Breslin Bound: Boys Report Post-Break
January 4, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We knew plenty of favorites to watch when boys basketball season tipped off during the second week of December.
But we were able to add a few more to the list of hopefuls after another eventful holiday break.
Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention. Results and records below are based on schedules posted at MHSAA.com.
Belleville (3-1) – Keep an eye on the emerging Tigers, who opened with a loss to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore but started the holiday break with a 13-point win over Oak Park and finished it with a 62-59 win over annual contender Saginaw at the Motor City Roundball Classic.
Hudsonville (6-0) – The Eagles made a statement with a 77-69 win over reigning Class B champion Wyoming Godwin Heights during the first week, but backed it up with a Cornerstone Holiday Tournament win over Grand Rapids Christian, 68-55.
Northville (6-0) – A sweep of Walled Lake Northern and Bloomfield Hills gave Northville the championship at its own invitational last week and a chance to start the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central schedule undefeated.
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (5-0) – The Cougars topped off 2015 with a 27-point win over Davison at the Roundball Classic and hope to at least duplicate last season’s 9-1 start.
Detroit Henry Ford (3-2) – Last season’s Class B runner-up stumbled at first with losses to North Farmington and Detroit Edison Public School Academy, but had a big break with wins over Lowell (72-66), Farmington (73-53) and then Chicago Hyde Park (75-73) at the Roundball Classic.
Frankenmuth (4-0) – Two of the Eagles’ wins have come in overtime, but both were key – 67-62 in double overtime over league rival Bridgeport, and then 63-59 in a single extra period over Class A Bloomfield Hills in the Roundball Classic.
Hillsdale (5-0) – The Hornets have won 44 straight regular-season games including a sweep at the Jonesville Invitational at the start of the break; Lenawee County Athletic Association contender Onsted will look to break the streak Friday.
New Haven (3-1) – The Rockets’ lone loss was to Class A Detroit East English, and they came back to beat Mount Clemens by 26 and St. Clair Shores South Lake by 15 to claim the championship of their home tournament.
Detroit Edison Public School Academy (5-1) – The Pioneers are looking like they’ll factor into the Class C title race with success so far against a strong group of Class A and B teams, including a 68-55 win over Lansing Everett and a 70-61 victory over Detroit Henry Ford.
Flint Hamady (4-0) – Three teams in the Genesee Area Conference Blue remain undefeated as we start 2016, but reigning champion Hamady looks like the one to chase again with three double-digit league wins followed by a 70-68 nail-biter over Windsor Catholic Central at the Roundball Classic.
Negaunee (6-0) – The Miners are looking good to build on last season’s 18-4 finish and have already beaten two of the opponents – Escanaba and Marquette – they lost to last season; Negaunee has put up more than 80 points twice, including 92 in a win last week.
North Muskegon (3-1) – After opening 1-4 last season but finishing 16-8, North Muskegon is starting out stronger with its only loss to Class B Muskegon Oakridge and nice local wins over Muskegon Catholic Central and Muskegon Western Michigan Christian.
Climax-Scotts (4-1) – The Panthers are off to a quick start in the Southern Central Athletic Association West, with four double-digit wins including three over league opponents; the only loss came last week to a homeschoolers team.
Lansing Christian (2-2) – Put the Pilgrims’ start in perspective; the losses were to Class B Olivet and Leslie, which are a combined 6-3, and the wins were over Class C Carson City-Crystal and frequently-strong Class D Fowler.
Novi Franklin Road Christian (4-2) – A 2-6 start turned into a 9-13 finish last season, but Franklin Road added wins over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and Waterford Our Lady to a solid start this time.
Pittsford (4-0) – The Wildcats boys are matching their elite girls team so far, thanks in part to a 65-61 double-overtime win over Sand Creek at the start of the break; Pittsford's boys finished 12-9 a year ago.
PHOTO: Northville, here during a 70-61 win over Westland John Glenn on Dec. 15, are 6-0 this season. (Click for more photos from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now 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.)