Breslin Bound: Boys Quarterfinal Preview
March 20, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It's easy to enter this final week of the boys basketball season noting how many of last year's MHSAA champions are still around with possible repeats only three wins away.
That number is three, by the way: Detroit U-D Jesuit in Class A, Flint Beecher in Class C and Powers North Central in Class D. But isn't it more intriguing that 14 of 24 champions during this decade are still alive – and 14 of 18 in A, C and D, since no matter which team wins Class B, it will be for the first time since at least 1999.
The final Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – looks at all 16 Quarterfinals that will be played Tuesday evening. Click below for brackets:
Class A | Class B | Class C | Class D
All games tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted below. All also will be available with subscription for viewing on MHSAA.tv.
West Bloomfield (16-8) vs. Troy (21-4) at University of Detroit Mercy
This will be Troy’s first Quarterfinal since 1989 and West Bloomfield’s since 2003. The Lakers emerged after finishing third in an Oakland Activities Association Red that also included Clarkston (below) and 2016 Class A runner-up North Farmington. Senior guard Kevin McAdoo leads with 24.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Troy shared the OAA White title and is paced by junior guard Jason Dietz (17.2 ppg).
Clarkston (24-1) vs. Saginaw (21-4) at Davison, 7:30 p.m.
The Wolves won the OAA Red and are led by one of the winningest coaches in MHSAA history in Dan Fife (674-169 over 35 seasons) and one of the state’s top juniors in point guard Foster Loyer (25.1 ppg, 6.4 apg). Saginaw is a frequent qualifier at this stage, with this to be its third Quarterfinal in six seasons. Senior forward Henry Speight stars with 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists per game for the Saginaw Valley League North champion.
Kalamazoo Central (21-3) vs. Grand Rapids Christian (25-0) at Lansing Eastern
For the second straight game, Grand Rapids Christian will play in arguably the most anticipated statewide. The Eagles feature star forward Xavier Tillman (13.2 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 4.7 apg, 4.1 bpg), but Kalamazoo Central will counter with Mr. Basketball Award winner Isaiah Livers (17.5 ppg, 14 rpg) as it looks to avenge a 53-51 overtime loss to Christian on March 2. The Eagles downed previously-undefeated Muskegon and then needed a buzzer beater against Holland West Ottawa last week.
Romulus (20-4) vs. Detroit U-D Jesuit (20-3) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5 p.m.
Romulus is another regular during the final week, making its fifth Quarterfinal appearance this decade but first since 2014. Junior guard Kaevon Merriweather and senior forwards Dylan Price and Jaren English all average between 16 and 19 points per game. Reigning Class A champion U-D Jesuit has won 12 straight and again has a major post presence in 6-foot-9 Greg Eboigbodin (13.4 points, 13 rebounds per game).
Detroit Osborn (16-9) vs. New Haven (24-1) at Marysville
Osborn won its second Regional title and will play in a Quarterfinal for the first time since 2007 after finishing fourth in a Detroit Public School League East Division 1 that included Class A powers Detroit Martin Luther King and East English and Class C quarterfinalist Edison Public School Academy. New Haven is playing in a third straight Quarterfinal and seeking to advance for the first time. Senior Eric Williams (20.9 ppg) and sophomore Romeo Weems (18.1 ppg, 12.6 rpg) provide a powerful 1-2 punch.
Benton Harbor (21-3) vs. Spring Lake (19-6) at Caledonia
The Tigers won one of the state’s strongest Regionals to make the final week for the first time since 2014. Freshman 6-6 center Carlos Johnson leads four scoring in double figures at 14.2 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots per game. Spring Lake is making its second Quarterfinal appearance in three seasons and also second ever; the Lakers upset Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the Regional Final after finishing third behind the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue champion in their league.
Williamston (21-4) vs. River Rouge (23-1) at Chelsea
This is a rematch from 2016, with Williamston winning last season 53-46. The Hornets are one of the surprise teams still around this week, not because of lack of success but because they eliminated presumed Class B favorite Wyoming Godwin Heights in a Regional Semifinal for the second straight season. Williamston has won 10 of its last 12 games and three of its losses are to Class A schools. River Rouge owns win over Class A quarterfinalists West Bloomfield and Romulus and Class D quarterfinalist Southfield Christian.
Lake Fenton (20-5) vs. Ludington (23-2) at Mount Pleasant
Lake Fenton rolled into its first Quarterfinal after downing 20-win Freeland and 21-win Frankenmuth last week, but maybe those shouldn’t be considered upsets – the Blue Devils tied for second in the Genesee Area Conference Red behind only reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher. Senior forward Jalen Miller leads with 20.9 points per game. Ludington is in its first Quarterfinal since 2009 looking to advance for the first time since 1971. Senior guard Calvin Hackert leads the balanced Lakes 8 Activities Conference champion at 13.3 points per game.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (24-0) vs. Detroit Edison PSA (13-11) at Tecumseh, 6 p.m.
This will be Monroe St. Mary’s fourth Quarterfinal this decade – the Falcons have made the final week every odd year over the last seven, and advanced to the Semifinals in 2013. Senior 6-7 forward Nick Welch leads at 20.7 ppg, and he could face an interesting matchup with 6-8 Deante Johnson. Edison, as noted above, came from the same PSL division at Osborn and lost four of its last five regular-season games – but then upset expected contender Cornerstone Health & Technology in the Regional Final. DEPSA did earn regular-season rematch wins over Detroit King and East English after losing first games to both, and split with Osborn as well.
Flint Beecher (20-5) vs. Beaverton (20-5) at Bay City Central
Beecher has won two straight Class C titles and played in nine straight Quarterfinals, and is led again by standout Malik Ellison (23.8 ppg). The Buccaneers’ only losses since mid-January were to Class A Ypsilanti Community by two and Class B quarterfinalist New Haven in overtime. Beaverton has enjoyed a history-making winter as coach Roy Johnston took over the MHSAA lead for career wins, and the Beavers have bounced back from a four-game losing streak in early February to make their first Quarterfinal since 2013. Johnston's grandson Carter leads with 23.7 ppg.
Kalamazoo Christian (18-7) vs. Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (19-5) at Holland West Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
This is another matchup of schools advancing for the first time in at least a little while; Covenant Christian won its first Regional since 1994 in Class D, and Kalamazoo Christian advanced to this week for the first time since 2008. Senior guard Alex Visser and junior forward Jordan Katje both score 11 points per game to lead Kalamazoo Christian, while junior forward Carson Meulenberg paces Covenant at 13.4 ppg.
Manton (20-4) vs. Negaunee (20-4) at Petoskey
Manton has its best record in at least 11 seasons to go along with its first Regional title since 1998. Three players have made at least 48 3-pointers this season, paced by leading scorer Jayden Perry (16 ppg) with 53. In addition to upsetting formerly undefeated McBain in the District, Manton has a win over Beaverton. Negaunee is another frequent quarterfinalist, this being its fifth time in the final week this decade. The Miners hope to take the next step for the third time of this run led by big-time scorers Dre’ Tuominen (20.4 ppg) and Trent Bell (19.7), who both make more than 50 percent of their shots from the field.
Hillman (24-1) vs. Powers North Central (25-0) at Sault Ste. Marie
These two met in a 2015 Quarterfinal, two games before North Central claimed its first Class D title of this recent run, and they meet again with the Jets two wins from a third straight and carrying the nation’s longest active winning streak of 80 victories. Jason Whitens (22.6 ppg) and Dawson Bilski (19.7) have starred throughout the run and are part of a talented senior class finishing things up. But Hillman has an excellent senior as well in Gunnar Libby, who leads his team with 19.1 points and 5.5 assists per game.
Southfield Christian (20-5) vs. Fowler (17-7) at Imlay City, 7:30 p.m.
After two seasons – and two District titles – in Class C, Southfield Christian is back in Class D and seeking its fourth title this decade. Two of its losses were to quarterfinalists U-D Jesuit and River Rouge, and it beat West Bloomfield. Junior guard Bryce Washington leads four averaging in double figures with 18.5 ppg. Fowler is back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since finishing off five straight appearances in 2005, and it owns a win this season over Lansing Christian. Senior 6-7 center Jeremy Pung is a force, averaging 18 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Benton Harbor Dream Academy (11-7) vs. Lansing Christian (18-6) at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Dream Academy has won 10 of its last 12 games, avenging its loss to St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic during that run with an overtime win over the Lakers in the District Final. Lansing Christian last made a Quarterfinal (and then Semifinal) in 2013, and after losing three of its final four regular-season games has bounced back with four double-digit wins in the playoffs. Seniors Matt Havey and Preston Granger average 17.9 and 15.4 ppg, respectively, for the Pilgrims.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (16-8) vs. Buckley (24-0) at Cadillac
Tri-Unity is back in the Quarterfinals for the third straight season and fifth this decade, seeking its first championship since 2011. Four seniors start for a balanced attack; forward Braydon Sherrod and guard Collin Rosendall top the scoring at 10.2 and 10.9 ppg, respectively. Buckley has twice made Quarterfinals, in 1998 and 2010, and is looking to advance for the first time. Junior Denver Cade scores a team-high 21 ppg for a group that’s won all but two games this season by double digits – with a victory over Class C quarterfinalist Manton one of the two by fewer than 10 points.
PHOTO: Spring Lake's Cameron Ball (24) lays up a shot this season against Grand Haven. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers
By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
No 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.
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.
“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 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.)