Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 5
January 11, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It’s hard to tell this early how well some of our early risers will play out the final two months of this boys basketball season.
But judging by some of the scores we’ve seen, it fair to believe at least a few are in contention to stay, at least at the league level.
Each week during the regular season, we’ll glance at four teams from each class that have caught our attention. Results and records below are based on schedules posted at MHSAA.com.
East Lansing (6-0) – It’s fair to call East Lansing the best of a strong group in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue; keyed by standout sophomore Brandon Johns and a strong group of 3-point shooters, the Trojans lead the league and have wins over reigning champion Lansing Everett and CAAC White contender Williamston.
Flushing (4-0) – The Raiders are off to their best start this decade after finishing last season with nine wins over their last 10 games; this winter’s victories are by 20, 13, 38 and 22 points, respectively.
Pontiac (8-0) – The Phoenix is off to its best start since 2010-11 with Oakland Activities Association White play beginning this week; Pontiac was a solid 14-7 a year ago and a league runner-up to Troy Athens, which is in a different division this season.
Rochester Adams (6-0) – Led by scoring machine Spencer Littleson, the Highlanders are off to their best start since 2012-13 with three straight wins by five or fewer points after a fourth in overtime to open this season.
Alma (5-1) – After opening with a loss to Haslett, Alma has run off five straight victories to build a one-game lead in the Tri-Valley Conference Central over Freeland, which the Panthers beat 42-38 on Dec. 15. Alma beat Freeland by a win to claim the league title last season.
Detroit University Prep (7-0) – University Prep has been nearly unstoppable, with Auburn Hills Avondale and Detroit Cass Tech the only opponents to finish within striking distance.
Dowagiac (7-0) – The Chieftains have won back-to-back overtime games over Niles and Edwardsburg after five-point wins over Sturgis and Jackson to end December; they’ve helped erase memories of the team’s three straight losses to close last winter.
Standish-Sterling (4-0) – The Panthers are 4-0 for the first time since 2010-11, and including last year have won nine straight in the regular season – with eight of those nine wins by double digits.
Bad Axe (7-0) – The Hatchets are playing for their second straight league title and are off to a solid start with five double-digit wins but also two close ones – including last week’s 42-41 Greater Thumb Conference West opener over Vassar.
Erie-Mason (6-0) – The Eagles have topped out at 12 wins twice this decade, but find themselves halfway there already and tied early for first in the Lenawee County Athletic Association and with four straight wins by 12 or more points.
Ishpeming (4-0) – The Hematites again got a late start coming off a fourth straight trip to Ford Field for the MHSAA Football Finals, but have caught up quickly; we’ll see how far along they are when they face rival Negaunee on Wednesday.
Lakeview (6-0) – The Wildcats are playing for their third straight league title and face last season Central State Activities Association Silver runner-up Kent City on Friday; Lakeview has had only one game decided by fewer than 10 points so far, last week against Morley Stanwood.
Buckley (5-0) – The Bears improved from a combined three wins from 2012-14 to reach 11-11 last winter, and are continuing the rise as they sit tied for first in the Northwest Conference and with four games scoring at least 76 points.
Crystal Falls Forest Park (6-0) – The Trojans will again have to deal with reigning Class D champion Powers North Central in the Skyline Central Conference West, but they’re gearing up with a streak of four straight wins by at least 20 points.
Ewen-Trout Creek (4-1) – Despite a two-point overtime loss to Houghton on Thursday, Ewen-Trout Creek is in first place in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain standings coming off two straight sub-.500 finishes.
Onaway (4-0) – The Cardinals have been an upper division team in the Ski Valley Conference over the last three seasons, but hope to be a contender this time and look strong so far with wins of 44, 17, 21 and 26 points, respectively.
PHOTO: A Lakeview player, right, works for position during last week’s win against Remus Chippewa Hills. (Click for more photos from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.