Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 11
February 24, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Sunday was historic as for the first time, Boys Basketball District brackets were released with the top two teams separated to opposite sides, according to rankings produced by the Michigan Power Ratings formula.
While that was just another preliminary step for teams hoping to be Breslin Bound over the next month, more are to come this week as the state’s best finish off league titles or prepare to make their memories when the tournament begins in 14 days.
“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. River Rouge 58, Benton Harbor 52 – The Panthers (17-1) further cemented themselves among Division 1 championship favorites with a close win against one of the best in Division 2 in the Tigers (16-2).
3. Howell 75, Canton 71 (3OT) – The Highlanders locked up their first Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title since 2017 by outlasting co-runner-up Canton – a good thing because Howell fell three days later to also-second-place Northville.
3. Erie Mason 62, Blissfield 58 – The Eagles (13-3) avenged their lone league loss, by two to Blissfield (15-2) on Jan. 21 – to take over first place in the Lenawee County Athletic Association.
4. Coldwater 56, Battle Creek Pennfield 52 – After being upset by Jackson Northwest three days before, league leader Coldwater (11-6) hung on against one of three other teams in Pennfield (11-5) sitting within a game of first place in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
5. Ypsilanti Lincoln 108, Chelsea 102 (2OT) – This didn’t have bearing on a league title – Lincoln (15-2) had already clinched the Southeastern Conference White and Chelsea (11-6) is fourth – but it was the first time since 1998 that two teams in Michigan combined to score at least 210 points.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Muskegon (15-2) The Big Reds locked up their seventh Ottawa-Kent Conference Black title last week and have won 77 of their last 78 league games. Their only instate loss this season was 54-51 to Grand Blanc (15-3) – with the other defeat by 10 to Chicago Curie in December. They’ve been otherwise successful during an impressive nonleague slate that’s included wins over Ferndale (8-9 against the state’s ninth-strongest schedule), Saginaw (10-7) and Belleville (15-3) and with Kalamazoo Central (13-4) coming up next week.
River Rouge (17-1) Saturday’s win over Benton Harbor goes well with other nonleague victories over Ypsilanti Lincoln (15-2), Detroit Martin Luther King (13-5) and North Farmington (12-5) – and with Romulus (14-3) and Southfield Christian (13-3) coming up. Rouge’s only loss was 63-60 in overtime to Grand Rapids Catholic Central – the top-ranked team by MPR in Division 2. The Panthers also won their fifth-straight league title, going undefeated in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Blue thanks in part to sweeps of Hamtramck (14-3) and Ecorse (10-6).
Frankenmuth (14-2) – Two Tri-Valley Conference East teams are ranked among the top eight in Division 2 by MPR, Frankenmuth at No. 8 following No. 3 Bridgeport. The Eagles beat the Bearcats on Feb. 7 and trail in the standings by a game with two left. Frankenmuth also boasts solid wins over Jack Pine Conference co-leader Sanford Meridian (14-3) and Freeland (10-7) twice, and with room for a boost with Flint Southwestern (13-3) and Alma (12-6) coming up this week.
Otsego (17-1) The Bulldogs have won 15 straight and clinched the Wolverine Conference North championship, their third straight, and they can move to 24-0 in league play over those three seasons with a win over Allegan on Friday. The only loss was by 17 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central (see above) on Dec. 14. Only one team since – Battle Creek Lakeview – has come within nine points. Otsego also has an 11-point win over Edwardsburg, which it could see in next week’s conference crossover.
Iron Mountain (16-0) Returning a pair of stars from last season’s Division 3 runner-up run, Iron Mountain predictably has been dominant. The Mountaineers can clinch a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East title Tuesday and own a 69-51 win over second-place Negaunee (15-2) in from their first meeting Jan. 28 – they meet again March 5 to likely decide the title outright. Gladstone, with a 15-point loss Jan. 6, has come the closest to Iron Mountain so far.
Maple City Glen Lake (14-2) A 75-67 win over Frankfort on Friday finished a season sweep of the second-place Panthers (12-4) and clinched for Glen Lake the Northwest Conference title. The Lakers have won three straight league championships, including the last two outright, and are looking to make a run at a third-straight 20-win season as well. Their only losses were to Charlevoix (14-3) and Division 1 Traverse City West, and they beat Division 1 Saginaw Heritage (9-7) on Jan. 20 at Saginaw Valley State.
Hale (15-3) The Eagles have locked up the North Star League Little Dipper championship – their third consecutive – and despite losing two of their last three league games to second-place Posen (by one) and then Friday in a crossover that counts in the standings against Big Dipper champion Oscoda (by five). Those two and an earlier defeat to Oscoda (17-0) are the only losses this winter, and Hale did win its first meeting with Posen (12-4) by 16. The Eagles also have nice wins over Rogers City (11-7) and Mio (11-5).
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (11-5) The Defenders are 10-2 after a 1-3 start and sit tied for first in the Alliance League with Wyoming Potter’s House Christian (11-6), which they face Friday. Tri-unity always loads its nonleague schedule with bigger opponents, and all five losses have come to Division 3 teams with 11 or more victories. Tri-unity also is one of five teams in its league with 11 or more wins, making its place at the top even more impressive. The Defenders take on four teams with double-digit wins over the next two weeks.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (11-6) vs. Detroit Loyola (13-2) at Bloomfield Hills Marian – This winner faces Wednesday’s Orchard Lake St. Mary’s/Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice winner for the Detroit Catholic League Bishop championship.
Tuesday – Grand Rapids Northview (12-6) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (14-4) – After handing Forest Hills Central its only O-K White loss Friday, Northern must beat third-place Northview to keep in the mix for a shared league title and then root for Northview to beat Central on Friday so it can claim the outright championship.
Friday – Mount Pleasant (16-0) at Grand Blanc (15-3) – The Saginaw Valley League Blue champion hosts the winner from the Red in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.
Friday – Ann Arbor Huron (16-1) at Kalamazoo Central (13-4) – The Maroon Giants start off the week hosting Stevensville Lakeshore (14-3) and finish with another of the best from Division 1.
Friday – Traverse City St. Francis (15-2) at Charlevoix (14-3) – St Francis will likely clinch the Lake Michigan Conference title Tuesday, but second-place Charlevoix still will enjoy a chance to avenge its earlier 42-33 loss to the Gladiators.
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PHOTO: Menominee's Keagan Monroe drives to the basket while being surrounded by Ishpeming defenders Ben Pruett (23), Breck Bell (22) and Griffin Argall (34) and teammate Keaton Uecke. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
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.”
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.”
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.
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.