Breslin Bound: Boys Report Post-Break

January 3, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This week, Michigan’s high school boys basketball teams will begin focusing most of their energies on winning league championships and doing their best against competition closest to home.

But before we dive in to that always-intense chapter of each season, our Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – reviews the best from two weeks of holiday break, including matchups of some expected MHSAA title contenders in Class A and B.

Week in Review

The countdown of holiday break's five most intriguing results:

1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 69, Macomb Dakota 61 – Dakota was missing a standout and lost another near the end of this one, but regardless this rematch of last season’s Class A Semifinal finished with the Cubs on top while sandwiched between their overtime losses to Flint Beecher and Indianapolis Lawrence North (Ind.).

2. North Farmington 53, Detroit Henry Ford 49 – The Raiders bounced back from three losses to open this season, including a 65-58 defeat to Farmington, to beat Dearborn Divine Child and then the Class B reigning champ at the Motor City Roundball Classic.

3. McBain 73, Boyne City 62 – In a matchup of expected Class C contenders from the northern Lower Peninsula, McBain emerged with a fourth double-digit win in four tries this winter while handing Boyne City its first loss.

4. Wyoming Godwin Heights 69, Wayland 67 – They are in different Districts this season after meeting in the first round a year ago, and both could emerge as Class B contenders after meeting in this Cornerstone Invitational title game.  

5. Frankfort 72, Traverse City St. Francis 65 – The Panthers avenged one of only two regular-season losses from last season, when they fell to St. Francis 69-68.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:


Detroit East English (5-0) – The Bulldogs may have graduated a Mr. Basketball finalist off last season’s 17-win team, but they likely have another and could finish even better this winter with wins so far over Flint Beecher, Macomb Dakota and most recently Wayne Memorial 92-77.

Battle Creek Central (5-1) – That lone loss came early to Kalamazoo Central, and Battle Creek Central has stormed back with the latest a sweep at its holiday tournament, 60-50 over Otsego and 61-46 over Muskegon Heights Academy.


St. Clair (5-0) – The Saints, winners of 12 and 14 games, respectively, over the last two seasons, downed St. Clair Shores Lakeview 54-53 in overtime and then host Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 58-57 at the latter’s holiday tournament to finish off 2016.

Wyoming Lee (5-0) – A 3-17 finisher just last season, Lee is in the midst of a sizable turnaround highlighted over the break by wins over Gobles (in overtime) and host Allegan to win the Tigers’ holiday tournament.


Harbor Springs (3-0) – After also going only 3-17 a year ago, Harbor Springs has equaled that win total while handing the only losses this season to Bellaire (40-37) and Pickford (67-65).

Michigan Center (6-0) – The Cardinals will embark next on at least matching last season’s shared title in the Cascades Conference, and will do so after dominating Williamston’s holiday event with wins over Dansville (66-47) and Class A DeWitt (86-75).


Bark River-Harris (4-0) – Eventually, the Broncos will get to test themselves against Powers North Central (Jan. 27) in the Skyline Central Conference West. So far, they look good to top last season’s 10-11 finish.  

Frankfort (3-0) – Expectations are high as always coming off a second straight Northwest Conference title and fourth straight season with 20 or more wins – and so far so good; see note above on avenging last season’s loss to Traverse City St. Francis.

Can't-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Clarkston (5-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (6-0) – The Wolves have earned a reputation as Class A contender with another strong start, and Carman-Ainsworth could cement that status as well with a win.

Tuesday – Maple City Glen Lake (3-0) at Elk Rapids (5-0) – In addition to both being undefeated this week, Glen Lake beat Elk Rapids twice last season including in the District.

Friday – Beaverton (4-1) at Clare (3-1) – Although both have a loss, both also are undefeated in early Jack Pine Conference play; Beaverton’s only defeat was in its last game, to Class A Midland Dow by two.

Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (4-2) at Romulus (2-1) – Another week, another impressive foe lined up for reigning Class A champion Jesuit; Romulus’ lone loss was by six to Clarkston.

Friday – Holt (3-2) at Okemos (3-1) – This longtime rivalry means something again, as both are seeking to rise in a Capital Area Activities Conference Blue that also features East Lansing, Lansing Everett and Jackson.

PHOTO: Muskegon pushes the ball upcourt during a 68-45 win over East Kentwood during the Muskegon Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 28 at Reeths-Puffer High School. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times

By Tom Spencer
Special for

March 17, 2023

Shawn Bramer and Dylan Barnowski, as middle schoolers, attended the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals every year.

Northern Lower PeninsulaLast year, they nearly played in the Division 3 title game – falling in a Semifinal but almost making a dream come true for the then-juniors and their Lake Leelanau St. Mary coach, Matt Barnowski, also Dylan’s father.

That dream began for some when the boys were coached by Matt as third graders, and they made serious strides last season. Before last winter, the last time the Eagles had won a Regional championship was 1950 – and no St. Mary boys basketball team had reached the Semifinals. Bramer and Dylan Barnowski – along with current seniors Jack Glynn, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar – had high hopes of making more history this winter.

The dream ended Wednesday night with a Regional Final loss to Frankfort, which St. Mary had defeated 54-41 during the regular season. This time, the Eagles were faced with a large number of K-12 students succumbing to illness – with all five of its starters at least somewhat sick – as nearly a third of the school’s tiny enrollment was out of school the day after the loss to the Panthers.

But you won’t hear any of the players or coaches making excuses. They give all the credit to Frankfort, and they’re ready to move on. And many in the LSM family know reaching the Regional Finals this season and Breslin Center in 2022 had absolutely no probability had Bramer and Barnowski not made an iron-clad agreement last summer. 

Eagles coach Matt Barnowski coaches up his team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick.The two friends vowed to help each other despite their personal, opposing challenges.

Barnowski and Bramer, through LSM’s cooperative agreement with Suttons Bay, went 3-for-3 playing in 8-Player Division 1 Football Finals during their first three years of high school. But through last summer Barnowski, who quarterbacked the Norseman, had no interest in football.  

Bramer, meanwhile, had been nursing a quad tendon injury since his sophomore football season and battling two bad knees but was thinking he could suffer though football and sit out the basketball season to recover. The all-state running back experienced training difficulties and even had his strength training severely hampered.

Football was king for Bramer, and he also loved basketball too. Basketball is number one to Barnowski. The longtime friends decided cut a deal to help each other — and their teammates — out.

“I was kind of on the edge,” said Bramer, who plays with braces on both knees. “After talking to each other, we both ended up just playing. 

“I really shouldn’t be playing sports, but I couldn’t miss out playing with my friends,” he continued. “We just figured it was our last season so we might as well just do it.”

Dylan Barnowski and Brammer also teamed up during successful football careers. Barnowski had been considering ending his football days immediately after the Norse fell short in their third-straight trip to the Finals, at Superior Dome in Marquette in Fall 2021. That loss was at the hands of Adrian Lenawee Christian 31-20.

The Norseman graduated most of their offensive and defense lines last spring and expected to be small in numbers. Until this fall, they had lost only one regular-season game on their way to three straight title game appearances. This year they finished 3-5.

The big linemen losses — Barnowski’s protection — was forcing him to weigh his injury risk against having a senior basketball season.

“We did it for each other,” Barnowski said. “I talked with Shawn, and we knew we had a big community behind us and it would be hard for them if we just quit. 

“I knew we weren’t going to have the same powerhouse team we had,” he continued. “We weren’t very good this year, but we still had a blast.”

This week’s loss put an end to the possible Breslin championship finish, but it left the friends happy with the decision to play both sports. The Eagles finished 20-4.

Barnowski led St. Mary in scoring. He averaged better than 20 points a game with more than seven rebounds and five assists. Bramer averaged just under 15 points per game, and almost 10 rebounds.

The two big men each scored 11 in the season-ending loss. Thompson scored 14. This year’s senior-dominated team likely will be remembered for its basketball success for some time. Barnowski, Bramer and Glynn experienced only one loss in District play over their four seasons.

“It’s a really special groups of kids,” Coach Barnowski said. “These kids kind of transformed St. Mary’s basketball.  

St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Brammer, Jack Gwynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. “They’ve really built the program,” he continued. “It’s been a roller coaster ride.”

Bramer and Dylan Barnowski also played baseball in the past for the Eagles, but that likely won’t happen this spring. Barnowski plans to golf, and Bramer expects to sit the spring season out and heal.

“We’ll never forget these last four years of varsity we played,” Barnowski said. “I‘ve decided to go a more relaxing route, and I’m going for some golf.”

With their Breslin dream over, the friends are ready to enjoy the St. Mary’s community support and move on. They’re bummed so many were sick in the end but won’t use it as an excuse.

“Hats off to Frankfort,” Barnowski said. “They did an incredible job of shutting us down.”

Bramer agreed.

“They just played their game better than we did,” he said. “They took the lead at the end of the third quarter, and it was a battle from there.”

Tom SpencerTom 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 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) St. Mary’s seniors Dylan Barnowski, left, and Shawn Bramer hold up the team’s District championship trophy last week. (2) Eagles coach Matt Barnowski, center, and assistant Sander Scott coach up their team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick. (3) Dylan Barnowski and Bramer also teamed up during successful football careers. (4) St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Bramer, Jack Glynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. (Sideline photo by Tom Spencer; player photos by Emmerson Lamb Photography.)