Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 1

December 14, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

One week can tell only so much about a season just beginning. But plenty of hopeful Michigan high school boys teams hope last week's successes are an indication of more to come. 

Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention, and this week's list includes a handful off to bounce-back starts. Results and records below are based on schedules posted at

Class A

Ann Arbor Pioneer (3-0) – Pioneer improved from six wins two seasons ago to 12 in 2014-15, and is a quarter of the way there again after a week that included a 71-64 overtime win over rival Skyline; Pioneer beat Skyline in the District last year after losing twice to the Eagles during the regular season.

Caledonia (2-0) – The Fighting Scots won close last week, 49-47 over Hastings and 73-67 over Byron Center, a couple of victories worth celebrating as the team works to rebound off a 5-16 finish from a year ago.

Grand Rapids Union (2-0) – After ending 9-13 last winter, Union could be a candidate for significant improvement as well; the Red Hawks opened with a 53-39 win over reigning Class C runner-up Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian and followed with a 54-53 nail-biter over Detroit Loyola.

Lake Orion (2-0) – The improvement has been immediate for the Dragons, who defeated Linden 66-62 and then Romeo 71-52; last season they won three games total and didn’t get their first victory until Feb. 4.

Class B

Coldwater (2-0) – Coming off the best football season in school history, the Cardinals are keeping the good times rolling; a year ago, an overtime loss to Marshall in the season’s second game started a 10-game losing streak and Coldwater finished 5-16, but this time the Cardinals followed another opening-night win over Battle Creek Lakeview with an 80-73 win over the Redhawks.

Chelsea (2-0) – Fresh off its first trip to the MHSAA Football Finals, Chelsea (9-13 a season ago) kicked off the winter with a 55-45 win over Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and 50-39 win over a Milan team that made it to the Class B Semifinals in March.

Croswell-Lexington (1-0) – Last week’s 39-35 victory over Marine City was only one, but significant after the Pioneers finished 5-16 a year ago and didn’t win their first game until Jan. 9. They’ll look to get to 2-0 tonight against Memphis.

Lansing Catholic (2-0) – The Cougars quickly switched gears after a Semifinal football run to open with wins over nonleague rival Okemos (50-44) and Capital Area Activities Conference White rival Williamston (72-69 in overtime), the team it tied for the league title last season.

Class C

Addison (2-0) – The Panthers finished a 12-12 season strong last winter with a District title, and started this one similarly by defeating Hudson (44-42) and Quincy (40-37) after losing to Quincy by 40 points the last time they met.

Detroit Allen Academy (1-0) – Detroit Allen played only once last week, but made a statement with a 107-79 win over Class A Southfield; the Wildcats were 11-11 a year ago.  

Flint Beecher (3-0) – What a way to start a new season: Beat a local rival in Flint Southwestern (77-49) and raise last season’s championship banner on opening night, then down Montrose 65-41 and Class A Detroit East English 72-69.

Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-0) – A year has made a difference for these Cardinals as well, as they beat Boyne Falls on opening night after losing by 25 to the same opponent in December 2014 on the way to finishing a solid 16-7.  

Class D

Chassell (2-0) – After starting last season 0-3, the Panthers are off to a quick start to improving on last season’s 7-14 finish. They downed Watersmeet 84-53 and Baraga 64-61 after losing to them by 35 and 23 points, respectively, a year ago.

Hillman (2-0) – The Tigers are hoping to build on last season’s Quarterfinal run, which ended with a loss to eventual champion Powers North Central; they started this time with a 60-43 win over Cedarville, which lost only once last season and beat Hillman by 15 on opening night 2014.

Portland St. Patrick (2-0) – The Shamrocks are seeking their first winning season since 2011-12 and are off to the right start with victories over Morrice (39-34) and Bellevue (52-50). Brandon Schreurer made six 3-pointers against the Broncos.

Rogers City (2-0) – The Hurons started 2-0 last season too en route to 8-13. But if the second win of last week is an indication, this will be different as Rogers City broke 80 points for the first time since 2012 with an 87-54 victory over Posen.  

PHOTO: Standish-Sterling also opened 2-0 with a win over Ogemaw Heights followed by this victory over Beal City. (Click for more from

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers

By Tom Kendra
Special for

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.

West MichiganNo 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.

Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. 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.

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.“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 KendraTom 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.)