Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 1

December 16, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This boys basketball season needed just a few hours of opening night to satisfy the anticipation that’s been building since last season’s MHSAA Finals finished a little more than eight months ago.

We’ll bank on that first week as an indication of what’s to come.

Below is our first “Breslin Bound” report of the boys season, powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at Those results have become much more vital this winter – for the first time, there will be limited seeding of the top two teams at the District level based on their Michigan Power Rating (MPR). Check out how every team in the state ranks, and send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].

Week in Review

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

1. River Rouge 63, Ypsilanti Lincoln 53 – This high-profile matchup started the week and season, as reigning Division 2 runner-up Rouge handed reigning Division 1 champion Lincoln an opening defeat at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center. 

2. Grand Blanc 80, Detroit Douglass 77 – This Horatio Williams Showcase headliner featured one of the state’s best sophomores and juniors and two teams that should be making pushes in March in Divisions 1 and 2, respectively.

3. Saginaw 88, Saginaw Arthur Hill 76 – After scoring 101 points in its opener, Saginaw put up another big number in its first matchup of the season with the rival Lumberjacks.

4. Ferndale 66, Flint Beecher 55 – The Eagles also posted an impressive win at the Horatio Williams event, getting past a Beecher team looking toward contending in Division 3 again after making the Quarterfinals last season.

5. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 48, Detroit U-D Jesuit 47 – Division 3 Arbor Prep started its season with a one-point win over the reigning Division 1 runner-up. 

Watch List

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


Ann Arbor Huron (2-0) Last season’s 13-8 record was a bit deceptive; two losses were one-pointers and its District defeat came in overtime. The River Rats are starting out on the positive end of those close games this winter, with their first win 53-50 over returning Division 3 semifinalist Detroit Edison.

Marquette (2-0) For the second straight season, Marquette opened with wins over Brighton and Petoskey – this time by eight and three points, respectively. Last season, that start turned into a 19-4 finish with league and District championships.


Detroit Communication Media Arts (2-0) CMA improved five wins from 2017-18 last winter to get to 11-10, and may be on its way toward taking another step. The Pharaohs opened with a 74-48 win over Pershing to avenge last season’s one-point loss to the Doughboys, then got past Farmington in overtime 70-68 after Farmington had opened with an impressive win over Wayne Memorial.

Imlay City (3-0) The Spartans are coming off two straight sub-.500 seasons but did improve two wins last winter to 10-12. The Harry Moore Tournament at Capac gave them an opportunity for three wins during the first week, and Imlay City capitalized by defeating Deckerville in the championship game.


Burton Bendle (2-0) The Tigers are halfway to equaling last season’s 4-17 success thanks to double-digit wins over Flint Southwestern and Flint New Standard Academy. The 84-74 win over Southwestern avenged last season’s one and 11-point losses to the Jaguars.

Farwell (2-0) The Eagles haven’t won more than five games in a season since 2013-14, and tied that high of five last winter. But they are 2-0 for the first time in at least a decade, opening with a 65-64 win over Remus Chippewa Hills after losing to the Warriors by 17 a year ago.


Mayville (2-0) The Wildcats over the last six seasons have gradually climbed, progressing to an 8-14 finish a year ago. Last week gave them their best start in at least a decade, as Mayville stacked double-digit wins over Akron-Fairgrove and Caseville.

Three Oaks River Valley (3-0) The Mustangs doubled their success last season from 2017-18, going from 6-15 to 13-9 and despite a 1-3 start. River Valley opened last week with double-digit wins over Decatur and White Pigeon and then avenged a pair of losses from last season to Marcellus Howardsville Christian.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Sanford Meridian (1-1) at Beaverton (2-0) – Three wins over Beaverton last season played significant parts in Meridian winning the Jack Pine Conference title and reaching the Division 3 Quarterfinals.

Tuesday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0) at Grand Rapids Christian (2-0) – GRCC won the regular-season and District matchups between these two last season, the latter on the way to a Division 2 Regional Final.

Thursday – Pittsford (1-1) at Bellevue (1-0) – These two both won divisions of the Southern Central Athletic Association last season; Bellevue won their regular-season meeting and the rematch in the Division 4 Regional Final.

Friday – Kalamazoo Central (1-0) at Benton Harbor (2-0) – These annual southwestern powers are meeting for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Saturday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (1-1) at Detroit Edison (1-1) – As noted above, both ended last season at Breslin Center, Jesuit in the Division 1 Final and Edison in the Division 3 Semifinals.

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: Flint Carman-Ainsworth opened the season last week with an 81-45 win over Davison. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

Howardsville Christian Striving to Transfer Fall Successes to Basketball Court

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

November 28, 2023

HOWARDSVILLE - There is a sign that hangs inside Howardsville Christian School's tiny gymnasium that accurately depicts the mission for the Eagles during the 2023-24 boys basketball season.

Southwest CorridorIt reads "In Jesus' name we play."

Ken Sparks and the eight players on his varsity basketball roster have challenged themselves to help one another understand what it means to give their season to  God.

"My goal is to help these boys find gratitude in playing for a greater power than themselves," said Sparks, a varsity standout himself at Howardsville from 1996-2000, member of the 1,000-point club and an honorable mention all-stater his senior year.

Nestled on the border between St. Joseph and Cass counties along Bent Road, Howardsville Christian, a Division 4 school for its sports with fewer than 80 students, has enjoyed a rich tradition of spiritual learning both in the classroom and on the court and playing fields.

The contribution of many talented athletes from several families has been instrumental in Howardsville's athletic success for years, especially this school year.

Howardsville won District titles this fall in boys soccer and girls volleyball. Now the Eagles hope to carry that momentum over to the basketball court.

With four starters returning, Sparks is looking for Howardsville’s boys team to battle for supremacy in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph League and improve on a 13-10 record from last season. The Eagles finished 7-7 in the league last winter and endured a disappointing District Semifinal loss to Marcellus. Howardsville Christian had won its District the season in 2021.

"We competed well with all the teams on our schedule and lost to some teams we shouldn't have," Sparks said. "There are eight teams in our conference, and this season we need to beat Benton Harbor Countryside to be the top team. It's been a good league for us."

Senior twin brothers Colin and Dylan Muldoon return for Howardsville, along with junior cousin Kaden Sparks, son of the head coach, and junior John Paul Rose.

The Muldoon brothers both are beginning their third year as varsity starters.

"Working together as a team is something we really want to do well. A lot of teams set a goal of winning Districts. The last two years we've fallen short of that goal. It's definitely something we want to achieve this year," Colin Muldoon said.

Dylan Muldoon echoed that sentiment.

"Our success in soccer makes us want to attain the same goals in basketball. We know we are capable of reaching those, so I think it makes us want to pull things together," Dylan Muldoon said. "There's a lot of long-distance running in soccer, but there's also a lot of quickness and turning in basketball, especially when you're guarding or driving around someone. You just have to be quick."

Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. Kaden Sparks, another three-year starter, will be Howardsville's best shooting guard.

"Winning Districts is achievable. We have to learn to work together. I played summer ball, and the biggest takeaway is that it taught me that I have to always give 100-percent effort out there. We had a great soccer season, and It’s taught us a lot about accountability," Kaden Sparks said.

Rose will be Howardsville Christian's starting point guard. He has been a starter since his freshman year, along with Kaden Sparks.

"The team chemistry and communication we had in soccer easily transfers over to basketball. As our point guard, it's important for me to try to get the ball to other guys who have open looks," Rose said. "I want to be more aggressive defensively, push the ball up the floor more and increase my scoring."

In addition, Ken Sparks believes the physicality a majority of his team learned from soccer will be a big benefit on the basketball floor.

"You build up your physicality from playing soccer with having to always body up. Watching them play sometimes hurts me, but that's what I want them to do in basketball. It helps them to want to draw contact and be physical on the floor," Ken Sparks said.

The lack of upperclassmen on Howardsville's varsity the last couple of years gave Rose and Kaden Sparks an immediate opportunity to play as freshmen.

"The fact John Paul and Kaden had that early chance at the varsity level is really paying off now,” Ken Sparks added. “Kaden is an excellent shooter. I want him to get the confidence that I had when I was in high school. He tends to be a little more passive on the floor than I like, but he's finally getting that aggressive nature that you need offensively.”

Kaden, Colin Muldoon and Rose all averaged double-digit scoring last season, while Dylan Muldoon is the Eagles' best defensive player. The Muldoon brothers will serve as Howardsville's team captains.

"Kaden is very self-motivated to become a better basketball player. His goal is to be the best player that he can be," Ken Sparks said. "John Paul is explosive and has really refined his jump shot to where he can be a scoring threat. He sees the floor very well and can really push the ball up the floor without turning it over. We're going to see big strides from him because of his determination and drive.

"Colin is a great overall player. He's a threat from the outside and can score inside with his height as well. If we're going to be successful, he and Dylan have to bring the same drive that John Paul and Kaden bring to the court.”

"I've coached all of the guys on our team for the last three seasons except one,” Sparks added. “We talk about being well-rounded. These guys are the best academically and spiritual leaders in our school."

Howardsville Christian’s most well-known alumni is Dylan Jergens, the third-leading scorer in state history with 2,782 career points.

The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (During the fall soccer season, the Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose helped Howardsville win a second-straight District title. The Eagles then lost 5-0 in the Regional Semifinal to eventual Division 4 champion Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Both Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose were named to the first-team all-BCS and District soccer squads.

The Muldoons were the two main catalysts in the Eagles' soccer run, along with Lukas Krueger. Dylan Muldoon had 28 goals and nine assists, while Colin Muldoon posted 14 goals and eight assists. Krueger added 19 goals to go with 16 assists. Kaden Sparks had five goals and four assists, and Rose added three goals and three assists.

Steve Muldoon, Colin and Dylan's father and Howardsville's head boys soccer coach, sees many correlations between soccer and basketball that will bring the Eagles success in hoops this winter.

"Communication is key. A team that doesn't talk on the field/court isn't going to win. They learn how to correct and encourage one another to deal with problems without getting too negative," Steve Muldoon said. "Individually, they learn how to anticipate. There isn't much difference between anticipating a pass and stepping in front of it in soccer or basketball or making a hard run down the court/field to get open for a layup/counterattack. They learn how to react and make the correct decision under pressure. The skills needed to do it in soccer and basketball are different, but most of it is mental and that carries over."

Determination was another big factor for Howardsville's soccer success this fall.

"We beat Lansing Christian this fall in a weekend soccer tournament and they are a much bigger and physical team than us, but we managed to beat them," Colin Muldoon said. "That win gave us a lot of confidence for the remainder of the season that we could beat anyone."


The family dynamic doesn't stop with Howardsville's boys basketball team.

Senior Kyla Sparks, Ken's daughter and Kaden's older sister, is one of three cousins on the roster for a Howardsville girls team that finished 12-11 last year. All five starters are back for that Eagles team as well.

"As a team, we want to improve on last year's record. With all our starters back, we feel we have a good shot to finish at the top of both our conference and District. Most of our basketball team also played volleyball this fall, and we view us all as family," Kyla Sparks said. "Being able to play with my two cousins makes good lifelong memories."

Kyla Sparks, who averaged 12 points per game her junior year, starts with sophomore cousins Kelsie Muldoon and Kate Evans. Those three also started on the varsity volleyball team that captured its first District title since 1997.

Coincidently, the mothers of Kyla, Kelsie and Kate were all on the 1997 District champion volleyball team.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Colin Muldoon drives to the basket against his twin brother Dylan Muldoon during recent Howardsville Christian boys basketball practice. (Middle) Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. (Below) The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (Top and middle photos by Scott Hassinger. District championship photos courtesy of Howardsville Christian School.)