Douglass Completes Climb for 1st Championship

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

April 10, 2021

EAST LANSING – Detroit Douglass senior guard Pierre Brooks II sought out his coach, who’s also his father, as the final seconds ticked away.

The pair shared an emotional embrace as they celebrated the program’s first state title with a 47-41 win over Wyoming Tri-unity Christian in Saturday’s Division 4 Final at the Breslin Center.

“This is the best feeling in the world, and especially winning a state championship with your dad,” Brooks II said. “It’s been a long road since my freshman year, and we used to butt heads a lot. Towards the end of my high school career we really started to click a lot more, especially with the pandemic.”

Brooks II, a Michigan State signee, recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to help lift the Hurricanes to the victory in their first Finals appearance.

He also added five assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

“I've never said this to him personally, but Pierre is the best player I've ever coached,” Douglass coach Pierre Brooks Sr. said. “I've been coaching for 22 years, and the work that he puts in on his own and the dedication he has to get better is amazing. I’ve never had a kid like him, and he just so happens to be my son, so this moment is really special for me.”

Douglass’ 6-foot-10 senior center, Javantae Randle, also played a pivotal role and produced a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“I didn’t take basketball seriously until I was in 10th grade, so I never thought I would be here,” Randle said. “I never thought we would win a state championship, so I’m going to remember this forever.”

Tri-unity was playing in its ninth Final, but came up short as runner-up for the fifth time.

The Defenders were searching for their first championship since 2011, but were unable to rally in the second half after a strong start.

Boys Basketball Division 4 FinalTri-unity played well early, and led 19-13 in the second quarter before the Hurricanes mounted a comeback.

Brooks II drained a deep 3-pointer during the closing seconds of the first half to cap a 9-0 run and give the Hurricanes a 22-19 lead at the half.

“That was huge,” Brooks Sr. said. “That gave us a little confidence, and I think it swung the momentum in our favor.”

The Hurricanes took control during the final minute of the third quarter.

Randle converted a three-point play, and then seconds later Brooks II stole the ball and threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk to make it 36-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

The lead swelled to double digits with six minutes remaining, but Tri-unity junior guard Brady Titus wouldn’t let his team go away quietly.

Titus, who had a game-high 21 points, kept the Defenders within striking distance, and teammate Owen Rosendall knocked down a 3-pointer with a minute left to make it 43-40.

“We told the guys it was going to be a game of runs, and Tri-unity always makes runs because they are a well-coached team,” Brooks Sr. said. “We had to keep focused, but Titus is a special player and he played a heck of a game.”

Tri-unity coach Mark Keeler had a game plan to try and contain Brooks II, who averaged more than 30 points per game this season.

“We threw the kitchen sink at him,” Keeler said. “We knew that Randle and Brooks were keys to their team, and we tried to make (Brooks) earn every point he got and I think we did a pretty good job of that for the most part.”

The Defenders shot only 33 percent from the field and 20 percent (5-25) from beyond the 3-point line.

“We had a bad start to the second half, and then we had to play catch-up,” Keeler said. “We didn’t take care of the ball at critical times and that cost us, but we were excited to be here and I’m proud of my team.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Douglass’ Pierre Brooks II (1) reaches high to grab a rebound during Saturday’s Division 4 Final at Breslin Center. (Middle) Douglass’ Damonn Tiggs (3) makes a move toward the lane with Tri-unity’s Brady Titus defending. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

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.)