Breslin Bound: Boys Report Post-Break

January 5, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Schools have re-opened for 2015. But there’s plenty to review from the end of 2014 as boys basketball teams get ready for their familiar league schedules.

See below for four teams from each class that stuck out over the two-week break. And check out something new from Second Half – we’ll print by class each Monday a list of the undefeated teams left in Michigan and add in those with one and two losses as the season rolls on and the undefeateds are down to just a few. (Click for this week’s list.)

Class A

Ann Arbor Huron (6-1) – The River Rats opened this season with an 80-73 loss to Detroit Henry Ford, but haven’t fallen since; they won games as part of three events over the final two weeks of December, including big over Westland John Glenn (72-53) and Battle Creek Central (88-58).

East Kentwood (5-0) – The Falcons were on the verge last season, finishing 13-8 with five losses by six or fewer points; they’ve arrived this winter, if a 58-57 win over reigning Class A champion Muskegon at the Muskegon Sports Hall of Fame Tournament is an indication.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (6-0) – The Rangers are one of three Class A teams that has started 6-0, and they beat Grand Rapids Northview 59-55 to win the Gold division of the Cornerstone University Tournament; Forest Hills Central lost by four to Northview in the final last season.

Walled Lake Western (6-0) – The Warriors are another 6-0 fast starter and built their early run in part by winning the Livonia Franklin Holiday Invitational with a 66-60 win over one-loss Redford Thurston in the championship game.

Class B

Gladstone (3-0) – A 1-4 start kicked off an 8-12 finish for the Braves last season, but they’ve reversed directions this winter with Saturday’s 64-62 win over St. Ignace the most impressive of early victories.

Goodrich (5-0) – The Martians boys went a game farther than the school’s stellar girls program last season by reaching the MHSAA Quarterfinals and have made it 12 wins in their last 13 games including a solid 67-65 defeat of Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills on Dec. 30.

Imlay City (5-0) – The Spartans did a final tune-up before beginning defense of their shared Blue Water Area Conference championship by winning their invitational with a 36-34 victory over Marlette in the title game.

New Haven (4-0) – The Rockets' quick start has included wins close (60-57 over Harper Woods Chandler Park) and not so close (76-46 over one-loss Warren Michigan Collegiate to claim their Rocket Classic on Dec. 30).

Class C

Hillsdale (5-0) – The Hornets became one of three teams in Class C to open 5-0 by claiming the Pat Paterson/Williams Tournament at Jonesville with victories of 27 and then 62 points; no team has come closer than 12.

Millington (5-0) – The Cardinals’ first of two losses last season didn’t come until the regular-season finale, and they’ve looked similarly impressive early including putting up 101 points in a win over Reese before beating one-loss Vassar 61-45.

Warren Michigan Collegiate (6-1) – The New Haven loss aside, Michigan Collegiate is only two wins from equaling last season’s total and opened the New Haven Rocket Classic with an overtime victory over Mount Clemens.

Union City (5-0) – The Chargers also have made a quick turnaround from last season’s 8-14 run to open with five wins of 22 or more points this winter.

Class D

Akron-Fairgrove (4-0) – The reigning Michigan Summit League co-champion will begin league play Tuesday with a flawless record and three victories by 12 or more points.

Bark River-Harris (4-0) – The Broncos already have proven they can win close with a five-pointer over Rock Mid-Peninsula, a two-pointer over Big Bay de Noc and a five-point victory over Stephenson.

Mio (4-0) – The Thunderbolts look to be contenders in the new North Star League Big Dipper division with three league wins and all four so far by 15 or more points.

Waterford Our Lady (6-0) – The Lakers are the lone Class D team at 6-0 and have yet to allow an opponent closer than 13 points – Novi Franklin Road Christian and one-loss Harbor Beach were the only two to put up that challenge.

PHOTO: Laingsburg (in red) clamped the Pewamo-Westphalia offense in defeating the reigning Class C runner-up 42-34 on Dec. 18. (Click for more from 

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.