Breslin Bound: Boys Report Post-Break

January 7, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

With the new calendar year underway, boys basketball season is revved to begin three uninterrupted months capping with an annual trip to Breslin Center – and with a much-anticipated change to the tournament sure to draw some added attention on the way there.

Remembering that this season will see the top two teams in each District seeded for the first time, we’d like to take this week to introduce the Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) on Teams are searchable and comparable both by division and District number, and every Monday during the regular season we’ll also pull a top 20 in each division and post them on our Second Half rankings page.

There’s a full explanation of how MPR is calculated, and for the rankings teams were considered this week that had played at least four games against opponents that also are eligible for the MHSAA Tournament, since MPR includes only those opponents in its calculation.

Below is a look at some of what you may have missed in holiday hoops during the break. “Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at Send corrections or missing scores to

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results: 

1. Flint Beecher 76, Benton Harbor 62 – The Division 3 Bucs have won four straight since falling in their season opener, and followed up a win over Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth by dealing the Division 2-contending Tigers their only loss.

2. Clarkston 65, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 56 – The Wolves also earned a noteworthy win over Carman-Ainsworth that should affect Division 1 state rankings.

3. Orchard Lake St. Mary's 69, Grand Blanc 66 – The Eaglets moved to 5-0 with their only close win so far, handing Grand Blanc its first loss in another matchup of Division 1 powers.

4. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 54, Detroit Cass Tech 53 – The Cavaliers are mentioned a lot in this short list, but they also arguably played the toughest holiday schedule of any team in any division.

5. Detroit Cass Tech 72, Saginaw 62 – Although the Technicians went on to take their first loss three days later (see above), a 10-point win over Saginaw always is noteworthy.

Watch List

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


Holland West Ottawa (5-0) The Panthers went from Division 1 runners-up in 2017-18 to 10-11 last season, but the bounce-back is on with this perfect start. West Ottawa won a pair of showcase games during the last days of December, over Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills and then Muskegon Mona Shores. The Panthers will carry that fast start into an Ottawa-Kent Conference Red that also has Grand Haven and Hudsonville at 5-0.

North Farmington (6-0) An eight-point win over rival Farmington on Friday extended a perfect start that most impressively included a 47-46 win over Detroit Communication Media Arts on Dec. 21 – still CMA’s only defeat. North Farmington tied for second in the Oakland Activities Association Red last season behind champion Clarkston, and looks to be in the mix again.


Macomb Lutheran North (5-0) The Mustangs are on a roll coming off two straight sub-.500 seasons. They opened with three wins over Blue Water Area Conference opponents and followed with Metro Conference Holiday Reunion Tournament victories over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood. They’ve won twice by six points or fewer – experience which may come in handy in a Detroit Catholic League AA that features also-unbeaten Detroit Loyola and one-loss Dearborn Divine Child.

Sparta (5-0) The Spartans are coming off six straight sub.-500 seasons, but they’re already more than halfway to equaling last winter’s nine wins. They’ve held on in some close matchups, including a 67-66 victory over Gibraltar Carlson on Dec. 26. Sparta’s O-K Blue produced four teams (of seven total) with winning records last winter, and the Spartans begin league play Friday with hopes of joining that group this time.  


Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (5-1) A 40-39 overtime win Friday over Grandville Calvin Christian avenged last year’s two-point loss to the Squires and ran Covenant’s winning streak to five. After starting 2-6 a season ago and finishing 8-14, the Chargers also have avenged losses to Wyoming Godwin Heights and Zeeland West.

Negaunee (5-0) The Miners finished a solid 15-8 a season ago but with two losses to Division 1 Marquette and a third to Escanaba. Those two teams are the only two Negaunee hasn’t beaten by double digits so far this winter; the Miners opened with a 52-43 avenging against the Eskymos and handed Marquette its lone loss Friday, 79-73 in overtime.


Dollar Bay (5-0) A Division 4 semifinalist the last two seasons, Dollar Bay actually is off to a better start this winter thanks to a 69-45 win over past early-season nemesis Bessemer. The Blue Bolts have won four games by at least 24 points and the fifth by nine, and their 81 points against Chassell on Dec. 27 would’ve been their third most last season.

Fulton (5-0) The Pirates have finished a game or two over .500 the last three seasons after their most recent trip to the MHSAA Semifinals in 2016. But this 5-0 start is the team’s best since 2011-12, the difference in large part being holiday break wins over Division 3 Ithaca and Carson City-Crystal. Fulton also owns a pair of early league victories over Saranac and rival Fowler.  

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-2) at Grand Blanc (4-1) – Last season’s Division 1 runner-up Cubs have a pair of losses to tough Division 3 opponents and can make a strong statement to open 2020 by downing another Division 1 contender in the Bobcats.

Tuesday – Holland West Ottawa (5-0) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (3-1) – This is a great nonleague test for both, as West Ottawa (mentioned above) goes into a competitive O-K Red and reigning Division 2 champion Unity begins play Friday in the O-K Green.

Tuesday – Adrian Lenawee Christian (4-0) at Southfield Christian (2-2) – These are regulars among the state’s small-school elite, and this winter they have aspirations in Divisions 3 and 4, respectively. 

Thursday – Dollar Bay (5-0) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-0) – These two are early co-leaders in the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country division after they finished second and fourth, respectively, last season.

Friday – Freeland (4-1) at Bridgeport (5-0) – Champions (Freeland sharing) in separate divisions of the Tri-Valley Conference last season, they’re early contenders in the new-look TVC East this winter.   

Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Orchard Lake St. Mary’s edged Grand Blanc 69-66 in one of last weekend’s most intriguing games. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.