Class B: Moves like Magic

March 23, 2012

EAST LANSING – The first time Detroit Country Day faced this Lansing Sexton team during a Finals weekend, the Yellowjackets won an MHSAA championship.

But coach Kurt Keener knew that night in 2010 wouldn’t be the last his team would run into these Big Reds.

The rematch came in last season’s Semifinals – a Sexton win that was a little about revenge, but more about earning a chance to break a 51-season title drought.

When the top-ranked Big Reds faced No. 3 Country Day in yet another Semifinal on Friday, it was about finishing one of the most incredible two-season runs in MHSAA history. And Sexton earned that opportunity with a 74-59 win.

“We’ve come a long way since we started this out our sophomore year,” said Sexton senior Jeff Cain, one of six current Big Reds who played on the 2010 team. “We had a shaky start, 6-4 I think, and people started to doubt us. But we had a team meeting, we got it together, and we’ve been on a roll ever since.”

In the Lansing basketball community, that team meeting has become legendary. It’s impossible to argue with the results.

Since falling to Country Day 71-47 in the 2010 Class B Final, Sexton has gone 52-3 and won its first MHSAA title – last season, also in Class B – since 1960. Now the Big Reds will face No. 7 Stevensville Lakeshore in the last championship game of the winter, at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Keener has seen more than most over 34 seasons and 653 wins. So when he raves, it comes with an extra punch.

His biggest Friday came for Sexton’s 6-foot-6 senior Denzel Valentine, this season’s Associated Press Class B Player of the Year and a Michigan State recruit. He had 12 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and five steals – and drew a Keener comparison as the best big passing guard since Lansing Everett legend Magic Johnson.

Senior Anthony Clemmons (Iowa) led with 21 points, and senior guard Bryn Forbes (Cleveland State) followed with 19. Junior forward Jalen Hayes added 12. Total, the Big Reds shot 59 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Yellowjackets by 12. Sexton led by at least 10 for the final 15:31.

“We played a tough schedule, but that’s the best basketball team we’ve played this season,” Keener said. “They have no weakness. They have no weak player."

And yet, the Big Reds (26-1) made enough mistakes – like 19 turnovers – to look forward at Saturday’s Final with some added motivation. 

“You don’t always win pretty,” Sexton coach Carlton Valentine said. “(But) I don’t give them enough credit. They work hard. They execute the game player. They find a way to win games. We weren’t the smartest offensively tonight, but we made plays when we needed to.”

Country Day finished 21-6. Senior Robert Puleikis led the Yellowjackets with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Austin Price had 11 points and sophomore Edmond Price had 10.

Click for box score or to watch the game and press conferences at

PHOTO: Sexton senior Jeff Cain drives past Country Day senior Robert Puleikis during Friday's Semifinal. (Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.)

Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys Report Week 1

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 4, 2023

We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.

BMI Student Aidut the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at

Week in Review

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

1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.

2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.

3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.

4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.  

5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).

Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory.

Watch List

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


Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.

Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.


Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.

Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.


Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.

Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.


Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.

Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.

Can’t-Miss Contests

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

Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.

Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.

Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.

Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.

Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)