By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A team that appeared in last season’s Class D championship game will be back at the Breslin Center this weekend – but not three-time reigning champion Powers North Central, which was eliminated in a District Semifinal earlier this month.
Instead, 2017 runner-up Buckley will return with nearly an identical cast to the one that lost only one game a season ago – in the Final. Back as well is Southfield Christian, an annual power which put a huge scare into North Central – the Jets beat the Eagles on a buzzer-beater in last year’s Semifinal.
But to play for a championship, those two repeat contenders will face tough challenges. Southfield Christian takes on another Upper Peninsula power in Dollar Bay, while Buckley faces Hillsdale Academy and its formidable frontcourt.
Class D Semifinals – Thursday
Dollar Bay (26-0) vs. Southfield Christian (21-4), 5:30 p.m.
Hillsdale Academy (24-2) vs. Buckley (20-5), 7:30 p.m.
Class D Final – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class D and Class A). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. The Class D, A and C championship games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, while the Class B Final will be shown on Fox Sports Detroit on a delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. All four championship games will be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.
Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. 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.)
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 8
League finish: Tied for first in Northwest Conference
Coach: Blair Moss, fifth season (73-24)
Championship history: Class D runner-up 2017.
Best wins: 67-50 over No. 3 (tie) Hillman in Quarterfinal, 79-34 and 68-40 over honorable mention Onekama, 73-59 and 68-51 over Class C No. 5 Maple City Glen Lake, 62-60 over Class C honorable mention Manton.
Players to watch: Austin Harris, 6-3 sr. F (17 ppg, 4.8 apg); Denver Cade, 6-3 sr. F (16.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.1 apg); Joey Weber, 5-11 sr. G (14.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: A trio of 1,000-point career scorers (listed above) have Buckley back at Breslin after they led the Bears to their first Semifinal and championship game run a year ago. In fact, senior forward Brock Beeman and junior forward Ridge Beeman fill out a starting lineup identical to the one that took the floor against Powers North Central in last year’s Final. Buckley started 3-3 this winter against a loaded schedule and shared the Northwest Conference title with Glen Lake and No. 6 Frankfort. During the postseason, Hillman is the only opponent that has come closer than 20 points of catching the Bears.
Record/rank: 26-0, No. 2
League finish: First in Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country
Coach: Jesse Kentala, 11th season (85-132)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 74-68 over honorable mention Cedarville in Quarterfinal, 63-60 over No. 10 Rapid River in Regional Semifinal, 51-42 over No. 5 Ewen-Trout Creek.
Players to watch: Devin Schmitz, 6-0 sr. G; Jaden Janke, 6-5 sr. C. (Statistics not submitted).
Outlook: Dollar Bay has made quite a march to emerge as a possible heir apparent after North Central’s three straight Class D titles coming down from the Upper Peninsula. This will be the Blue Bolts’ first trip to the Semifinals after they played in their first Quarterfinal since 1979. Only 10-10 two seasons ago, Dollar Bay improved to 19-5 last year before falling to North Central by two points in a Regional Semifinal. Schmitz is considered arguably the top player in program history and broke the career scoring record this winter.
Record/rank: 24-2, No. 9
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association East
Coach: Tim Wells, fourth season (72-24)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 56-49 over honorable mention Adrian Lenawee Christian in Regional Final, 56-46 over No. 3 (tie) Bellevue, 58-42 (District Final), 60-39 and 57-40 over Camden-Frontier.
Players to watch: Peter Kalthoff, 6-7 sr. C (21.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg); Michael Craig, 5-11 sr. G (13 ppg, 2.6 apg).
Outlook: Hillsdale Academy’s first trip to the Quarterfinals and now Semifinals has included the win over Lenawee Christian – to avenge one of the Colts’ two losses – and no other game closer than 16 points. Their only other defeat this winter came to neighbor Hillsdale High, a Class B school. Kalthoff is a force, making 67 percent of his field goals tries, but six players have scored at least 13 points in a game this season. Senior forward Nolan Sullivan and sophomore forward Lukas Tharp both add about eight points per game.
Record/rank: 21-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Coach: Josh Baker, seventh season (132-23)
Championship history: Class D champions 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 88-53 over Flint International Academy in Quarterfinal, 79-50 (Regional Semifinal), 72-22 and 56-39 over honorable mention Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, 68-45 over Class B No. 4 River Rouge, 65-60 over Detroit Martin Luther King.
Players to watch: Bryce Washington, 6-3 jr. G (21.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg); Harlond Beverly, 6-4 jr. G (16 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.4 apg).
Outlook: Southfield Christian’s return to the Semifinals last season after a two-year hiatus ended with a one-point overtime loss to eventual champion North Central. The Eagles’ return three starters from that game – Washington, Beverly and junior guard Caleb Hunter (13.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.4 spg, 57 3-pointers.). Again playing a schedule loaded with larger schools, Southfield Christian lost this winter only to Class A West Bloomfield, Class B Detroit Country Day and Class C Detroit Edison and Detroit Pershing; all but West Bloomfield won at least District titles this month.
PHOTO: Buckley’s Joey Weber brings the ball upcourt during last season’s Class D championship game at the Breslin Center.
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.