D4 Preview: Contenders Closing In On Completing Championship Chase

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 23, 2022

It will be the first time, first time in a long time, or first time in at least a while for whichever Division 4 boys basketball contender emerges as champion this weekend at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.

Ewen-Trout Creek is seeking its first Finals championship since 1972, and Lake Leelanau St. Mary and Genesee Christian are pursuing a first title in program history.

Even Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, one of the more frequent travelers to Breslin for Finals weekend, is seeking its first championship in more than a decade.

DIVISON 4 Semifinals – Thursday
Ewen-Trout Creek (22-3) vs. Lake Leelanau St. Mary (21-4), 5:30 p.m.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (19-6) vs. Genesee Christian (21-4), 7:30 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday – 
10 a.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 4 semifinals (with rankings by MPR at the end of the regular season, and statistics through Regional Finals):

Record/rank: 22-3, No. 2
League finish: First in Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain
Coach: Brad Besonen, 14th season (227-87)
Championship history: Class D champion 1972, runner-up 1982.
Best wins: 56-40 over No. 5 Rudyard in Quarterfinal, 56-44 over No. 4 Powers North Central in Regional Final, 57-38 (Regional Semifinal), 77-62 and 79-59 over No. 14 Wakefield-Marenisco; 59-58 (OT) over Division 3 No. 1 Menominee, 39-37 over Division 3 No. 20 Painesdale Jeffers.
Players to watch: Jaden Borseth, 6-4 sr. F (18.8 ppg, 43 3-pointers, 4.0 apg); Eric Abramson, 6-5 sr. F (13.7 ppg, 44 3-pointers); Kelsey Jilek, 6-4 sr. F (10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg).
Outlook: Ewen-Trout Creek is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since that 1982 runner-up run, and has won 13 of its last 14 games on the way. The Panthers didn’t allow more than 40 points in 12 games – with 44 the most scored against them during the postseason. Borseth made the all-state first team last season. Senior 6-3 center Brendan Polkky adds another 9.7 points per game.

Record/rank: 21-4, No. 6
League finish: Tied for second in Genesee Area Conference Red
Coach: Dan Chapman, 16th season (195-148)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 77-66 over No. 10 Southfield Christian in Quarterfinal, 59-46 over No. 12 Ubly in Regional Semifinal, 80-63 over Adrian Lenawee Christian, 55-50 over No. 13 Clarkston Everest Collegiate, 69-60 over No. 19 Webberville, 75-65 over Lake Fenton, 70-62 over Flint Hamady.  
Players to watch: Trenton Boike, 5-10 jr. G (23.3 ppg, 44 3-pointers, 5.6 apg); Tyler Chapman, 6-1 jr G (20 ppg, 82 3-pointers, 5.7 rpg). (Statistics include Quarterfinal.)
Outlook: Genesee Christian will make its first trip to the Semifinals led by Boike, who made the all-state first team as a sophomore. The Soldiers have won 11 straight games, with all four losses to larger opponents including two to Division 3 reigning champion Beecher. They could be building for another big run next season as well, as only two starters and three of their top nine players are seniors. Sophomore forward Jonah Derderian adds another 6.9 points per game.

Record/rank: 21-4, No. 9
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Matt Barnowski, second season (35-9)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 61-57 over No. 3 McBain Northern Michigan Christian in Regional Final, 61-44 (Regional Semifinal) and 71-63 over Ellsworth, 68-64 (District Final) and 66-52 over No. 17 Buckley, 84-69 (District Semifinal), 47-46 and 65-45 over Traverse City Christian, 60-46 over Flat Rock.
Players to watch: Dylan Barnowski, 6-1 jr. G (21.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 7.1 apg); Shawn Bramer, 6-2 jr. F (20.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg); August Schaub, 6-1 sr. F (13.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.0 apg).
Outlook: After winning its first Regional title since 1950, St. Mary is making its first trip to the Semifinals. The Eagles started the season 2-3 but have lost only once since, to Division 3 Benzie Central (20-4). St. Mary is allowing opponents to make only 38 percent of their shots, and just under 28 percent from 3-point range. Dylan Barnowski and Bramer both earned all-state honorable mentions last season, and the future looks bright as well as they are joined by only one senior starter.

Record/rank: 19-6, No. 30
League finish: First in Alliance League
Coach: Mark Keeler, 35th season (647-204)
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2011), five runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 69-57 over Adrian Lenawee Christian in Quarterfinal, 57-40 over No. 1 New Buffalo in Regional Final, 55-36 over Wyoming Potter’s House Christian.
Players to watch: Brady Titus, 5-9 sr. G (29.8 ppg, 4.0 apg); Jordan VanKlompenberg, 6-1 soph. G (7.4 ppg); Owen Rosendall, 5-10 soph. G (6.0 ppg). Outlook: Tri-unity is headed back to Breslin for the fourth season over the last seven and after reaching last year’s Final and falling 47-41 to Detroit Douglass. Titus leads the way again, upping his scoring average another eight points this season after making the all-state first team last year. Senior Aidan DeKlyen also is back in the starting lineup, and Rosendall was the top sub during last year’s championship game. Junior 6-5 center Hanif James adds 5.8 points and 6.3 rebounds, and Titus, VanKlompenberg and Rosendall all had connected on at least 36 3-pointers entering the week.

PHOTO Ewen-Trout Creek's Eric Abramson (11) makes a basket during the third quarter of last week’s Regional Final win over Powers North Central. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

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