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 Send corrections or missing scores to [email protected].

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.

Watch List

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.

Can't-Miss Contests

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.

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: 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.)

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years 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 kendra.tom[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.)