D3 Preview: Repeat Faces Roadblocks

March 13, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

After making is first MHSAA championship game in boys basketball a year ago – and winning it – Detroit Edison is back at the Breslin Center seeking a repeat this weekend.

But the field lined up to halt the Pioneers is full of potential obstacles. Iron Mountain and Pewamo-Westphalia have not lost this season, and rarely been challenged. Erie Mason is having its best season ever and features one of the most productive scorers who will take the court at Michigan State University over the next three days.

Division 3 Semifinals – Thursday
Iron Mountain (26-0) vs. Detroit Edison (19-7), Noon

Erie-Mason (23-2) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (26-0), 2 p.m.

Division 3 Final – Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Divisions 3 and 2). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. The Divisions 2, 3 and 4 championship games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit’s primary channel, while the Division 1 Final will be shown live on Fox Sports Detroit PLUS. All four championship games will be streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)

18-8, unranked
League finish: Does not play in a conference.
Coach: Brandon Neely, sixth season (92-48)
Championship history: Class C champion 2018.
Best wins: 76-69 over No. 1 Flint Beecher in Quarterfinal, 77-68 over Division 2 No. 1 Benton Harbor, 69-66 over Division 1 No. 3 Canton.
Players to watch: Brian Taylor, 6-5 sr. F (16.6 ppg); Vincent Cooley, 6-2 jr. G (Statistics not submitted).
Outlook: Edison filled its regular-season schedule with larger and elite opponents, and its seven in-state losses all came to Division 1 or 2 teams, including four that made it to this week and two to this weekend (Detroit U-D Jesuit and Harper Woods Chandler Park). Taylor is the lone returning starter from last season’s championship game win, although current starters Cooley and junior forward Raynard Williams were among those on the bench. Taylor also is the only senior on the roster.

23-2, honorable mention
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Kevin Skaggs, eighth season (99-75)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-48 over No. 4 Hanover-Horton in Quarterfinal, 56-46 (District Final) and 64-44 over honorable mention Petersburg-Summerfield, 59-51 over Detroit Loyola in Regional Final.  
Players to watch: Joe Liedel, 5-10 jr. G (28 ppg, 81 3-pointers, 5.1 apg, 3.1 spg); John Sweeney, 6-7 sr. C (11.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 42 3-pointers).
Outlook: Erie-Mason will make its first Semifinal appearance after winning its first Regional title since 1973, and hasn’t lost since Dec. 11. Liedel has been one of the state’s most prolific scorers and went over 700 points for this season with 40 more Tuesday; he earned an all-state honorable mention a year ago. The Eagles beat another league champion, Riverview Gabriel Richard, in the Regional Semifinal. Senior Jake Trainor adds 12.5 ppg.

26-0, No. 3
League finish: First in Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Iron and Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Harvey Johnson Jr., 19th season (275-151)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1939).
Best wins: 61-56 over No. 7 Sanford Meridian in Quarterfinal, 66-52 over Traverse City St. Francis in Regional Final, 71-41 (District Final) and 78-71 (OT) over Calumet.
Players to watch: Marcus Johnson, 5-10 jr. G (23.3 ppg, 94 3-pointers, 4.6 apg); Foster Wonders, 6-5 soph. G (23.9 ppg, 55 3-pointers, 7.0 rpg).
Outlook: Iron Mountain advanced to the Quarterfinals for the second straight season and has moved on to its first Semifinal since 1994. Johnson – an all-state first-team selection last year – and Wonders make up what should be one of the most entertaining backcourts of the weekend. Both are hitting about 38 percent of their 3-point tries to lead a team that hadn’t played a single-digit game from Dec. 7 until Tuesday’s win over Meridian.

26-0, No. 2
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Luke Pohl, 22nd season (415-96)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 2014 and 1993.
Best wins: 70-50 over Cassopolis in Quarterfinal, 32-14 over Carson City-Crystal in District final, 50-32 over Morley Stanwood in District Semifinal, 57-54 (OT) over honorable mention Wyoming Potter’s House Christian, 52-35 over Division 4 No. 5 Wyoming Tri-unity Christian.
Players to watch: Andre Smith, 6-7 sr. C (14.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg); Hunter Hengesbach, 6-3 sr. G (8.5 ppg, 2.7 apg).
Outlook: P-W emerged from a league that produced two more District title winners to claim its fifth straight and return to the final week and weekend for the first time since finishing Class C runner-up in 2014. Four seniors anchor the starting lineup for a team with seven players averaging at least four points per game and three averaging at least a pair of assists. Only three wins were by fewer than 10 points, and all have been by double digits since Jan. 24.

PHOTO: Iron Mountain's Charlie Gerhard puts up a shot during his team's win over Ishpeming on Feb. 1. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

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

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)