Breslin Bound: Boys Report Week 9
February 6, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A record-setting boys basketball season enjoyed another highlight last week when Beaverton’s Roy Johnston set the MHSAA record for career coaching victories with his 729th, a 61-24 win over Farwell.
With some pretty significant highlights now in the history books, the state’s hoops scene will turn it’s attention to the final three weeks of the regular season – and lining things up for what should be another exciting March. This week’s top matchups are a highlight of our latest Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Martin Luther King 66, Detroit East English 60 – In avenging an earlier 14-point loss to East English, King solidified itself as the team to beat in the Detroit Public School League tournament.
2. Cornerstone Health & Technology 55, River Rouge 50 – The Class C Wolves are an intriguing contender in that class and handed the Class B Panthers their only loss.
3. Walled Lake Northern 42, Walled Lake Western 23 – After falling by seven to Western in overtime in their first meeting, Northern moved into a first-place tie with its rival in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North after another neighbor, Walled Lake Central, followed by handing Western a second loss in a row.
4. Portage Central 70, Benton Harbor 64 (OT) – The Mustangs bounced back from a painful 24-point loss to Kalamazoo Central to hand Benton Harbor also its first loss of this season.
5. Grand Rapids Covenant Christian 80, Lansing Christian 67 – The Chargers got to 10 wins by handing only the third loss this season to the Pilgrims, who were ranked No. 1 in Class D earlier this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (11-3) – After a brief slowdown midseason, the Cougars are moving again with five straight wins to solidify their spot atop the Oakland Activities Association Blue at the midpoint in the league schedule. Another title would be Stoney Creek’s second straight.
Westland John Glenn (12-1) – Coach Rod Watts, who previously turned around Lansing Eastern’s program, has John Glenn back in the mix after a couple of middling seasons. The Rockets have equaled last winter’s 12 wins and avenged the lone loss, to Canton, with a 57-51 win last week to pull into a tie for first place in the KLAA South.
Detroit Collegiate Prep (12-2) – The Colts will enter this week’s Detroit PSL tournament as the undefeated champion of the league’s West Division 2 after also winning the division and a District title a year ago. They won all 10 league games this winter by double digits.
Sanford Meridian Early College (12-1) – The Mustangs, who finished second to Beaverton in the Jack Pine Conference a year ago, put an end to the Beavers’ celebration last week with a triple-overtime win in the next game after Johnston set the coaching record. Both have one loss in the league after splitting this season.
New Buffalo (9-4) – After finishing two wins behind champion Cassopolis last season, New Buffalo is tied for first after handing the Rangers their only Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Blue loss on Jan. 27. They meet again Feb. 18 in a make-up of what was supposed to be the first matchup this season.
Schoolcraft (12-1) – An 11-point loss to undefeated Kalamazoo Hackett on Jan. 10 is all that has kept Schoolcraft from being the team with the perfect record and first place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley. They meet again Feb. 21; Schoolcraft has won all of its last five games by at least 40 points and should provide quite a challenge.
Gaylord St. Mary (10-4) – The Snowbirds will have a tough time catching Bellaire in the Ski Valley Conference – they have three league losses and Bellaire has none. But this season is a giant success so far after St. Mary went 8-13 a year ago, and it does get a shot at Bellaire again Feb. 15 after losing their first meeting by 11.
Holland Calvary (9-3) – The Crusaders have won three straight and six of their last seven, including 61-51 last week over Holland Black River to move into first place alone in the Alliance League. Calvary is going for its sixth straight league title – the last handful came with the conference split into divisions, but all eight schools are in one again this winter – and needs only two more wins to equal last season’s overall total.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Friday – Frankenmuth (11-1) at Bridgeport (13-0) – The Eagles’ only loss was 69-59 to the Bearcats on Dec. 13, and this rematch should end up sealing if the teams share the Tri-Valley Conference East title or Bridgeport wins outright.
Friday – Detroit Catholic Central (9-4) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (10-3) – The Shamrocks stunned Jesuit 52-51 only two weeks ago and have an outside chance of sharing the Detroit Catholic League Central title with another win.
Friday – Norway (13-0) at Iron Mountain (12-2) – A loss to Ishpeming on Friday hurt Iron Mountain’s title chances, but the Mountaineers could still shake up the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference a bit by handing leader Norway a first loss.
Friday – Westland John Glenn (12-1) at Wayne Memorial (11-2) – John Glenn won the first meeting Jan. 20, 69-65, and both are 7-1 in KLAA South play with two games left.
Saturday – Muskegon (13-0) at Ypsilanti Community (10-3) – These are stacking up as two of the contenders in Class A, and this could be one of the last telling nonleague games of this regular season.
PHOTO: Bridgeport takes on Frankenmuth on Friday in one of the most notable games in the Saginaw area and statewide in Class B. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers
By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
No 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.
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.
“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 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.)