Class A Final: Trojans ring up a title

March 24, 2012

EAST LANSING – Every time Draymond Green visited a Saginaw basketball practice this season, he reminded the current Trojans of the same thing:

The Michigan State and former Saginaw star has two Class A championship rings. They had none.

And he brought that up one more time when he went to dinner with the team Friday night.

He can’t tease them anymore. Saginaw – top-ranked entering the tournament – ended it that way with a 54-42 win over Rockford in Saturday’s Class A Final.

“Now I don’t gotta hear Draymond Green’s mouth saying we don’t have a ring. Now I can take my ring to his face and say, ‘Yes, now we do,’” Saginaw senior Davario Gaines said. “He said (Friday), ‘You’re happy just to be here,’ since we won yesterday. We said, ‘No, we’re not happy to be here.’ We hadn’t won anything yet.

“So now we won.”

The championship is Saginaw’s sixth, and first since 2008, when Green led the Trojans to their second straight. But this title-winner had a different look from those that won under previous Saginaw coaches Lou Dawkins and Marshall Thomas.

Those two sat behind the Trojans’ bench Saturday as first-year coach Julian Taylor guided a team that didn’t have a Green-esque star, but a number of contributors who didn’t get down during the streakiest play of the weekend.

Saginaw jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Rockford countered with 18 straight points. The Trojans came back from that with an 18-6 run to lead 25-24 at halftime.

The score was knotted 40-40 with 5:01 to play. But Saginaw finished on a 14-2 run, scoring the final 11 points of the game.

“You try to control runs and limit them,” Rockford coach Nick Allen said. “Saginaw is a very good team, and obviously we didn’t do a very good job of it.”

The Rams did hit 10 3-pointers, tying for fourth-most in MHSAA boys basketball championship game history. They made 55 percent of their first-half tries from beyond the arc.

But the Trojans turned up the pressure to full-court, and limited mistakes at a level rarely seen. Saginaw had just five turnovers and only nine fouls – and Rockford didn’t get to shoot a free throw.

Senior guard Travontis Richardson led the Trojans with 13 points and junior Julian Henderson had 12. But seven players scored at least four points and six grabbed at least six rebounds.

“We don’t have to have a big player. As long as we have parts to the team, they balance out the floor,” Gaines said. “We played D that they haven’t seen before, probably. We fought hard.”

So did Rockford, just to reach Breslin. Allen also was in his first season coaching after taking over for longtime coach Steve Majerle, who is battling Parkinson’s disease. The Rams entered the postseason unranked, but won seven games to finish 22-6.

Junior Chase Fairchild scored 14 points off the bench Saturday to lead the team for the second straight game. He’s one of seven juniors who won’t be nearly as big a surprise if they make a run again in 2013.

“No one expected us to go all the way to the state championship game,” Rockford junior guard Chad Carlson said. “We got here and played together as a team. It was a great season for us. We just couldn’t get it done.”

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

PHOTOS: (Top) Saginaw players embrace each other at midcourt after clinching the 2011-12 Class A championship. (Middle) Saginaw sophomore Joseph Williams-Powell (42) sends up a shot above the reach of Rockford senior Ivy Johnson. (See more at Terry McNamara Photography.)

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)