The final four teams playing in this weekend’s Division 1 boys basketball bracket at Breslin Center have certainly earned the memorable opportunity ahead.
The Detroit Catholic League Central saw all five of its teams finishing among the top six in Division 1 Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) – and No. 6 Warren De La Salle Collegiate has outlasted the rest. The I-75 corridor as always was impressive this winter – and reigning champion Grand Blanc is back.
Grand Rapids Northview has become one of the stories of the season as it’s emerged from a growing number of annual Division 1 contenders from the west side of the Lower Peninsula. And Belleville could become the headliner this weekend after emerging from a bracket that originally included the best from the Detroit Public School League and the southeastern part of the state.
DIVISON 1 Semifinals – Thursday
Warren De La Salle Collegiate (18-7) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (25-1), noon
Grand Blanc (20-5) vs. Belleville (19-6), 2 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday – 12:15 p.m.
Tickets for this weekend’s games are $12 for both Semifinals and Finals and are available via the Breslin Center ticket office. All Semifinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription to MHSAA.tv, and all four Finals will air live Saturday on Bally Sports Detroit, with the Division 4 and 1 games on BSD EXTRA and the Division 3 and 2 games on BSD’s primary channel. All four will be broadcast live as well as on the BSD website and app. Audio broadcasts of all Semifinals and Finals will be available free of charge from the MHSAA Network.
Here’s a look at the four Division 1 semifinals (with rankings by MPR at the end of the regular season, and statistics through Regional Finals):
Record/rank: 19-6, No. 44
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association East
Coach: Adam Trumpour, ninth season (148-52)
Championship history: Class A runner-up 1998.
Best wins: 47-45 over No. 10 Detroit Cass Tech in Quarterfinal, 59-48 over Romulus in Regional Final, 50-47 (OT) over Ann Arbor Skyline in Regional Semifinal, 38-37, 62-45 and 63-43 over Dearborn.
Players to watch: Da’Jon Johnson, 5-10 sr. G (12.1 ppg, 3.0 apg); Mario Johnson, 6-4 sr. G (10 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.8 apg); Bryce Radtka, 6-8 sr. C (10.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg).
Outlook: The Tigers are headed back to the Semifinals for the first time since 2002, having won nine of their last 10 games and with five of their losses by a combined 11 points. Four seniors start, joined by sophomore guard Jalen Jenkins, another contributor to the balanced attack with 10 points per game. Trumpour, who assisted on the staff that guided Romulus to the 2013 Class A title, has led Belleville to District titles four of the last six seasons (not including COVID-abbreviated 2019-20) and also brought the Tigers to the Quarterfinals in 2017-18.
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 8
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Coach: Mike Thomas, fifth season (88-22)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2021, Class B runner-up 1952.
Best wins: 67-60 over No. 4 Detroit Catholic Central in Quarterfinal, 65-58 (Regional Semifinal) and 64-63 over Flint Carman-Ainsworth, 80-62 over No. 20 River Rouge, 70-66 (OT) over Division 2 No. 4 Ferndale, 68-57 over Division 3 No. 2 Flint Beecher.
Players to watch: RJ Taylor, 6-0 jr. G (16.8 ppg, 51 3-pointers, 4.3 apg); Amont’e Allen-Johnson, 6-1 jr. G (13.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.2 apg); Tae Boyd, 6-3 jr. G (13.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg).
Outlook: The reigning Division 1 champ kicked off this season against some of the best teams in the state, and started 1-3 – but after catching their stride, the Bobcats have been nearly unbeatable. Grand Blanc is up to 18 wins over its last 19 games, and the defeats have no doubt been beneficial to this run too coming against Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Detroit Martin Luther King and Muskegon. Something else to keep in mind: No seniors start, and eight of the team’s top nine rotation players should be back next season. Taylor made the all-state first team in 2021.
GRAND RAPIDS NORTHVIEW
Record/rank: 25-1, No. 24
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Coach: David Chana, third season (47-15)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 54-52 over Kalamazoo Central in Quarterfinal, 68-55 over No. 9 Muskegon in Regional Semifinal, 71-48 over No. 17 Rockford in District Final, 68-64 (OT) over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 64-51 over Grand Rapids Christian.
Players to watch: Kyler Vanderjagt, 6-4 sr. G (22.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg); Jalen Charity, 6-6 sr. G (13 ppg, 6.0 rpg); EJ Ryans, 6-3 soph. G (10.4 ppg, 3.3 apg).
Outlook: Northview’s buzzer-beating win over Kalamazoo Central on Tuesday added to the excitement of a run that’s landed the Wildcats in their first Semifinal since 1990. Aside from an eight-point loss to Grand Rapids Christian at the start of February, Northview is undefeated and has pulled out four victories by five points or fewer. Vanderjagt made the all-state first team last season when Northview finished 8-6, and he’s nearly equaled his scoring average from last year this winter; he will continue his career at Belmont in Tennessee. Senior guard Grant George adds 7.7 points per game off the bench.
WARREN DE LA SALLE COLLEGIATE
Record/rank: 18-7, No. 6
League finish: Fourth in the Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Gjon Djokaj, second season (31-11)
Championship history: Class B runner-up 1982.
Best wins: 50-48 over No. 2 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Quarterfinal, 68-33 over No. 11 Canton, 49-46 over No. 1 Detroit U-D Jesuit, 59-54 over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 73-51 over No. 4 Detroit Catholic Central, 91-49 over Detroit Western, 57-44 over Coldwater, 76-69 (2OT) over Division 2 No. 4 Ferndale.
Players to watch: Tamario Adley, 6-3 sr. G (11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg); Michael Sulaka, 6-8 jr. F (10.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Nino Smith, 6-0 jr. G (10 ppg, 4.3 apg).
Outlook: With Tuesday’s win over St. Mary’s, De La Salle had earned a victory this season over every other highly-ranked Catholic League Central team. Defeating the Eaglets sent the Pilots back to the Semifinals for the second season in a row and third time in four seasons (not counting COVID-abbreviated 2020). Six players average at least eight points per game, and five had made 16 or more 3-pointers entering the week. Four starters are back from last season’s Semifinal team that lost 55-39 to Ann Arbor Huron, and three starters plus top-scoring sub freshman Pheonix Glassnor (8.0 ppg) should return next winter as well. Junior Triston Nichols (8.8 ppg) and senior Caleb Reese (8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg) also start.
PHOTO Grand Rapids Northview’s EJ Ryans (5) lays up a shot during his team’s Regional Semifinal win over Muskegon. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
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.