Aaron Fernald isn’t going to complain about his Cass City boys basketball team’s 13-1 start.
He’s happy that his players are finding ways to win games against solid competition.
But, with six of those wins having been decided during the final seconds, he wouldn’t mind if his team didn’t make it so stressful.
“I think the kids get more confident as you win those games, but as a coach, I don’t know if I get more confident,” Fernald said with a laugh. “We do practice situations, we get the clock out, and we’ve been doing that almost every week since the beginning of the season. But I really don’t have a great answer on all of it.”
There may not be an answer to why it’s happening, but the results are eye-opening.
It started Dec. 13, when junior Carter Patrick hit a 3-pointer with just under four seconds to play, giving the Red Hawks a 45-42 win against Millington.
Late 3s to win games are fun, and when they happen in December are typically a footnote to a season, and not the start of a trend. This, however, was the latter.
On Dec. 20, Patrick again scored the go-ahead points with a pair of free throws in the final seconds of a 55-54 win against Saginaw Nouvel.
Patrick struck again Jan. 4, hitting a go-ahead basket with five seconds to play in a 51-50 win against Saginaw Valley Lutheran.
On Jan. 18, Mike Fernald hit a buzzer-beater after a save under the basket by Tyler Cumper in a 47-45 win against Caro.
Trent Patrick had the most dramatic one nine days later, on Jan. 27, when he hit a 3-pointer from just inside halfcourt to defeat Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 44-43.
Then Feb. 1, Carter Patrick again hit a game-winner, this time on a backdoor cut in the final seconds of a 46-45 victory against Bad Axe.
“I like to think it’s really good, because we’re figuring out how to win in key moments,” Carter Patrick said. “But we need to start getting a lead so we don’t have this pressure in games. I do think it’s preparing us for (the postseason) a lot, actually. If we get the ball at the end of a game, any game, I think the other team might get nervous themselves knowing that we’ve done this.”
Whether or not that’s the case, it’s pretty clear that Cass City won’t be nervous.
“The first couple, I was really nervous down the stretch,” Michael Fernald said. “A lot of other teammates were, too. But I think we’ve all got a lot more comfortable in those situations.”
Having three players who have scored game-winning baskets is a luxury for Cass City. But it goes well beyond that.
“We’ve got a team that kind of keeps hanging around and making a play,” Aaron Fernald said. “To get a buzzer-beater, we’ve had other guys not mentioned much that made plays to get us to that point. It’s kind of been a team effort that’s come from a lot of different people.”
Coming into the season, Aaron Fernald admitted he didn’t think this team could get to this point. He did think there would be improvement from recent years, however, as there were some key players back including Carter Patrick and Michael Fernald, who were each entering their third year on the varsity team.
Both of them, however, did think special things were on the horizon.
“This summer, I did,” Patrick said. “We were at team camp, and I thought this would be a better year for us. We had a really good chemistry, and we got along. We have a lot more fun together.”
That chemistry has been built over the course of several years, as many of the Red Hawks’ players have been playing together since they were kids.
The trust built through that, Patrick said, has helped in those clutch moments.
“We’ve all been friends for a really long time,” he said. “We’ve played a lot with each other, and I think we’ve gained a lot of trust. And if we miss the shot, nobody is going to get mad at each other.”
That group of friends has created some incredible memories already this season, the type that get talked about in town for years. But they’re looking for more – the type of memories that get put up on banners.
“It’s been special, but we haven’t really accomplished anything yet,” Michael Fernald said. “It would make it way more special if we can win some accolades along with it.”
Paul 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) Cass City’s Carter Patrick, right, looks for an open teammate during a matchup with Laker. (Middle) Michael Fernald brings the ball up court. (Below) Laker fans watch as Trent Patrick sends up his game-winning shot Jan. 27. (Photos by Tom Greene/Huron Daily Tribune.)
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.