and 12th time dating to its first appearance in 1929. The Wolverines have beaten three teams still playing this week – including Otsego – and their only loss was to Class C quarterfinalist NorthPointe Christian. Senior 6-5 guard Delaney Blaylock leads with 16.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Spring Lake won its third straight District title earlier this month and now will play in the Quarterfinals for the first time in its history. Junior 6-3 center Keegan George leads the Lakers in scoring at 14.4 ppg.

Essexville Garber (21-4) vs. Cadillac (17-8) at Mount Pleasant

Garber emerged from third in the Tri-Valley Conference East to reach its first Quarterfinal after beating 22-win Goodrich in the Regional Final. Senior 6-4 forward C.J. Glaza leads three scoring in double digits, averaging 16.1 points while grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game. Cadillac got off to a 5-6 start on the way to its fifth straight Quarterfinal, although seven of its losses this season were to Class A teams. The Vikings have advanced to the Semifinals the last two years. Guard Andrew Emington (12.8 ppg) leads a balanced offense and is one of eight seniors.

Detroit Henry Ford (19-5) vs. New Haven (25-0) at Marysville

Henry Ford has gone from 10 to 11 to 19 wins over the last three seasons and has a pair of potent scorers in senior small forward Joshua Davis (17 ppg) and junior point guard James Towns (16.5 ppg). The Trojans will be playing in their first Quarterfinal since 1984. New Haven made the Quarterfinals in 2012 but in two trips has never advanced to the final weekend of the season. Senior 6-6 forward Joshua Harris averages 20.5 points per game and has been key during the perfect run, which included a 22-point win over 21-win Yale in the Regional Semifinal.

Class C

McBain (22-2) vs. Boyne City (20-5) at Gaylord

McBain is back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 but fourth time in seven seasons. Sophomore 6-6 center Craig Sterk leads four scoring in double digits, averaging 16.5 points per game while grabbing 8.8 rebounds per. Boyne City is headed to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1990 and after winning a competitive Lake Michigan Conference. Senior forward Corey Redman is the leading scorer at 16.4 ppg.

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (19-5) vs. Shelby (23-1) at Zeeland East

NorthPointe Christian rebounded from three losses over its final four regular-season games and will play its second Quarterfinal and first since 2007. Senior guard Preston Huckaby scores 15 points per game to lead four averaging in double digits for the only team to beat Class B contender Godwin Heights this winter. Shelby suffered only one loss, by three to Muskegon Heights in the regular-season finale. But the Tigers beat eventual Class B quarterfinalist Spring Lake by 22 the week before, and eliminated 21-win Laingsburg in the Regional Final.

Hanover-Horton (23-1) vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (22-3) at Ann Arbor Huron

Hanover-Horton has won 20 or more games 10 times and made five Quarterfinals under 17-season coach Chad Mortimer, and is seeking its first Semifinal berth since 2003. Senior guard Stefan Young averages 13.2 ppg as the lead scorer. St. Mary joins Class B’s Milan from the Huron League and will play in its third Quarterfinal in five seasons, hoping for its second Semifinal berth and led by a pair of standout scorers – senior guard Bryce Windham averages 20.4 ppg and junior forward Stephan Umfress adds 18.6.

Millington (19-5) vs. Flint Beecher (23-1) at Burton Bendle

Millington finished second in the TVC East that produced Class B quarterfinalist Essexville Garber, and the Cardinals are seeking their first Semifinal berth. They’re led by a talented backcourt of junior point guard Shawn Pardee (25.6 ppg) and senior shooting guard Austin LeVan (20.9). Beecher, meanwhile, is playing in its eighth straight Quarterfinal and seeking to return to the Semifinals after missing last season for the first time since 2009. Senior guard Cedric Moten leads three averaging double-digit points at 15.1 ppg. 

Class D

Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (14-10) vs. Morenci (22-2) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix

Tri-unity Christian has navigated a tough schedule to return to the Quarterfinals for the third time in five years. Three players average nine points or more per game, led by senior 6-8 center Chris Osantowski at 11 ppg. Morenci has played only one Quarterfinal – in 1954 in Class C – but improved steadily from eight to 13 to 22 wins over the last three seasons and has won its last seven games by 12 or more points. Senior guard Austin Sandusky runs the show, averaging 14.1 points and four assists per game.  

Waterford Our Lady (24-0) vs. Genesee Christian (17-6) at West Bloomfield

Our Lady will play in its first Quarterfinal since 1993. The team is a combined 41-6 in two seasons under coach Paul Robak and led by a pair for sharp-shooting 6-4 guards – senior Nick Robak averages 23.6 points per game and has made 63 3-pointers, and junior Andrew Kline averages 13.2 points and 6.6 assists per game and has 42 treys. Genesee Christian has played in one other Quarterfinal, in 2006. The Soldiers should be ready for another tough opponent after facing a number of larger schools this season playing as an independent. Seniors Travis Rose and Logan Mowry key a productive frontcourt; Rose averages 14.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.9 steals per game, with Mowry at 14.8 points and 7.2 rpg.    

Fulton (20-4) vs. Frankfort (22-2) at Cadillac

Fulton is back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since finishing Class D runner-up in 2011, and similar to that season can cause damage from behind the 3-point arc. The Pirates have made 209 3-pointers, with junior guard Colton Antes drilling 74 and senior Gregg Jones, the team’s leading scorer (16.9 ppg), connecting on another 54. Frankfort is playing in its third straight Quarterfinal and is led by the standout from last season’s Semifinal run. Senior 6-3 center David Loney sets the pace at 18.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Northwest Conference champ.

Hillman (23-1) vs. Powers North Central (24-0) at Sault Ste. Marie

Hillman has won at least 21 games the last two seasons and three of the last seven, but will play in its first Quarterfinal having lost this season only to Cedarville in the opener Dec. 9. Three players combine to average 50 points per game, led by senior guard Mason VanPamel at 25 ppg. Powers North Central will play in its third straight Quarterfinal and again is a high-powered scoring force – the Jets have put up at least 80 points seven times and more than 70 in 15 games. Sophomore guard Jason Whitens leads four averaging 9.9 ppg or more with 16.4.

PHOTO: Detroit Henry Ford guard James Towns, here against Detroit East English earlier this season, has played a big part in his team’s first Quarterfinal run since 1984. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers

By Tom Kendra
Special for

June 7, 2023

Walter “Stretch” Hansen and Harold Tate were good friends and high school basketball and baseball teammates at Hart High School, graduating in 1943.

West MichiganNo one could have guessed that less than two months after graduation (on July 2, 1943), the two friends would head to Fort Custer in Battle Creek, the first stop on their way overseas to fight for their country in World War II.

No one could have imagined how many twists and turns their lives would take over the next 80 years – from the battlefields in the South Pacific, then back to West Michigan where they both were married with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now Harold even has a great-great-grandchild.

And, certainly, no one would have believed that the two young boys from Hart – who forged a friendship through high school sports long before the days of computers, microwave ovens and cell phones – would still be alive at the age of 98 for an emotional reunion last month, on May 22, seeing each other for the first time in 80 years and, to cap it off, the reunion took place in their hometown of Hart.

“It was such a great day,” Hansen said about the meeting, which was set up by Muskegon-area World War II historian Richard Mullally.

“We picked right up, talking about sports and the service and everything else.”

The conversation came easy for the two old friends, who played for Hart during a “golden era” at the school – particularly in basketball, as the Pirates won 11 West Michigan Conference basketball titles between 1940 and 1954.

Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. Perhaps the best team during that time period was Hansen and Tate’s as seniors in 1943. That team lost only once, to rival Scottville (31-25), but more than made up for it with an 80-10 trouncing of the Spartans in the final regular-season game.

Hart then crushed Scottville and Newaygo to win the District championship, only to have Michigan’s prep basketball season stopped abruptly at that point because of World War II.

That 1943 team featured four starters over 6-0, led by the duo of Hansen and Stan Kapulak (both 6-6), Joe Mack (6-2), Lyle Burmeister (6-1) and Stanley Riley (the lone starter under 6-foot at 5-11).

“The newspapers called us ‘The Hart Skyscrapers,’” said Hansen, who will be 99 on Nov. 6. “We were taller than most college teams at that time.”

Hansen and Tate’s friendship continued to blossom on the baseball field, only to have their lives turned upside down shortly after graduation 80 years ago, when all Hart senior boys who had been drafted headed to Battle Creek as a brief staging area on their way to the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.

Hansen served in the Army Specialized Training Program and was part of the 52nd Signal Battalion and the 4025th Signal Battalion in the Pacific Theater.

“I had an all-expense paid tour of the South Pacific,” Hansen said with a chuckle. “The Philippines, New Guinea, Okinawa, Hawaii, all over the place.”

Tate did his service in the 24th Infantry Division and the 19th Infantry Regiment, and was stationed in Japan.

During their visit last month, Harold showed off the Japanese Samurai sword and Arisaka rifle which he had sent back from Japan to Hart. The week after their visit, both took part in Memorial Day parades – Hansen in the Lakeside parade in Muskegon and Tate in his 77th Memorial Day service in Hart.

Hansen, who still has a home on a small lake in Holton and lives at a senior care facility in Muskegon, played many years of semi-pro basketball and did some coaching. He worked at GTE and has five children and 10 grandchildren.

Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II.“I have been so blessed,” Hansen said, sorting through one of his many scrapbooks. “All five of my kids are great and I have grandkids that are just amazing, everything they are doing. I don’t even know all of their names, but it’s sure been fun watching them.”

Tate returned to Hart after his military service and has been there ever since, at first working as a carpenter with his father and then becoming a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring 26 years ago at the age of 72. He has lived in the same home for 75 years and has three children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandkids and now one great-great-grandchild.

Tate laments the demise of his beloved American Legion post in Hart, a town with just over 2,000 residents, as the number of members has steadily declined.

One topic that brings a smile to both of their faces is the recent resurgence of the Hart High School athletic program, which drew media attention not too many years ago for all the wrong reasons – notably a football program which went 24 years without a winning record.

That string was snapped with a 6-3 mark and the school’s first earned playoff appearance last fall.

But that was just the start.

This winter, Hart’s boys basketball team finished the regular season 22-0, the girls basketball team made it to the Division 3 Semifinals at the Breslin Center, wrestling qualified for the Team Finals for the fourth-straight year and competitive cheer placed fourth in Division 4. This spring, the Hart girls track & field team won its second-straight Division 3 Finals team title, and the boys placed fourth.

“It’s a great place to call home, a great place to live, always has been,” said Hansen of his hometown, which got its name from its central position in the “heart” of Oceana County.

And who would have imagined that these two high school teammates could still come home again for a reunion at the age of 98?

Tom KendraTom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Members of the 1943 Hart High School varsity baseball team gather together, preparing for a team photo. Among those are Harold Gayle Tate (far left) and Walter "Stretch" Hansen, at 6-6 the tallest player in the back row. (Middle) Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. (Below) Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. (Top photo courtesy of Stretch Hansen. Middle and below photos courtesy of Richard Mullally.)