Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 10
February 13, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three previously-perfect boys basketball teams suffered their first losses last week, leaving only 15 undefeated in Michigan with the start of the MHSAA Tournament only three weeks away.
There are still at least two teams in every class that have yet to leave the floor unhappy this winter – but also many more teams that have tasted a loss or two (or more) but still can be expected to contend in what is looking like some wide-open brackets in at least three classes (with two-time reigning Class D champion Powers North Central the clear team to chase in the fourth). We highlighted a few more of the contenders in this week's Breslin Bound report, powered by MI Student Aid.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Frankenmuth 63, Bridgeport 53 – The Eagles’ only loss this season was by 10 to Bridgeport in Frankenmuth’s first game this season, and claiming this rematch to hand the Bearcats their first defeat also created a tie between them at the top of the Tri-Valley Conference East.
2. Iron Mountain 54, Norway 43 – The Mountaineers still need another Norway loss to move into a first-place tie in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference, but got in position by handing the Knights this first defeat of the season.
3. Carson City-Crystal 42, Pewamo-Westphalia 37 (OT) – The Eagles handed P-W its first and only loss this season and also this school year for a number of Pirates who also played on the undefeated Division 7 champion football team.
4. Muskegon 70, Ypsilanti Community 56 – The undefeated Big Reds broke Ypsilanti Community’s 10-game winning streak as they continue to take on the best from all over the Lower Peninsula.
5. Clarkston 73, Wayne Memorial 68 – The Wolves, holding down first place in the Oakland Activities Association Red, earned an impressive win but didn’t knock Wayne off-track; the Zebras finished the week by beating Westland John Glenn to win the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Holt (11-3) – The Rams are three losses by a total of 11 points from a perfect record this season, and gave undefeated East Lansing its closest game in a four-point defeat Jan. 13. They face each other again Friday with first place in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue on the line.
Holland West Ottawa (14-1) – The Panthers have built a two-win lead in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red with four league games to play and can finish a sweep of second-place Grand Haven on Tuesday. Those two tied for the league title last season, and West Ottawa went 6-15 only two years ago.
Paw Paw (13-3) – The Redskins have won eight straight and Feb. 3 handed leader South Haven its first loss in the Wolverine Conference North. Paw Paw still trails South Haven in the league standings and will have a hard time catching up, but already has surpassed last season’s 11-12 finish.
Grayling (11-3) – The Vikings – who went 10-12 a year ago – have won 10 of their last 11 as they eye a rematch with Traverse City St. Francis and a possible share of the Lake Michigan Conference title. Grayling’s only league loss was by five to the Gladiators on Jan. 24, and it will get that opportunity to avenge Feb. 21.
Breckenridge (12-1) – The Huskies, coming off a turnaround football season, are in first in the Mid-State Activities Conference with their only loss to second-place Carson City-Crystal. The Huskies were only 6-14 a year ago; they see the Eagles again Wednesday.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (14-0) – These Eagles own a two-win lead in the Huron League with four conference games to play and have swept second-place Milan. In fact, they’ve won 24 straight league games since falling to Milan in the final Huron game of 2014-15.
Bay City All Saints (12-2) – The Cougars have secured a share of the Michigan Summit League championship and have won seven straight games, adding to a District title they won to cap last season. All Saints also already has equaled last year’s 12 wins.
Northport (11-3) – The Wildcats can clinch the Cherryland Conference title against second-place Traverse City Christian on Tuesday after sharing the championship last season. Five more wins over the final six regular-season games and postseason would give Northport its best record this decade.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Battle Creek Central (13-2) at Kalamazoo Central (13-1) – The Maroons opened their season with a 12-point win over the Bearcats, but a BCC win would make the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East title pursuit a two-team race again.
Tuesday – Romulus (12-2) at Belleville (13-2) – The Eagles have a one-win lead over Belleville in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue thanks to a one-point win over the Tigers in their first matchup Jan. 20.
Friday – East Lansing (14-0) at Holt (11-3) – As noted above, the CAAC Blue lead could be altered with a Holt win, which also would break the Trojans’ 27-game league winning streak.
Friday – Saline (12-3) at Ann Arbor Skyline (11-4) – These two are tied for first in the Southeastern Conference Red with three league games to play heading into this week; Skyline won their first matchup by 11.
Saturday – Detroit Public School League Final at University of Detroit Mercy – Detroit Martin Luther King, Collegiate Prep, East English and Cass Tech will play in semifinals Tuesday to decide the title matchup.
PHOTO: Breckenridge defeated Vestaburg 65-46 on Feb. 3 and is 12-1 this season after winning six games in 2015-16. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years 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.)