By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Beginning tonight, 128 boys basketball District titles are up for grabs across our state.
Of course, some teams are favored – and we’ve told you about many of them over the last three months. But if we learn anything from year to year, it’s that we should expect plenty of the unexpected over the next three weeks.
Over the next two, we’ll alter the format of our Breslin Bound reports – powered by MI Student Aid – still looking at some of the key results from last week but also at three of the most eye-catching brackets in each class for the upcoming week of playoffs.
This week, that means we’ll take closer looks at 12 Districts total in addition to scores from last week that saw some of the state’s best match up one more time before single elimination games begin. (Click here to navigate brackets for all 128 tournaments.)
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit U-D Jesuit 68, Detroit Edison 63 – The Operation Friendship headliner went to the Detroit Catholic League A-B champ, but Class C and Public School League champ Edison could be tough to beat this month after playing much larger opponents all season.
2. Holland West Ottawa 59, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 49 – These two are expected to be among contenders this month in Class A and B, respectively; they finished the regular season a combined 35-4.
3. Clarkston 48, Hazel Park 38 – The Wolves played without injured star guard Foster Loyer and still won the Oakland Activities Association Red title outright by finishing a sweep of the second-place Vikings.
4. New Haven 81, Flint Beecher 70 – The reigning Class B champ downing the reigning Class C champ didn’t shock, but Beecher giving New Haven its second-closest game this season could be a sign the Buccaneers are rising as the tournament approaches.
5. Manton 75, Buckley 62 – These two are hoping to make return to trips to the Breslin Center in Class C and D, respectively, and got a nice tune-up with this late February rematch after Manton won the first meeting 62-60 on Jan. 20.
Districts at a Glance
These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:
Ann Arbor Skyline
Ann Arbor Huron (15-5), Ann Arbor Pioneer (11-9), Ann Arbor Skyline (19-0), Dexter (13-6), Pinckney (7-13), Romulus (12-7).
Skyline won the Southeastern Conference Red title for the second straight season but took another step into the elite with nonleague wins over Belleville, Detroit Pershing and Wayne Memorial among others. Huron is an intriguing District Final opponent; the River Rats lost to Skyline twice but cut the margin in half from the first meeting in losing 58-49 on Feb. 12. Romulus, which finished second to Belleville in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue, always seems to shine at tournament time and shouldn’t be forgotten despite closing the regular season with five straight defeats including a big one to the Eagles.
Berkley (10-10), Detroit Renaissance (13-7), Detroit U- D Jesuit (17-3), Hazel Park (18-2), Oak Park (18-2), Warren Fitzgerald (12-5).
Six teams from six leagues make up this District, with U-D Jesuit the champion of the Detroit Catholic League Central and Oak Park the champ of the Oakland Activities Association White. Hazel Park finished second in the OAA Red with both losses to reigning Class A champion Clarkston, while Renaissance and Fitzgerald also were contenders in their leagues and Berkley started this season 10-1 before a difficult second half set in. Jesuit has won eight straight, but Hazel Park took a win from the Cubs 74-63 on Dec. 15.
Alpena (9-10), Gaylord (11-9), Marquette (14-5), Petoskey (18-2), Traverse City Central (12-8), Traverse City West (12-7).
This District also features multiple league champions – Marquette from the Great Northern Conference and Petoskey from the Big North Conference. Those two met in the first game of this season, with Petoskey winning 55-38, but we could find out how much has changed over three months if they meet Friday. The Northmen have statewide aspirations, and their only losses were at Grand Haven 56-39 on Dec. 29 and 43-38 to league runner-up Cadillac (13-7) on Feb. 6. West advanced to the Regional Final last season.
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
Algonac (1-18), Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (18-2), Macomb Lutheran North (6-14), New Haven (20-0), Pontiac (5-14), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (11-9).
Reigning Class B champion New Haven would be a District favorite regardless of bracket, riding a 46-game winning streak and with only one opponent coming closer than 11 points this winter. But Cranbrook is an intriguing possible opponent in the District Final. The Cranes are coming off one of their two defeats, to Macomb Area Conference Bronze champion Madison Heights Madison, but won both the Catholic League Intersectional #1 and the C-D tournament title to highlight their best season this decade.
Remus Chippewa Hills
Alma (15-5), Big Rapids (15-5), Clare (17-3), Remus Chippewa Hills (6-14), Shepherd (6-14), Stanton Central Montcalm (7-13).
A pair of league champions meet in an opener tonight – Alma shared the Tri-Valley Conference Central, and Big Rapids shared the Central State Activities Association Gold title. The Cardinals fell in their opener a year ago, to eventual Class B runner-up Ludington, but are only two years removed from a Semifinal run. Awaiting on the other side of this bracket Friday could be Clare, which finished second in the Jack Pine Conference but is riding an eight-game winning streak and won a District title last year.
Grand Rapids South Christian (13-7), Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy (13-7), Kentwood Grand River Prep (9-9), Wyoming Godwin Heights (19-1), Wyoming Kelloggsville (17-3), Wyoming Lee (4-16).
Godwin Heights would be considered a New Haven-level slam dunk in just about any District as well, with its only loss Dec. 29 to Class A Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (18-2). But there are some dangerous games here. On the other side of the bracket, Kelloggsville was the runner-up to Godwin Heights in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver, but cut the margin from 29 to 12 when the teams met a second time Feb. 6. Kelloggsville must be careful tonight with the Sailors, who played mostly Class A teams in their league. Also notable, Aviation Academy finished third in the Alliance League and has improved three wins this season.
Burton Atherton (13-6), Burton Bendle (11-9), Burton Bentley (15-5), Flint Beecher (12-8), Flint Hamady (13-5), Montrose (10-10).
Beecher has won three straight Class C championships and five of the last six, and the Buccaneers’ record this season again requires context because five of those losses came to Class A contenders and two came to Class B powers including New Haven. The other loss, however, came to Hamady 77-71 on Feb. 2, and the rivals shared the Genesee Area Conference Red title. Likewise, Atherton and Bendle shared the GAC White title, and Bentley shared the GAC Blue championship – its first league title in 41 years. Hamady would have to beat Bendle and Bentley to reach Friday’s District Final, while Beecher takes on Montrose tonight and then would see Atherton.
Holton (6-14), Kent City (20-0), Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (12-8), North Muskegon (17-3), Ravenna (11-9).
A pair of league champions could face each other for this District title as well – Kent City won the CSAA Silver, and on the other side of the bracket is West Michigan Conference champ North Muskegon. But both should be cautious of Lake Michigan Conference runner-up Western Michigan Christian. The Warriors finished second in that league to reigning Class B runner-up Ludington and face Kent City on Wednesday. They also own a 46-40 win over North Muskegon from Dec. 22.
Maple City Glen Lake
Grand Traverse Academy (12-7), Manton (17-3), Maple City Glen Lake (18-2), Traverse City St. Francis (15-5).
Manton shared the Highland Conference title, Glen Lake shared the championship in the Northwest Conference and St. Francis won the Lake Michigan Conference outright. Grand Traverse also was in a title mix before finishing runner-up in the Cherryland Conference. There is some familiarity despite the different leagues, of course. Glen Lake beat St. Francis 49-40 on Jan. 20, and Manton – which went on to make the Class C Semifinals – beat Glen Lake in the Regional last year after Glen Lake beat St. Francis for the District title.
Athens (16-4), Battle Creek Calhoun Christian (12-8), Battle Creek St. Philip (10-9), Bellevue (19-1), Marshall Academy (16-2).
Bellevue and Athens finished first and second in the Southern Central Athletic Association West, respectively, and are on opposite sides of the bracket. Bellevue has won five straight District titles and posted two big wins on Athens during the regular season. The Indians will be part of an intriguing District Semifinal on Wednesday regardless of which team wins tonight’s opener. St. Philip finished third in the SCAA West and beat Athens 52-51 on Feb. 16, while Marshall Academy won the Mid-South Conference title.
Bear Lake (17-3), Brethren (8-12), Buckley (15-5), Fife Lake Forest Area (10-10), Mesick (3-17)
Buckley features three 1,000-point career scorers who experienced last season’s Class D runner-up finish, and the Bears have won 12 of their last 14 to keep a share of the Northwest Conference title against some of the best Class C/D competition in the state this winter. But they could meet a Bear Lake team in the District Semifinal that won its first league title since 2008 and also includes a 1,000-point scorer in Kaiden Hejl.
Bark River-Harris (12-7), Carney-Nadeau (13-7), Felch North Dickinson (2-18), Powers North Central (16-4), Stephenson (6-14).
This season saw three-time reigning Class D champ North Central’s record 84-game winning streak end. It also saw the rebuilt Jets win the Skyline Central Conference small-school division title, and they head into this week on a seven-game winning streak that has included victories over large-school champion Munising (17-3) and runner-up Bark River-Harris. North Central and Bark River-Harris could meet again Wednesday; Carney-Nadeau finished third to the Jets in league play and could await on the other side.
PHOTO: Baldwin and Beal City players work to gain possession during the Aggies’ 55-54 win Jan. 16. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.