Consortium Closes In on Fantastic Finish

March 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – The memory of coach Al Anderson is not far from Detroit Consortium as it attempts to win its first MHSAA boys basketball championship this weekend.

The Cougars just missed making it to Breslin Center in 2013, falling to eventual Class C champion Flint Beecher by two in their Quarterfinal. But Consortium is now one more win from finishing the quest it began when Anderson died unexpectedly last February.

Three players scored 18 or more points as the Cougars downed Negaunee 69-54 in Thursday’s Semifinal to advance to Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. championship game against Pewamo-Westphalia.

Consortium, ranked No. 2 at the end of the regular season, has now beaten the rest of the top three this week, having downed top-ranked Mount Clemens on Tuesday before eliminating the No. 3 Miners.

“We knew we had to win for (Anderson last year). We came back playing harder, with more intensity, just playing as a team,” Consortium senior Ronald Booth said. “We were heart-broken last year not getting it done. But we’re here this year, and we plan on finishing it.”

“We’ve been fighting for this state championship for the last four years,” senior Malik Dawson added, “and we’re going to win it.”

Although Consortium (24-2) is playing in its first MHSAA Final on Saturday, the Semifinal was its second in four seasons and followed its third Quarterfinal over the last four years.

Former Deaborn Edsel Ford standout Tobias Tuomi took over the Consortium program this winter and inherited not only arguably the state’s best player – 6-foot-8 sophomore wing Joshua Jackson – but a group of scorers around him that have made the Cougars even tougher to stop.

Jackson had 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and five steals Thursday. But sophomore guard Luster Johnson added 20 points and senior Rudy Smith scored a game-high 22 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“We needed to really keep the other guys down. You look at Rudy Smith, Luster Johnson, that killed us,” Negaunee coach Michael O’Donnell said. “We needed to keep everybody else (but Jackson) under 10. When they got up to 20 plus, that was a big hurt for us.”

Consortium led only 12-11 after the first quarter. But the Cougars turned that lead into nine points halfway through the second quarter and 14 by halftime.

They shot 54 percent from the floor for the game, with an incredible 65 percent success rate during the second half.

It matched with what Consortium has done all season. Booth, Smith and Johnson also average at least 10 points per game, and eight players have had high games of at least that many points.

“We’ve had six or seven guys all year, pretty consistently,” Tuomi said of his team’s scoring balance. “Josh will be up there as one of our leading scorers, but we’ve got seven or eight really talented guys, and all of them have had a game where they’ve been the leading or second-leading scorers. It’s something you expect.”

Negaunee (24-2) has been a picture of consistency as well over the last four seasons, making the Quarterfinals at the end of all of them and the Semifinals the last two.

Senior guard Tyler Jandron was a constant on those teams and finished his four-year varsity career with 12 points. Senior Eric Lori, another top scorer on the last couple Miners teams, had 11 points. Sophomore forward Jay Lori led with 14 points and seven rebounds.

“We started something. Just getting here, making it twice, is unbelievable,” Jandron said. “But it’s tough losing this. I want to push myself to the limit, and tonight we came up short.

“We talked to our underclassmen about what these seniors did for us, and we’re going to miss them,” O’Donnell added. “At the same time, we wanted to take the time to thank them and make sure they understand we appreciate what they did for us.”

Click for the full box score and video from the press conference

PHOTO: (Top) Detroit Consortium’s Joshua Jackson (11) dunks as Negaunee’s Robert Loy gives chase Thursday. (Middle) Negaunee's Tyler Jandron looks for an opening while defended by Consortium's Rudy Smith.

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Joshua Jackson blocks the shot, Detroit Consortium goes on the fast break and Kenneth Turner lobs to Jackson for the dunk to finish the play late in the first half. (2) Jay Lori of Negaunee takes a pass from Zane Radloff and powers to the basket for two to pull the Miners to within a point at the end of the first quarter.

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.)