Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 2
December 20, 2012
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As with football during the fall, Second Half tries to hit all classes and all corners of the state for these weekly boys and girls basketball reports.
But sometimes, focusing on the powers in Class A and B is simply unavoidable.
Most of this week's 10 notable performances came from some of our biggest and best-known schools. (Results and records based on those reported to Score Center at MHSAA.com)
1. Warren DeLaSalle (3-0) – The Pilots have been the Detroit Catholic League team to beat for half a decade, and that could continue this winter. DeLaSalle beat Farmington Hills Harrison 64-50 before edging Class B power Grand Rapids Christian 77-76 in double overtime.
2. Gibraltar Carlson (2-0) – The Marauders’ 70-53 win over Saginaw Buena Vista might not have earned the biggest headline from Saturday’s Metro Detroit Saginaw Valley Challenge at West Bloomfield. But given Buena Vista’s rich tradition, it was still intriguing – although Carlson is coming off a run to its Regional Final too.
3. Romulus (2-1) – I hope to avoid repeating teams on this list from week to week. But Romulus beating reigning two-time Class B champion Lansing Sexton 67-52 makes the Eagles a must again.
4. Grand Rapids Christian (1-3) – It’s been a tough go for these Eagles, who are expected to contend in Class B. But despite finishing the week with that close loss to DeLaSalle, they did beat reigning Class A runner-up Rockford 48-39 earlier on.
5. Rockford (1-2) – The Rams also opened with a couple of losses, but finished the week with a 63-53 win over Muskegon – which made this list last week and is considered a possible contender this season.
6. Bessmer (5-0) – After going 10-11 in 2011-12, Bessemer is halfway to matching that win total. Last week’s were close ones – 50-48 over Hurley, Wis., and 55-51 over Ironwood.
7. Lansing Eastern (2-1) – The Quakers have had three Division I college prospects graduate or move to schools out of state over the last two years, but keep rolling. They picked up solid wins over Williamston (68-58) and East Lansing (55-50).
8. East Jackson (4-0) – The Trojans are off to another nice start coming off a 15-win season. They opened last week beating Brooklyn Columbia Central 51-45 before doubling up Manchester 102-61 – after another high-scoring 100-94 win over Manchester a year ago.
9. Saginaw (4-0) – The reigning Class A champion is on the move again. After beating Midland 86-77 and then Saginaw Heritage 81-34, the Trojans came back Saturday to beat a strong Detroit Southeastern team 57-56 in the MDSV Challenge.
10. Flint Southwestern (3-1) – The Knights are already halfway to last season’s win total, thanks in part to victories last week over Flint Northwestern (63-59) and Flint Powers Catholic (70-39).
PHOTO: Grand Rapids Christian's Drake Harris attempts to drive around a Rockford defender during last week's win against the reigning Class A runner-up. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now 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.)