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