De La Salle Continues Championship Year with 1st Hoops Title

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 26, 2022

EAST LANSING – Triston Nichols has had quite the high school sports season so far.

The Warren De La Salle Collegiate junior standout helped the football team win a Finals championship in the fall and then helped deliver the same result on the hardwood four months later.

The Pilots pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat 2021 champion Grand Blanc 67-58 in Saturday’s Division 1 title game at the Breslin Center.  

It was De La Salle’s first Finals basketball title. The Pilots finished Class B runners-up in 1982. 

“I actually brought (my football championship ring) with me, and I think it’s my good luck charm,” said Nichols, who had 17 points, including two timely 3-pointers in the second half, and five rebounds. 

De La Salle/Grand Blanc basketball“It was definitely harder to win this one than football, and we went through adversity and we just did our job throughout the season. We locked in, and our connection got better and better.”

While there were high expectations that the football team could win a championship in the fall, duplicating that feat in basketball seemed unlikely after De La Salle finished fourth in the Detroit Catholic League Central and lost four of its last six games in the regular season.

Pilots’ junior Nino Smith, who led a balanced scoring attack with 18 points, said the rigors of their league helped prepare them for this historic run.

“Earlier in the season we went to double overtime against (Orchard Lake) St. Mary’s and showed a lot of resiliency even though we came up short,” Smith said. “A lot of games in the Catholic League came down to last possessions, so I think that really helped us.”

De La Salle (19-7) led 27-24 at the half, but watched its lead evaporate as Grand Blanc pulled away with a 14-4 surge and went up 38-31 midway through the third quarter.

The Pilots countered with a 10-0 run to regain the lead as senior Tamario Adley converted back-to-back three-point plays during that stretch.

Adley finished with 12 points and was 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

“The kids were able to fight through adversity and it’s in their mental make-up to continue to fight, and the last few comebacks have gone our way,” De La Salle coach Gjon Djokaj said.

The Pilots held a slim 42-40 lead entering the final quarter, but never relinquished it thanks to several clutch plays and made free throws.

“We made winning plays down the stretch, and I thought overall we got contributions from a lot of different players at different times,” Djokaj said. “That’s what we’ve been built on all season long, and I’m happy to be going out with a state championship and the way we got here.”

De La Salle/Grand Blanc basketballJunior guard RJ Taylor kept the Bearcats (21-5) within striking distance in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 28 points and seven 3-pointers.

“He's a heck of a player and made it tough on us,” Djokaj said. “He made individual-effort plays that I haven't seen in a while from one player. He should hold his head up high for the way he competed and carried his team.”

Tae Boyd added 14 points and eight rebounds for Grand Blanc, which won its first Finals basketball title a year ago. 

“This was an unbelievable run, and everybody counted this team out from the beginning of the year. Nobody believed in this team,” Grand Blanc coach Mike Thomas said. “I take my hat off because they were out there fighting for themselves, and I take my hat off to Warren De La Salle too, and their student section. That was an unbelievable crowd to where I think that was a really great advantage for them, and they created a lot of emotion and momentum.

“They deserved to win. They outplayed us and outworked us and made more free throws in the end.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Warren De La Salle players raise their championship trophy Saturday at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Pilots’ Michael Sulaka (33) attempts to redirect a shot by Grand Blanc’s Tae Boyd (1). (Below) De La Salle’s Nino Smith (0) is defended by the Bobcats’ RJ Taylor (10). Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Clarkston's Loyer Leaves All-Time Legacy with 25 Record Book Listings

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 22, 2023

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.

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.