Flint Beecher is one of three 2021 champions returning to the Boys Basketball Finals this weekend, and the Bucs are among the most frequent visitors to Breslin Center with Thursday’s to be their eighth Semifinal appearance over the last 13 years.
That’s a pretty imposing opener for describing any bracket. But this one could be especially loaded with Schoolcraft also making a return trip and Menominee and Ecorse showing strong credentials all season long.
DIVISON 3 Semifinals – Thursday
Menominee (22-3) vs. Ecorse (9-12), Noon
Schoolcraft (23-2) vs. Flint Beecher (22-2), 2 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday – 4:30 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 3 semifinals (with rankings by MPR at the end of the regular season, and statistics through Regional Finals):
Record/rank: 9-12, No. 148
League finish: Fourth in Michigan Metro Athletic Conference Black
Coach: Gerrod Abram, third season (39-20)
Championship history: Class B runner-up 1978, Class B Lower Peninsula runner-up 1942.
Best wins: 49-47 over Erie Mason in Regional Final, 73-71 over Riverview Gabriel Richard in District Semifinal.
Players to watch: Malik Olafioye, 6-2 jr. G; Kenneth Morrast Jr., 6-1 jr. G. (Statistics not provided.)
Outlook: Ecorse is headed to the Semifinals for the first time since 1980. It’s important to note the team’s MPR would have been much higher without 10 forfeits over the first two months of the regular season; the Raiders instead would be 16-5. And they’ve appeared to be Division 3 contenders from the start, with since-forfeited wins over Division 1 Brownstown Woodhaven (19-5) and Division 2 River Rouge (17-4). The District win over Gabriel Richard was the Pioneers’ only loss of the season. This group should continue to be strong; only one senior starts and there are only two seniors total on a roster that includes four sophomores and a freshman.
Record/rank: 22-2, No. 2
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Red
Coach: Marquise Gray, first season (22-2)
Championship history: Nine MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 72-41 over No. 5 Reese in District Final, 84-68 over Division 2 No. 12 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 75-69 over Division 2 No. 6 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 63-60 over Flint Carman-Ainsworth.
Players to watch: Carmelo Harris, 6-0 sr. G; James Cummings II, 6-3 sr. F. (Statistics not provided.)
Outlook: The Bucs returned to win last season’s championship, their first since 2017, and have lost only to Division 1 Grand Blanc (20-5) and Detroit Martin Luther King (19-3) this winter while handing reigning Division 2 champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central (24-1) its lone defeat. Gray memorably starred at Beecher and Michigan State and played overseas before returning and serving as an assistant coach in advance of taking over the program. Harris and Cummings started on last season’s team, and 6-3 junior Robert Lee II was the only sub who saw more than two minutes of time in last year’s Final. Harris also is a returning all-state first-teamer.
Record/rank: 22-3, No. 1
League finish: First in Great Northern Conference
Coach: Sam Larson, fifth season (48-51)
Championship history: Class B champion 1967
Best wins: 60-56 (2OT) over No. 19 Benzie Central in Regional Final, 74-57 over Ishpeming Westwood in Regional Semifinal, 83-45 over Iron Mountain in District Final, 77-44 and 65-62 over Division 2 No. 1 Escanaba, 51-26 and 72-40 over Division 4 No. 4 Powers North Central.
Players to watch: Aidan Bellisle, 6-2 sr. G (15.4 ppg, 4.8 apg); Cooper Conway, 6-4 sr. F (12.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg); Brady Schultz, 6-6 sr. F (12 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg).
Outlook: The Maroons have improved from 4-17 just three seasons ago to making the Semifinals for the first time since 2008. The only two in-state losses this winter came over the last five weeks, to Escanaba in the teams’ third meeting of the season (after Menominee won the first two, and by a point to Division 4 semifinalist Ewen-Trout Creek. Five seniors start, with three sophomores playing the most prominent roles off the bench. Larson was a sophomore on the 2008 team that lost to Lansing Catholic in Class B at Breslin.
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 6
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley
Coach: Randy Small, 17th season (329-67)
Championship history: Class C champion 2011, runner-up 2009.
Best wins: 60-57 (Quarterfinal) and 61-32 over No. 17 Pewamo-Westphalia, 45-31 over No. 14 Watervliet in Regional Final, 59-31 (District Final), 51-40 and 54-41 over No. 18 Kalamazoo Christian, 49-45 over Division 2 No. 5 Parchment.
Players to watch: Tyler DeGroote, 6-7 sr. F (16.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg); Shane Rykse, 6-3 soph. G (13.1 ppg, 53 3-pointers); Ty Rykse, 6-7 sr. F (12.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.3 apg).
Outlook: Schoolcraft is making a repeat appearance at Breslin and fell by just four in overtime in last season’s Semifinal against Iron Mountain. The Golden Eagles are a combined 63-4 over the last three seasons. DeGroote and Shane Rykse were main contributors last season as well – DeGroote earned an all-state honorable mention – and Ty Rykse also started in the Semifinal. The defeats this season came to Division 1 Hudsonville and Parchment, and Schoolcraft avenged the latter. Senior point guard Asher Puhalski adds another 7.2 points, four rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
PHOTO Flint Beecher’s Keyonta Menifield goes to the basket during Tuesday’s Quarterfinal win over New Haven. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
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.