Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 8

January 30, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A record nearly 60 years old was toppled last week by Powers North Central. Now Beaverton is readying to celebrate a new winningest coach in MHSAA basketball history.

Those have been the headline grabbers in boys hoops over the last few weeks, and of course we touch on both below in this week’s Breslin Bound report powered by MI Student Aid. But there was plenty else to discuss too as we came out of halftime of this boys basketball season into a final dash full of exciting possibilities.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. Powers North Central 76, Bark River-Harris 29 – The Jets have brought a lot of attention to their small community and Upper Peninsula basketball as a whole thanks to what this win earned them – an MHSAA record with 66 straight victories going back more than two seasons and including two Class D title runs.

2. Detroit Catholic Central 52, Detroit U-D Jesuit 51 – This was the first of two banner wins last week for the Shamrocks (who also downed Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 70-54); last season, DCC fell to the eventual Class A champion Cubs by 21 and 35.

3. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 52, Saginaw 45 – The Saginaw Valley League North-leading Cavaliers handed the South-leading Trojans this loss, avenging last season’s 20-point Regional defeat.

4. Detroit Edison PSA 99, Detroit East English 81 – After losing to East English by 20 on Jan. 10, DEPSA stunned the 10-2 Bulldogs to improve to only 5-7 but with three wins over its last four games.

5. Lansing Catholic 76, Williamston 72 – These two split the Capital Area Activities Conference White championship last season, but this counts as an upset after the Hornets (10-2) beat Lansing Catholic by 21 during the first week of this winter.

Watch List

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


Melvindale (9-2) – The Cardinals have won seven straight since opening 2-2 and downed Brownstown Woodhaven 73-66 on Friday in a matchup of teams that entered undefeated in Downriver League play. Woodhaven is the reigning league champ, but Melvindale has an upper hand with this their only meeting of the season.

Sterling Heights (10-1) – The Stallions have taken major strides this winter after going 6-15 last season and winning a combined 13 games over the last three. That lone loss this run was in double overtime to Marysville, which they trail in the Macomb Area Conference Silver but face again Wednesday.


Fennville (9-2) – A three-point win over Gobles on Dec. 13 has kept Fennville atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore, and the Blackhawks can stretch the lead as they face the Tigers again Tuesday. Fennville is playing this season for a third straight league title, and the only losses were by one to Grand Rapids Covenant Christian and nine to Class A Byron Center.

Onsted (9-2) – The Wildcats sent 6-foot-10 Austin Davis to University of Michigan after last season’s league and District title runs. But after opening 2-2, they’re in position again to make things interesting in the Lenawee County Athletic Association; those losses came to Dundee and Hillsdale, and Onsted beat Dundee last week and sees Hillsdale again Tuesday.


Iron Mountain (11-1) – Last season’s Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference co-champion (with Negaunee) has been chasing all season after falling to current leader Norway by four on Dec. 16. The Mountaineers – which beat Negaunee by four last week – get Norway again Feb. 10.

Sand Creek (11-0) – The Aggies downed second-place Ottawa Lake Whiteford 70-53 on Tuesday to move into first place alone in the Tri-County Conference. Those teams tied for fourth in the league last season when Sand Creek finished 11-11 overall, but it’s allowed only one opponent to get within 10 points this winter.


Bellaire (9-1) – The reigning Ski Valley Conference champion already has a two-game lead on the field after handing Pellston a 64-57 defeat on Jan. 19. The Eagles took a loss on opening night to Harbor Springs 40-37, but have looked more since like the team that made last season’s Quarterfinals.

Southfield Christian (8-2) – After playing, and winning a pair of District titles, in Class C the last two seasons, Southfield Christian is back in Class D. The two losses came during the season’s first three games to Class A Ann Arbor Pioneer and U-D Jesuit, and the Eagles beat Class A West Bloomfield by 10 on Tuesday.

Can't-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – Romulus (8-2) at Dearborn Heights Crestwood (10-2) – The Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue has three teams with only two losses, and Crestwood sees the other two this week starting with the league leader.

Wednesday – Farwell (2-7) at Beaverton (10-1) – A win would give Beavers coach Roy Johnston 729 for his career, breaking the Michigan high school record set by River Rouge’s Lofton Greene from 1942-84.

Wednesday – Cornerstone Health/Technology (7-2) at River Rouge (12-0) – Cornerstone has played some tough competition and could be a challenger in Class C, and we expect to know more from this matchup.

Friday – Detroit East English (10-2) at Detroit Martin Luther King (10-2) – East English can still claim a share of the Detroit PSL East Division 1 title from the Crusaders and won the first meeting 71-57.

Saturday – Flint Beecher (9-3) vs. Ypsilanti Community (9-3) at Delta College – This matchup of teams with high aspirations is the most intriguing of the Delta College Showcase.

PHOTO: North Central's Marcus Krachinski (3) battles with Bark River-Harris defender Nick Lippens in the paint during the first half Friday night at Powers. (Photo by Keith Shelton.)

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers

By Tom Kendra
Special for

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.

West MichiganNo 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.

Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. 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.

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.“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 KendraTom 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.)