Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 6

January 21, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This week will mark halftime of another boys basketball season – and the point when teams that surprised early are showing with sustained success that they'll continue to have a say on how the rest of the winter unfolds. 

The top team in this week's list of last week's most impressive definitely fits that description. 

1. Ypsilanti Lincoln (8-0, Class A) – The Railsplitters equaled last season’s win total with arguably their best of a strong start, 60-53 on Friday over rival Ypsilanti.

2. Jackson Lumen Christi (9-0, Class B) – The Titans have risen from solid to elite the last few seasons and have survived four games this winter decided by six or fewer points. 

3. Kalamazoo Central (8-1, Class A) – The Maroons are looking to be back among the Class A contenders with their only loss to improving Lansing Sexton; Kalamazoo Central already has a two-game lead in the Big 16 West.

4. Leroy Pine River (8-0, Class C) – The Bucks did suffer their first loss Monday (in a nonleague game), but still appear on track to repeat as Highland Conference champions. 

5. Detroit Cass Tech (7-1, Class A) – The Technicians aren’t always mentioned in conversations on Detroit’s best, but have been so far this season and beat reigning Class C champion Flint Beecher 75-47 on Saturday.

6. Hillsdale (8-1, Class C) – The Hornets haven’t fallen since opening night to powerhouse Pewamo-Westphalia and face co-Lenawee County Athletic Association leader Dundee on Friday. 

7. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (6-1, Class D) – The Irish haven’t lost since opening night and beat a solid Muskegon Catholic Central team by a point Saturday.

8. Howell (7-2, Class A) – The Highlanders look like one of the best teams from Livingston County riding five straight wins including their most recent, a five-pointer over Belleville. 

9. Lansing Sexton (4-5, Class B) – The Big Reds have won four of their last six including impressive nonleague victories over Kalamazoo Central and River Rouge.

10. Buchanan (6-1, Class B) – We saw the Bucks in person Friday as they continued a winning streak that began after falling by just a bucket on opening night.

PHOTO: Detroit Cass Tech, here against Harper Woods Chandler Park earlier this season, has opened 7-1. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

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.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.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.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.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.

Click for the full box score.

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.