Class C-D Preview: Wait Over for Contenders

March 25, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The majority of teams playing in this weekend’s Class C and D Semifinals have been waiting decades for this opportunity.

Six are seeking their first MHSAA titles. Three are playing for their first Finals berths, and two hope to appear in championship games for the first time since separate champions were awarded by peninsula in Class B, C and D during the 1930s and 40s.

All four Class C and D Semifinals will be played Thursday, with all four championship games Saturday. 

Semifinals - Thursday
Class C

Boyne City (21-5) vs Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (20-5), 1 p.m.
Hanover-Horton (24-1) vs Flint Beecher (24-1), 2:50 p.m.

Class D
Morenci (23-2) vs Waterford Our Lady (25-0), 6 p.m.
Fulton (21-4) vs Powers North Central (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, the Class D and A title games on FOX Sports Detroit's primary channel and the Class C and B games on FOX Sports Detroit-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

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.)

Class C

21-5, unranked.
League finish: First in Lake Michigan Conference.
Coach: Nick Redman, sixth season (82-57).
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class C runner-up 1933.
Best wins: 54-51 over No. 5 Iron Mountain in the Regional Final, 55-48 over honorable mention McBain in the Quarterfinal, 48-45 (District Final) and 57-42 over East Jordan.
Players to watch: Corey Redman, 6-5 sr. F (16.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.5 apg); Zach Napont, sr. G (10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: The Ramblers started this season 0-2 and then lost their final two regular-season games, but bounced right back to made their first MHSAA Semifinal since 1977. Boyne City proved itself winning a tight league race with three teams within two wins of the title, then beat Iron Mountain in the closing seconds to advance to this week. Redman has committed to play at Central Michigan University next season and leads a lineup starting four seniors.  

24-1, No. 1.
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Red.
Coach: Mike Williams, 11th season (207-69).
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 78-60 over honorable mention Southfield Christian in the Regional Final, 60-50 and 60-48 over Class B No. 4 Goodrich, 53-37 over Class B No. 7 Flint Northwestern.
Players to watch: Cedric Moten, 6-2 sr. F (15.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.2 spg); Samuel Toins, 5-9 sr. G (11.9 ppg, 51 3-pointers).
Outlook: The back-to-back champion in 2012 and 2013, Beecher just missed returning to Finals weekend in 2014, losing in its Quarterfinal. The Buccaneers stormed back this winter, in addition to the above-mentioned opponents defeating reigning Class C champion Detroit Consortium and solid Class A River Rouge. Moten and Toins are two of only three seniors; guard Malik Ellison is one of five sophomores and adds 12.8 points per game.

20-5, unranked.
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver.
Coach: Jared Redell, third season (47-23).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 48-36 over No. 3 Shelby in the Quarterfinal, 82-52 over Fennville in the District Final, 58-55 over Class B No. 3 Wyoming Godwin Heights, 93-53 over Class D honorable mention Baldwin.
Players to watch: Preston Huckaby, 5-11 sr. G (15 ppg, 3.3 apg); Kual Nhial, 6-6 sr. F (12.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
Outlook: NorthPointe is another team that enjoyed a fresh start in the tournament after losing three of its final four regular-season games – although the Mustangs did finish second to Class B semifinalist Godwin Heights in their league and are the only team to beat the Wolverines this season. This will be NorthPointe’s first Semifinal, and it’s a tough matchup for opponents in part because of its balance offensively; junior 6-5 guard Tyler Baker (11.3) and senior 6-5 guard Andrew Holesinger (10.1) also score in double figures, and Baker and Huckaby both have made more than 40 3-pointers this season.

24-1, No. 8.
League finish: First in Cascades Conference.
Coach: Chad Mortimer, 17th season (327-82).
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class D runner-up 1941.
Best wins: 50-48 over No. 9 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the Quarterfinal, 58-48 over No. 4 Hillsdale in the Regional Semifinal, 63-61 over No. 6 Jackson Lumen Christi in the District Semifinal,
Players to watch: Stefan Young, 5-9 sr. G (13.2 ppg, 4.3 apg); Brock Spink, 6-4 sr. F (11.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.5 apg).
Outlook: Hanover-Horton will play in its third Semifinal and first in since 2003 and after winning its 14th straight District title. The Comets have advanced with a pair of two-point wins over ranked opponents, avenging their lone loss by beating Lumen Christi. Senior 6-2 forward Preston Reiff (9.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg), junior 6-5 forward Preston Laketa (8.5/4.5) and senior 6-5 forward Lucas Crisanti (8.7/7.0) fill out a balanced lineup.

Class D

21-4, unranked.
League finish: Second in Central Michigan Athletic Conference.
Coach: Todd Walden, 18th season (231-172).
Championship history: Class D runner-up 2011.
Best wins: 72-67 OT over honorable mention Frankfort in the Quarterfinal, 64-60 over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the Regional Final, 55-53 over Pewamo-Westphalia, 75-71 over Class C honorable mention Ithaca.
Players to watch: Gregg Jones, 6-0 sr. G (16.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.5 spg, 54 3-pointers); Colton Antes, 5-11 jr. G (13.9 ppg, 2.7 apg, 74 3-pointers).  
Outlook: The Pirates have won two straight close calls to return to the Semifinals, but no doubt benefited from playing against mostly Class C teams all season – all four losses were to Class C programs including two to No. 7 Laingsburg. Fulton is dangerous from the perimeter, making 209 3-pointers entering this week at nearly 38 percent success – sophomore guard Zach Walden had made 47 3-pointers heading into Tuesday. Fulton has won at least 20 games five the last six seasons.

23-2, unranked.
League finish: First in Tri-County Conference.
Coach: Jim Bauer, 10th season (141-84).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 60-43 over Wyoming Tri-unity Christian in the Quarterfinal, 48-36 over Hillsdale Academy in the Regional Semifinal, 60-51 over Adrian Madison, 58-49 over Clinton.
Players to watch: Austin Sandusky, 5-5 sr. G (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg); Alex Thomas, 6-3, jr. G (10.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg).   
Outlook: Morenci is playing in its first Semifinal after winning in its first Quarterfinal appearance since 1954. The Bulldogs avenged both of their losses this season, and Tuesday extended a run to eight straight wins by at least 12 points by beating perennial power Tri-unity Christian. The team has 10 players, and all contribute with seven averaging at least five points per game. They also can shoot; seniors Tucker Stover and Hunter Borton both make better than 42 percent of their 3-point attempts, and Sandusky strikes at 39 percent success.

25-0, No. 1.
League finish: First in Skyline Central Conference West.
Coach: Adam Mercier, ninth season (130-78).
Championship history: Class D champion 1984.
Best wins: 63-51 over No. 6 Hillman in the Quarterfinal, 69-53 over No. 7 Lake Linden-Hubbell in the Regional Final, 48-44 (Regional Semifinal) and 45-43 over No. 5 Munising, 46-41 and 84-50 over No. 8 Crystal Falls Forest Park.
Players to watch: Jason Whitens, 6-4 soph. G (16.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 6.1 apg, 3.2 spg, 1.1 bpg); Rob Granquist, Jr., 6-1 sr. F (14.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.1 apg).  
Outlook: North Central has made three straight Quarterfinals and now two Semifinals in three seasons, with a combined record of 73-5 in that time. The Jets average nearly 72 points per game despite a schedule that has included six against top-10 teams. The team has only two seniors, and Granquist starts alongside a junior and three sophomores. Sophomore Dawson Bilski adds another 13.9 points per game.

25-0, No. 3.
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Intersectional 1.
Coach: Paul Robak, second season (42-6).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 58-29 over No. 4 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist in the Quarterfinal, 52-35 over Southfield Bradford, 58-45 over Harbor Beach.
Players to watch: Nick Robak, 6-4 sr. G (23.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 63 3-pointers); Andrew Kline, 6-4 jr. G (13.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.6 apg, 3.2 spg, 42 3-pointers).  
Outlook: Our Lady has advanced to its third Semifinal and first since 1993 keyed by a sizable and sharp-shooting backcourt. Nick Robak scores the most but also makes 47 percent of his shots from the floor, 38 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the free-throw line. Although the list of opponents might not impress in terms of state rankings, Our Lady went undefeated in a league that also includes three Class B and a Class C team and then won the Catholic’s League’s Class C-D Tournament. Only three wins were closer than 10 points. 

PHOTO: Boyne City's Derek Willis launches the game-winning shot against Iron Mountain during last week's Regional. (Click for more from Jarvinen Photos.)

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers

By Tom Kendra
Special for

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.

West MichiganNo 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.

Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. 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.

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.“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 KendraTom 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.)