By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We’re a week from the start of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament, but the playoff atmosphere has taken over these last few weeks of the regular season as well.
Today’s report looks at a number of teams that wrapped up championships over the last seven days and others that have the opportunity to do the same over the next seven before our three-week trip to Breslin Center begins.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Grand Blanc 74, Mount Pleasant 60 – The Bobcats (16-3) added to their Saginaw Valley League Blue title by handing SVL Red champion Mount Pleasant (17-1) its only loss.
2. Orchard Lake St. Mary's 61, Detroit U-D Jesuit 54 – The Eaglets (18-1) added the Bishop Tournament title to their Detroit Catholic League Central championship, which they also earned just ahead of runner-up Jesuit (12-7).
3. Canton 58, Belleville 56 – The West co-runner-up Chiefs (13-6) earned a rematch with champ Howell for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association overall championship by downing the KLAA East-winning Tigers (15-4).
4. Traverse City Central 35, Traverse City West 32 – The Trojans (16-3) earned themselves an opportunity to claim a share of the Big North Conference title by finishing a sweep of West (7-11) that saw both games decided by a combined five points.
5. Lansing Everett 63, East Lansing 60 – The Vikings (11-9) are guaranteed to finish third in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, but affected the league title big-time last week by following a 15-point loss to Okemos with this upset of the formerly co-leading Trojans (16-2) that gave the Chiefs the championship outright.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit Cass Tech (17-1) Mr. Basketball Award finalist Tyson Acuff has led the Technicians to within a basket of a perfect season so far. Cass Tech defeated Detroit Douglass 66-41 on Feb. 14 to add the Detroit Public School League Tournament title to its PSL West championship, and it’s only slip-up was a one-point loss to Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Dec. 30. Wins over Macomb Dakota (17-3), Saginaw (10-8), Canton (13-6), Mumford (11-8) and East Kentwood (11-8) also are among the most notable.
Flint Carman-Ainsworth (15-5) As noted just above, Carman-Ainsworth handed Cass Tech its lone loss –an accomplishment in itself. But the Cavaliers also gave Goodrich (18-1) its only defeat while picking up a pair of wins over Saginaw and Davison (10-9) and one apiece against Arthur Hill (11-9), Grand Rapids Union (12-7) and Flushing (12-8). Carman-Ainsworth finished behind Grand Blanc in the SVL Blue, and the other three teams it lost to have only one loss apiece – Clarkston, Mount Pleasant and Flint Beecher.
Hudsonville Unity Christian (15-4) The reigning Division 2 champion has had just a few close slip-ups along the way this winter and always bounced back, and clinched the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green title outright by avenging one of those Friday against Byron Center. Those four losses – to Hudsonville, Grand Rapids South Christian, Byron Center and Zeeland East – were by a combined 13 points, and the South Christian defeat came in overtime. The Crusaders do have a two-point win over Holland West Ottawa (13-6) and also defeated first-round District opponent Allendale (13-6) by 16 in December.
Williamston (17-2) A 57-50 loss to Lansing Eastern two weeks ago turned the CAAC Red championship into a shared celebration between the Quakers and Hornets. But it’s been otherwise another strong run as Williamston is up to No. 6 in Division 2 MPR and pushing for what would be a fifth-straight 20-win season. The Hornets’ only other loss came in the opener to East Lansing (16-2), and they beat Eastern (13-5) by 17 in the teams’ first meeting and downed Lansing Catholic (15-4) by 14 also in December. Total, the Hornets have won outright or shared league titles eight straight seasons.
Pewamo-Westphalia (16-1) The reigning Division 3 champion quietly has won 15 straight since suffering its lone loss 61-59 to Laingsburg on Dec. 19. P-W defeated Laingsburg 54-36 in the Feb. 7 rematch and leads the Wolfpack in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference standings by half a game. The Pirates additionally have nice nonleague wins over Clare (14-5), Dearborn Advanced Tech (14-5), Carson City-Crystal (10-8) and Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (12-6) as they prepare for another possible postseason run.
Unionville-Sebewaing (16-2) Despite seeing their 31-game league winning streak snapped by Reese in December, the Patriots bounced back to share the Greater Thumb Conference West title with the Rockets. The only other defeat came to Division 2 contender Bridgeport (18-1), although the Patriots will tune up with another tough Division 2 opponent Tuesday at Clio (14-5). USA also has 20-plus point wins over GTC East co-leaders Harbor Beach and Sandusky, and over the 16 wins only Bad Axe has gotten within single digits of the Patriots. USA won their first meeting by one, but Friday’s rematch by 12.
Camden-Frontier (16-3) The Redskins trail Hillsdale Academy by a game in the Southern Central Athletic Association East with two to play. But they rank No. 6 in Division 4 MPR, one spot ahead of Hillsdale Academy, thanks in part to splits with the Colts (17-2) and Reading (15-4) and a win over Battle Creek St. Philip (13-6). The only other loss came to Bellevue (16-2). One more win will give Camden-Frontier 17 for the third season in a row, and 18 would be a program high over at least the last decade.
Webberville (14-4) The Spartans are tied for second with Division 3 Burton Bendle (16-3) behind Flint Beecher (18-1) in the Genesee Area Conference – impressive, especially considering Webberville won the second game against Bendle 72-59 on Jan. 28. Webberville last week handed Division 2 Ovid-Elsie (18-1) its lone loss, further justifying it as a team to watch over the next few weeks against opponents its size. The Spartans won 16 games both of the last two seasons and also won their District in 2019, so they could be set to take another step.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Portage Central (16-2) at Stevensville Lakeshore (15-4) – Both sit 8-1 in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West play, with this game's winner claiming the title outright. Portage Central won the first round 41-35.
Tuesday – Grand Blanc (16-3) at Flint Beecher (18-1) – The Flint area has thrived this season with Carman-Ainsworth and Southwestern also providing big boosts, but this has been the most highly-anticipated matchup between the best in and around the city.
Tuesday – Ypsilanti Lincoln (16-2) vs. Ann Arbor Huron (18-1) at Eastern Michigan University – The champions of the Southeastern Conference White and Red, respectively, meet in a potential District Final preview.
Thursday – Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (18-1) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (17-1) – As mentioned in discussing both above, this brings together the best of the Catholic League and PSL for the annual Operation Friendship.
Thursday – Benton Harbor (16-2) at Wyoming (18-1) – Both championship hopefuls will enjoy one last test heading into the postseason, Benton Harbor a contender in Division 2 and Wyoming in Division 1.
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PHOTO: Williamston, here during its first meeting with Haslett, finished a season sweep of the Vikings last week on the way to claiming a share of a league title. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.