By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It's rare that Michigan's smallest schools are the headliners of the MHSAA's Boys Basketball Finals.
But as the final weekend of the tournament gets underway Thursday, the evening session's first game arguably is the most intriguing matchup of the entire event.
Two-time reigning Class D champion Powers North Central will try to extend the longest active winning streak in the country against a recent three-time champion in Southfield Christian that played in Class C the last two seasons. The Jets have won 81 straight games, breaking the MHSAA record with their 66th straight victory earlier this winter.
That's just one of what should be an entertaining collection of games in Class C and D this weekend. All four Class C and D Semifinals will be played Thursday, with all four championship games Saturday.
Semifinals - Thursday
Detroit Edison PSA (14-11) vs. Flint Beecher (21-5), 1 p.m.
Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (20-5) vs. Manton (21-4), 2:50 p.m.
Powers North Central (26-0) vs. Southfield Christian (21-5), 6 p.m.
Lansing Christian (19-6) vs. Buckley (25-0), 7:50 p.m.
Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6:30 p.m.
Class C - 4:30 p.m.
Class D - 10 a.m.
Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.
And now, a look at the semifinalists in Class C and D. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.) The Boys Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System.
DETROIT EDISON PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMY
Record/rank: 14-11, unranked
League finish: Third in Detroit Public School League East Division 1
Coach: Brandon Neely, fourth season (56-33)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 61-48 over No. 2 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the Quarterfinal, 66-60 over Detroit Cornerstone Health & Technology in the Regional Final, 57-51 over Detroit Martin Luther King, 99-81 over Class A honorable mention Detroit East English, 68-67 over Detroit Osborn.
Players to watch: Pierre Mitchell, Jr., 6-0 jr G; Gary Solomon, 6-5 jr. G (Statistics not submitted).
Outlook: Edison won its first Regional title to advance to this week and will now try to follow the example of its girls team, which won the Class C championship last weekend. The Pioneers joined the PSL this season and split with Class A King and East English and Class B quarterfinalist Osborn – and also avenged an earlier 26-point loss to Cornerstone by winning the Regional Final. Solomon made the all-state first team, and Mitchell earned an honorable mention.
Record/rank: 21-5, Tied for No. 4
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Red
Coach: Mike Williams, 13th season (250-76)
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2016), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-57 over Class A No. 6 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 72-57 and 88-63 over Lake Fenton, 63-54, 77-73 and 80-64 (District Quarterfinal) over Flint Hamady.
Players to watch: Malik Ellison, 5-7 sr. G (23.8 ppg, 64 3-pointers); Jordan Roland, 5-11 sr. G (12.6 ppg); Levane Blake, 6-7 sr. C (7.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.7 bpg).
Outlook: Beecher has won the last two Class C championships and four of the last five, and enters with the Class C Player of the Year from The Associated Press in Ellison – who with Blake and Roland started in last season’s championship game (Ellison and Blake also started in the 2015 Final). Blake and Roland both earned all-state honorable mentions this season to go with Ellison’s top honor. The losses were all to Class A and B teams, including B semifinalist New Haven (in triple overtime) and reigning champion Detroit Henry Ford
GRAND RAPIDS COVENANT CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 20-5, unranked
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Tyler Schimmel, third season (48-20)
Championship history: Class D champion in 1994, 1993 and 1973.
Best wins: 51-50 over Muskegon Heights Academy in the Regional Final, 56-52 (2OT) over No. 7 Pewamo-Westphalia in the Regional Semifinal, 80-67 over Class D No. 8 Lansing Christian, 61-47 over Spring Lake.
Players to watch: Carson Meulenberg, 6-6 jr. F (13.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Benji Kuiper, 6-0 sr. G (10.6 ppg, 49 3-pointers, 5.1 apg).
Outlook: Covenant Christian is back at the Semifinals for the first time since 1994 and for the first time ever as a Class C school. The Chargers played a regular-season schedule filled with larger schools, making their streak of 13 wins over their last 14 games especially impressive. Kuiper earned an all-state honorable mention and distributes to a starting lineup with four juniors. In addition to Kuiper’s sharp-shooting, teammate Tyler Cammenga had 64 3-pointers entering the week; he and forward Trenton Koole both add 9.1 ppg.
Record/rank: 21-4, unranked
League finish: Second in Highland Conference
Coach: Ryan Hiller, 11th season (123-119)
Championship history: Class C (Lower Peninsula) champion 1946, Class C runner-up 1996.
Best wins: 51-49 (OT) over Negaunee in the Quarterfinal, 54-48 over No. 1 McBain in the Regional Final, 58-32 over Beaverton, 52-48 over Petoskey, 76-72 over Traverse City West.
Players to watch: Jayden Perry, 5-7 jr. G (16 ppg, 53 3-pointers); Hunter Ruell, 5-8 jr. G (12.7 ppg, 3.6 apg, 50 3-pointers).
Outlook: Manton’s only two losses over its last 17 games were to undefeated Buckley and McBain, which Manton then upset during the tournament. The Rangers have increased their win total for four straight seasons. Perry earned an all-state honorable mention and has the most attempts among a trip of sharp shooters – in addition to Perry and Ruell, sophomore guard Trevor Salani also had 48-pointers entering the week and averages 11 points per game.
Record/rank: 25-0, No. 4
League finish: First in Northwest Conference
Coach: Blair Moss, fourth season (53-36)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 48-37 over Wyoming Tri-unity Christian in the Quarterfinal, 50-38 and 56-41 over No. 8 Frankfort, 77-73 over Manton, 78-39 and 63-60 over Maple City Glen Lake.
Players to watch: Denver Cade, 6-2 jr. G (21 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.6 apg); Austin Harris, 6-3 jr. C (18.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.4 bpg).
Outlook: Buckley has advanced to its first Semifinals with only two wins by fewer than 10 points this season and without a senior in the starting lineup. The Bears set the tone with a District title in 2016, and have simply dominated led by Cade, an all-state first-team selection, and honorable mention pick Harris. Those two also had combined for 103 3-pointers heading into this week, both making more than half their attempts from behind the arc. Junior guard Joe Weber adds another 10.9 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Record/rank: 19-6, Tied for No. 8
League finish: Tied for first in Greater Lansing Activities Conference
Coach: Chris Mustaine, first season (19-6)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 63-36 over Webberville in the District Semifinal, 74-63 over Olivet, 54-39 over Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, 56-42 over Leslie.
Players to watch: Matt Havey, 6-1 sr. G (17.9 ppg, 58 3-pointers); Preston Granger, 6-4 sr. C (15.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg).
Outlook: Lansing Christian is back at the Breslin Center for the first time since 2013 and after bouncing back from a brief lull at the end of the regular season. The Pilgrims dropped three of their final four games before the playoffs, but stormed back to win all of their tournament games by at least 10 points. Havey is an impressive shooter; the all-state first-teamer was hitting 42 percent of his 3-point tries entering the week. Granger also earned an all-state honorable mention, and senior guard Forrest Bouyer adds 10 points, 6.2 assists and 3.9 steals per game.
POWERS NORTH CENTRAL
Record/rank: 26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Skyline Central Conference West
Coach: Adam Mercier, 11th season (186-78)
Championship history: Class D champions 2016, 2015 and 1984.
Best wins: 74-61 over No. 3 Hillman in the Quarterfinal, 75-73 over Dollar Bay in the Regional Semifinal, 76-29, 84-52 and 79-60 (District Final) over No. 7 Bark River-Harris.
Players to watch: Jason Whitens, 6-5 sr. G (22.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 6.1 apg, 3.1 spg); Dawson Bilski, 6-3 sr. G (19.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.0 apg).
Outlook: North Central has now won 81 straight games, including through two straight Class D title runs. Whitens was named Class D co-Player of the Year by The Associated Press and was a Mr. Basketball Award finalist, and Bilski also made the all-state first team. They’ve both started on all three Breslin teams, while senior guard Bobby Kleiman (10.6 ppg) was a main sub the last two seasons and senior guard Marcus Krachinski (10.6 ppg) played a big role off the bench during last season’s run. A number of players also were part of the last two 8-player football MHSAA champions. Bilski will continue next season at Michigan Tech, and Whitens is choosing from a number of college options.
Record/rank: 21-5, No. 2
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Josh Baker, sixth season (110-18)
Championship history: Class D champions 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 64-42 over No. 10 Fowler in the Quarterfinal, 72-65 over North Farmington, 87-77 over West Bloomfield, 73-55 over Detroit Cornerstone Health & Technology.
Players to watch: Bryce Washington, 6-3 jr. G (18.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg); Brock Washington, 6-4 sr. G (13.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian played in Class C the last two seasons and won two District titles, and returns to Class D with plenty of star power again. Washington was named co-Player of the Year with Whitens, and Brock Washington also made the all-state first team. Sophomore guards Harlond Beverly (12.4 ppg) and Caleb Hunter (11.6) also offer scoring punch, and all four had at least 22 3-pointers this season entering this week. Three losses came to Class A teams, and the other two came to teams in Class B including one to semifinalist River Rouge.
PHOTO: Powers North Central's Bobby Kleiman (21) drives around a Bark River-Harris defender during their first matchup this season. (Photo by Paul Gerard)
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.