Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 5

January 14, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

After slightly more than a quarter of the regular season for most Michigan high school boys basketball teams, nearly 10 percent remain undefeated. Many others have fallen just once with midseason approaching. 

Some of that could change this weekend, which could be one of the most exciting of the winter with multiple big-time showcases featuring some of the state's top teams.

Check out some of the matchups that especially pop off the page below, but also see the full schedule on the MHSAA Score Center

“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. Hudsonville Unity Christian 50, Holland West Ottawa 48 The reigning Division 2 champion won twice last week by a combined five points, Tuesday handing West Ottawa its only loss and then edging Holland Christian by three Friday.

2. Ann Arbor Huron 47, North Farmington 41 – The River Rats remained unbeaten with another solid win, sending North Farmington to 7-2.

3. Detroit Edison 60, Ferndale 55 – A qualifier for Breslin the last three seasons, the Division 3 Pioneers added another impressive win to a growing list this winter against Division 2 notable Ferndale.

4. Waterford Mott 60, Grand Blanc 57 – Add Mott to Division 1 teams to keep an eye on after this impressive victory at the Oakland County Tip-Off Classic.

5. Escanaba 63, Marquette 56 – The Eskymos sit just 4-4 overall, but 3-0 and first in the Great Northern Conference after this win over the reigning league champion.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:


Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (5-2) Just a season after finishing last in the Detroit Catholic League Central with a 0-8 conference record, the Warriors quickly are tied atop the standings after breaking that streak with the weekend’s 79-67 win over Warren De La Salle Collegiate. Brother Rice ended last winter 11-13 overall, but did show a spark winning a District title. The Warriors lost to solid opponents Southfield Christian and Macomb Dakota during the second half of this past December, but otherwise have five double-digit wins.

Wyoming (6-0) The Wolves are looking at a big jump in 2019-20 after last year’s 10-12 finish. They opened the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold schedule Friday with an 80-72 win over Grand Rapids South Christian, and Wyoming also owns solid early double-digit wins over Grand Rapids Northview and Byron Center. Wyoming was 16-6 and won the Gold only two seasons ago, so a bounce-back shouldn’t stun many.


Cadillac (5-0) With wins already over both 2018-19 Big North Conference co-champions Petoskey and Traverse City Central, Cadillac sits atop the standings while seeking its first BNC title since sharing it in 2012-13. Before defeating Petoskey 46-37 on Thursday, Cadillac opened last week with another solid victory 48-42 over nonleague Big Rapids. The nonleague schedule includes unbeaten Mount Pleasant and McBain as well during the final weeks before District play, great prep for a possible postseason run.

Clio (7-0) Make way for the Mustangs. After flipping their 2017-18 finish of 5-15 to go 15-5 last winter, they’ve flown out of the gate. Clio already has avenged a last-season loss to Flushing – 54-50 last week and their only win so far by fewer than 10 points. And after finishing second last season in the formerly one-division Flint Metro League, the Mustangs sit tied for first in the first-year Stars division with also-undefeated Goodrich.


Fennville (5-1) The Blackhawks bounced back from their lone loss last week to nonleague Niles Brandywine with a 42-38 win Friday over Gobles that put Fennville first alone atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore. Fennville also has handed reigning champion Coloma its only league loss. The Blackhawks are coming off a third-place Lakeshore finish and 10-11 overall run last winter.

Munising (8-0) The Mustangs won their league and a Division 4 District title last season, but at least for the playoffs will face a different path playing now in Division 3. The start has been similar, if not much better, however. Munising has avenged last season’s early losses to Gwinn and Rapid River and extended its perfect start Monday with an overtime win over Manistique.


Frankfort (5-0) The Panthers have picked right back up after last year’s 21-6 run and Division 4 runner-up finish. They’ve already avenged last season’s loss to Onekama with a 51-46 win Dec. 19, and they join Maple City Glen Lake as the two teams undefeated in Northwest Conference play – with Glen Lake coming to Frankfort tonight. Glen Lake defeated Frankfort twice last winter.

Pellston (5-0) Featuring one of the state’s leading scorers in Blake Cassidy, the Hornets are one of two teams unbeaten early in Ski Valley Conference play after winning the league and making the Division 4 Quarterfinals a year ago. They’ve won comfortably but also shown the ability to win close, with a three-point victory over Harbor Springs and one-pointer versus Fife Lake Forest Area – which both sit currently at 4-2.

Can't-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Maple City Glen Lake (5-1) at Frankfort (5-0) – These are the main contenders in the Northwest Conference, and Frankfort is looking to avenge multiple losses from last season to the reigning champion Lakers.  

Friday – Detroit Douglass (7-1) at Detroit Martin Luther King (7-2) – This is likely to decide the champion in the Detroit Public School League East; King won last year’s meeting by 19.

Saturday – Benton Harbor (7-1) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (5-1) at Ottawa Hills – This rematch of the 2018 Class B championship game highlights the annual Floyd Mayweather Classic.

Saturday – Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (6-0) vs. Flint Beecher (6-1) at Ferndale – These contenders in Divisions 1 and 3, respectively, face off in one of the top matchups at the Freedom Classic.

Saturday – Muskegon (3-1) at Ferndale (3-2) – This Freedom Classic matchup features two highly-regarded teams that could break out as January continues to roll along.

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: Muskegon fell Jan. 4 to Chicago Curie, its only defeat this season. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

Championship Experience from Coach's Point of View Unimaginable, Unforgettable

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

April 4, 2024

WYOMING – As the final buzzer sounded, it was all I could’ve imagined – and more.

West Michigan

In the weeks leading up to March 16 and the Division 4 championship game, I experienced every emotion possible as I envisioned what it would feel like to be an assistant coach on the bench at Michigan State’s Breslin Center as the Wyoming Tri-unity Christian boys basketball team achieved its ultimate goal.

In my first year as the junior varsity coach at Tri-unity, I had been on the varsity bench for a majority of the season, assisting legendary coach Mark Keeler and fellow assistants Brent Voorhees, Bob Przybysz and Mike Kaman.

I was there encouraging, motivating and supporting the varsity team. It was a role I embraced, and had become accustomed to over my almost 30 years coaching high school basketball.

I started coaching in 1995 as Jim Ringold gave me my first opportunity as the freshmen girls coach at Wyoming Kelloggsville High School. I would then coach Kelloggsville’s freshmen boys team for eight seasons, while also coaching the freshmen girls at Grandville High School. I would also coach the junior varsity teams at both schools.

I love coaching. I have a passion for it. I’ve always enjoyed getting the most out of my players while creating a bond between player and coach.

When girls basketball season moved from fall to winter joining the boys in 2007-08, I stayed at Grandville. I spent 21 seasons there before stepping down.

I still wanted to coach, and I heard that the Tri-unity junior varsity position was available. I had always respected and liked Keeler and was excited for the prospect of joining a perennial powerhouse.

I didn’t really know about Tri-unity growing up in the Wyoming Park school district. But as a young kid, I would rush home and eagerly await the afternoon delivery of the Grand Rapids Press. I would quickly find the sports page and read it from front to back, hoping one day to see my byline.

I began writing for the Press’ sports department in 1997. It was my dream job. And that’s also when I first started covering Tri-unity boys basketball.

I remember watching eventual NBA all-star Chris Kaman, along with Bryan Foltice and others play for this little Christian school and have unbridled success under Keeler.

MHSAA Tournament runs became the norm for the Defenders. They won their first Finals title in 1996, and they would claim four more over the next 26 years. They also had six runner-up finishes.

Tri-unity’s assistant coaches, including Holzwarth (second from right), monitor the action.I was sitting on media row writing for in 2022 when Brady Titus led Tri-unity to its fifth state championship.

I never thought that two years later I would be on the coaching staff as the Defenders pursued another one. But there I was.

I knew this year’s team had the potential to be special.

Tri-unity had returned four of its five starters from a year ago, after suffering a heart-breaking two-point loss to Munising in the Division 4 Final.

Eight seniors were on the roster. The team had a mix of talented guard play, senior leadership, size and depth. We had shooters and we played great defense, a trademark of Keeler’s teams.

This was the year, and that heaped lofty expectations on Keeler and the team. It was basically “state championship or bust.” Anything less would be considered a disappointment.

Keeler wanted it badly, and I knew the players did as well. I think they felt the pressure at times of living up to the expectations that had been set.

We had several lopsided wins, but also had a few tough losses to Division 2 and Division 3 teams – Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Wyoming Lee, Grandville Covenant Christian and Schoolcraft – all talented teams that I think made us better despite falling short.

As the postseason started, there was anxiety and excitement.

We were one of the favorites, but it wouldn’t be easy. We would have to earn each of the seven victories needed to win it all.

First came a District title, but then we had to play a quality Fowler team in its home gym in the Regional Semifinal. This was a game we knew would be a challenge – and it was.

We led by only one at halftime after a 7-0 run to end the second quarter. The score was tied 33-33 in the fourth quarter before senior Lincoln Eerdmans made a key 3-pointer to spark our victory.

As we went through the handshake line, several Fowler players said, “Good luck in the Finals.”

Our defense played extremely well in the Regional Final and state Quarterfinal to secure our team another trip to the Breslin.

St. Ignace was our opponent in the Semifinal, and we had to face a senior guard who could do it all – Jonny Ingalls. He lived up to the hype. He was good, and we didn’t have any answer for him in the first half. We trailed by one, only to fall behind by seven late in the third quarter.

Was this the end? Were we going to fall one game short of our goal?

Holzwarth and the coaching staff greet Keaton Blanker (4) as he comes off the floor. We were down by five points in the fourth quarter, but junior guard Keaton Blanker, and others, rose to the occasion. We rallied to win a tight one, and now we were one win away from a Division 4 title.

The night before the championship game, we stayed at a hotel in East Lansing as we had the first game of the day at 10 a.m. We had a team dinner, and the players seemed relaxed and eager to close out the season the way they had intended.

There was one thing that worried me. We were playing Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. A team we had played in the second game of the season and defeated by 30 points.

Would we be overconfident? I had no idea. They were a different team now, but so were we. Anything could happen.

Keeler gave a spirited and emotional pregame speech. In last year’s loss to Munising, he felt like the team played not to lose, and this season his big thing was “I want to win.” He said it to every starter that Saturday morning during the final moments in the locker room before tipoff, asking all five individually to say it back – which they did, the first one quietly but followed by teammates replying louder and louder as everyone got fired up and “I want to win” rang through the locker room. I think it inspired all of us.

After a competitive first quarter, we started to find our rhythm and expanded the lead. We were ahead by double-digits at the half, and a state title was within our grasp. Senior Wesley Kaman buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter to give us a 20-point cushion. It was at that point I knew we were going to win.

All five starters reached double-figure scoring, led by Jordan VanKlompenberg with 19 points and Owen Rosendall with 14. That balance was intentional and a successful sign for our team all season.

The exhilaration of winning was intoxicating. I loved watching the boys celebrate something they had worked so hard to accomplish. I will never forget their faces. I looked to my right from my seat on the bench and watched them running onto the court, just wearing their joy. They were just elated.

I was so happy for Keeler, a devout Christian who is respected by so many people in high school basketball circles. I learned so much from him this season. The way he approaches each game, his competitiveness. He instills his strong faith in his players and understands that the game of basketball is a bridge to a higher purpose.

Keeler is the fourth-winningest coach in state boys basketball history with a record of 694-216, and will be the winningest active coach next winter as all-time leader Roy Johnston retired from Beaverton at the end of this season.

The tournament run was one of the best coaching experiences I have had, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of a state championship season.

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) The Wyoming Tri-unity Christian bench, including the author (far right) and head coach Mark Keeler (middle), celebrate a 3-pointer late in the Defenders’ Division 4 championship win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. (Middle) Tri-unity’s assistant coaches, including Holzwarth (second from right), monitor the action. (Below) Holzwarth and the coaching staff greet Keaton Blanker (4) as he comes off the floor. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)