Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 9

February 10, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The first week of February saw the final boys basketball showcase events of 2014-15 and the first league tournament of this winter, with the Detroit Public School League beginning its countdown to Calihan Hall.

The following teams were among those that impressed as the final month of the MHSAA regular season got underway.


Macomb Dakota (11-2) – The Cougars sit atop the Macomb Area Conference Red standings and are coming off their best week. Dakota beat second-place Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 75-67 on Thursday and then edged Ypsilanti Community 69-65 on Saturday at the Lumberjack Classic at Delta College.

Salem (11-3) – The Rocks have finished third three straight seasons since their last league title in 2011-12, but they’re tied with Novi for first this winter in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central. Next up? Novi tonight, with sixth place South Lyon to finish out the league schedule Friday.

Sterling Heights Stevenson (10-3) – The Titans are 7-0 in the MAC White, two games ahead of the field with a loss to Dakota its only defeat of 2015. Stevenson finished third in its division last season and second in 2012-13.

West Bloomfield (12-1) – The switch from Blue to the White division of the Oakland Activities Association has been a nice change; West Bloomfield was seventh in the Blue last season but sits atop the White standings with three of four league wins by 14 or more points.


Detroit Communication Media Arts (13-3) – Despite its first loss since Dec. 18, to Detroit Osborn, CMA finished its run to a Detroit PSL division crown and then doubled up Class A Detroit Southeastern 40-20 in the first round of the league tournament.

Detroit Osborn (11-5) – The Knights claimed their second straight Detroit PSL division title and continued a nine-game winning streak by beating CMA in overtime and then Detroit Cody in the first round of the league tournament.

Edwardsburg (10-3) – The Eddies’ aspirations of repeating as Wolverine Conference West champs took a blow with a two-point loss to first-place Dowagiac on Jan. 26. But they’ll travel to Dowagiac on Friday with a chance to create a three-way tie at the top.

Imlay City (12-2) – The Spartans pulled within half a win of the Blue Water Area Conference lead by handing Yale its first defeat this season, 49-42, on Feb. 3. Imlay City's lone league loss came by a point Jan. 20 to Richmond, the league leader and opponent Wednesday.


Burton Atherton (10-5) – The Wolverines posted a 3-0 week, avenging a previous loss to Flint Hamady with a 65-60 win Friday and then beating Bridgeport in the Lumberjack Classic. Atherton is third in the Genesee Area Conference Blue.

Cassopolis (9-6) – The overall record isn’t stunning thanks in part to a tough schedule featuring a number of larger schools, but that experience gained is paying off in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph East. The Rangers sit in first place and beat a solid BCS West team in Buchanan 61-52 on Thursday.

Muskegon Heights (8-4) – The Tigers again are playing a variety of schools of all sizes and are 5-1 after a 3-3 start. Wins against Baldwin and Muskegon Catholic Central are impressive, but so are losses to Rockford, Lansing Sexton, Bridgman and Benton Harbor.

Shelby (14-0) – These Tigers can clinch their second straight West Michigan Conference championship tonight against second-place North Muskegon, which they beat 48-45 on Jan. 27. North Muskegon and Whitehall are the only opponents to come within single digits of Shelby this season.


Cedarville (9-0) – With much the same cast as last season’s MHSAA semifinalist – and the key players from the fall’s 8-player football runner-up – Cedarville sits atop the Eastern Upper Peninsula Athletic Conference  and has won at least 41 straight league games dating to the 2009-10 season (which is as far back as MHSAA regular-season archives go).

Frankfort (12-1) – The Panthers boys are matching the powerhouse girls team this winter, sitting tied for first in the Northwest Conference with Maple City Glen Lake. Frankfort plays Glen Lake again Friday after falling to Lakers 45-44 on Jan. 13.

Holland Calvary (13-1) – The Crusaders have clinched a share of their fourth straight league title and can make it an outright Alliance League North championship by beating second-place Kent City Algoma Christian on Friday for the second time in two weeks.

Powers North Central (12-0) – The Jets are preparing to land their third straight league title with a three-win lead atop the Skyline Central Conference West. An MHSAA quarterfinalist last season, North Central hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2012-13 and got a big win, 46-41, over second-place Crystal Falls Forest Park on Friday.   

PHOTO: Macomb Dakota edged Ypsilanti Community 69-65 on Saturday at Delta College. (Click for more from 

Howardsville Christian Striving to Transfer Fall Successes to Basketball Court

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

November 28, 2023

HOWARDSVILLE - There is a sign that hangs inside Howardsville Christian School's tiny gymnasium that accurately depicts the mission for the Eagles during the 2023-24 boys basketball season.

Southwest CorridorIt reads "In Jesus' name we play."

Ken Sparks and the eight players on his varsity basketball roster have challenged themselves to help one another understand what it means to give their season to  God.

"My goal is to help these boys find gratitude in playing for a greater power than themselves," said Sparks, a varsity standout himself at Howardsville from 1996-2000, member of the 1,000-point club and an honorable mention all-stater his senior year.

Nestled on the border between St. Joseph and Cass counties along Bent Road, Howardsville Christian, a Division 4 school for its sports with fewer than 80 students, has enjoyed a rich tradition of spiritual learning both in the classroom and on the court and playing fields.

The contribution of many talented athletes from several families has been instrumental in Howardsville's athletic success for years, especially this school year.

Howardsville won District titles this fall in boys soccer and girls volleyball. Now the Eagles hope to carry that momentum over to the basketball court.

With four starters returning, Sparks is looking for Howardsville’s boys team to battle for supremacy in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph League and improve on a 13-10 record from last season. The Eagles finished 7-7 in the league last winter and endured a disappointing District Semifinal loss to Marcellus. Howardsville Christian had won its District the season in 2021.

"We competed well with all the teams on our schedule and lost to some teams we shouldn't have," Sparks said. "There are eight teams in our conference, and this season we need to beat Benton Harbor Countryside to be the top team. It's been a good league for us."

Senior twin brothers Colin and Dylan Muldoon return for Howardsville, along with junior cousin Kaden Sparks, son of the head coach, and junior John Paul Rose.

The Muldoon brothers both are beginning their third year as varsity starters.

"Working together as a team is something we really want to do well. A lot of teams set a goal of winning Districts. The last two years we've fallen short of that goal. It's definitely something we want to achieve this year," Colin Muldoon said.

Dylan Muldoon echoed that sentiment.

"Our success in soccer makes us want to attain the same goals in basketball. We know we are capable of reaching those, so I think it makes us want to pull things together," Dylan Muldoon said. "There's a lot of long-distance running in soccer, but there's also a lot of quickness and turning in basketball, especially when you're guarding or driving around someone. You just have to be quick."

Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. Kaden Sparks, another three-year starter, will be Howardsville's best shooting guard.

"Winning Districts is achievable. We have to learn to work together. I played summer ball, and the biggest takeaway is that it taught me that I have to always give 100-percent effort out there. We had a great soccer season, and It’s taught us a lot about accountability," Kaden Sparks said.

Rose will be Howardsville Christian's starting point guard. He has been a starter since his freshman year, along with Kaden Sparks.

"The team chemistry and communication we had in soccer easily transfers over to basketball. As our point guard, it's important for me to try to get the ball to other guys who have open looks," Rose said. "I want to be more aggressive defensively, push the ball up the floor more and increase my scoring."

In addition, Ken Sparks believes the physicality a majority of his team learned from soccer will be a big benefit on the basketball floor.

"You build up your physicality from playing soccer with having to always body up. Watching them play sometimes hurts me, but that's what I want them to do in basketball. It helps them to want to draw contact and be physical on the floor," Ken Sparks said.

The lack of upperclassmen on Howardsville's varsity the last couple of years gave Rose and Kaden Sparks an immediate opportunity to play as freshmen.

"The fact John Paul and Kaden had that early chance at the varsity level is really paying off now,” Ken Sparks added. “Kaden is an excellent shooter. I want him to get the confidence that I had when I was in high school. He tends to be a little more passive on the floor than I like, but he's finally getting that aggressive nature that you need offensively.”

Kaden, Colin Muldoon and Rose all averaged double-digit scoring last season, while Dylan Muldoon is the Eagles' best defensive player. The Muldoon brothers will serve as Howardsville's team captains.

"Kaden is very self-motivated to become a better basketball player. His goal is to be the best player that he can be," Ken Sparks said. "John Paul is explosive and has really refined his jump shot to where he can be a scoring threat. He sees the floor very well and can really push the ball up the floor without turning it over. We're going to see big strides from him because of his determination and drive.

"Colin is a great overall player. He's a threat from the outside and can score inside with his height as well. If we're going to be successful, he and Dylan have to bring the same drive that John Paul and Kaden bring to the court.”

"I've coached all of the guys on our team for the last three seasons except one,” Sparks added. “We talk about being well-rounded. These guys are the best academically and spiritual leaders in our school."

Howardsville Christian’s most well-known alumni is Dylan Jergens, the third-leading scorer in state history with 2,782 career points.

The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (During the fall soccer season, the Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose helped Howardsville win a second-straight District title. The Eagles then lost 5-0 in the Regional Semifinal to eventual Division 4 champion Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Both Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose were named to the first-team all-BCS and District soccer squads.

The Muldoons were the two main catalysts in the Eagles' soccer run, along with Lukas Krueger. Dylan Muldoon had 28 goals and nine assists, while Colin Muldoon posted 14 goals and eight assists. Krueger added 19 goals to go with 16 assists. Kaden Sparks had five goals and four assists, and Rose added three goals and three assists.

Steve Muldoon, Colin and Dylan's father and Howardsville's head boys soccer coach, sees many correlations between soccer and basketball that will bring the Eagles success in hoops this winter.

"Communication is key. A team that doesn't talk on the field/court isn't going to win. They learn how to correct and encourage one another to deal with problems without getting too negative," Steve Muldoon said. "Individually, they learn how to anticipate. There isn't much difference between anticipating a pass and stepping in front of it in soccer or basketball or making a hard run down the court/field to get open for a layup/counterattack. They learn how to react and make the correct decision under pressure. The skills needed to do it in soccer and basketball are different, but most of it is mental and that carries over."

Determination was another big factor for Howardsville's soccer success this fall.

"We beat Lansing Christian this fall in a weekend soccer tournament and they are a much bigger and physical team than us, but we managed to beat them," Colin Muldoon said. "That win gave us a lot of confidence for the remainder of the season that we could beat anyone."


The family dynamic doesn't stop with Howardsville's boys basketball team.

Senior Kyla Sparks, Ken's daughter and Kaden's older sister, is one of three cousins on the roster for a Howardsville girls team that finished 12-11 last year. All five starters are back for that Eagles team as well.

"As a team, we want to improve on last year's record. With all our starters back, we feel we have a good shot to finish at the top of both our conference and District. Most of our basketball team also played volleyball this fall, and we view us all as family," Kyla Sparks said. "Being able to play with my two cousins makes good lifelong memories."

Kyla Sparks, who averaged 12 points per game her junior year, starts with sophomore cousins Kelsie Muldoon and Kate Evans. Those three also started on the varsity volleyball team that captured its first District title since 1997.

Coincidently, the mothers of Kyla, Kelsie and Kate were all on the 1997 District champion volleyball team.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Colin Muldoon drives to the basket against his twin brother Dylan Muldoon during recent Howardsville Christian boys basketball practice. (Middle) Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. (Below) The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (Top and middle photos by Scott Hassinger. District championship photos courtesy of Howardsville Christian School.)