Douglass Takes Next Step in Earning 1st Finals Trip

By Steve Vedder
Special for

April 8, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS – Despite playing an undermanned opponent in Thursday's Division 4 Semifinal at Van Andel Arena, Detroit Douglass still couldn't afford to look at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart as anything but dangerous.

Which is why the Hurricanes will be playing in Saturday's Final after outlasting the Irish 60-41 in a strange matchup.

Sacred Heart had only five healthy players after three tested positive for COVID. While the numbers should have given Douglass a distinct advantage, Hurricanes coach Pierre Brooks Sr. said his players couldn't afford a mental letdown.

"We knew they only had five players (and) I've been there before," Brooks said. "They were somewhat desperate, they knew they had nothing to lose and played with a chip on their shoulder. You can't underestimate the five players who are playing."

Sacred Heart first-year coach Justin Sherlock, whose team saw its 12-game winning streak snapped, said the program played most of the season with eight players, not counting two who were brought up from the junior varsity. The Irish lost the three players to testing earlier this week, with the only good news being the remaining players constituted much of the normal starting lineup.

The result, as least early in the contest, was surprising as the Irish jumped to an early 9-8 lead with a minute and a half left in the opening quarter. But the Hurricanes' defense took over from there in allowing only three second-quarter points as Douglass built a 25-12 halftime lead.

"We played as hard as we could for 32 minutes and did all we could do," Sherlock said. "I felt like we were clicking. We've got two excellent seniors who have played a lot of basketball. We said if we could stay healthy, we could make a run."

2021 D4 Boys Basketball Semifinal - Detroit Douglass

The win sends Douglass (16-5) into Saturday's 10 a.m. championship game against Wyoming Tri-unity Christian at the Breslin Center. The Irish finished 20-2.

Douglass senior guard Pierre Brooks II, who finished Thursday with 30 points and 10 rebounds, said the difference in beating a shorthanded Irish team came down to defense.

"We stepped up in the second quarter," he said. "We locked them down and made sure we made our shots around the basket."

The Irish got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Javantae Randle. Damonn Tiggs had six points, six rebounds and two assists. Tiggs said defense will again be a priority in the Final against Tri-unity, which will be playing in its ninth championship game.

"We need to build on our defense," he said. "Saturday is for everything, everything will be on the line. We need to play our hearts out."

Sacred Heart got 15 points, four assists, three steals and four rebounds from senior guard Zach Wentworth. Senior Luke Predum had 13 points, and freshman Aidan Halliday 11 points.

Brooks Sr. said Sacred Heart deserves credit for sticking around for much of the game.

"They played hard and never gave up," he said. "I told our guys toward the end they'd have a spark. But I was proud of our guys."

Click for full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Pierre Brooks II (1) works to get into the lane during Thursday's Division 4 Semifinal against Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, with Zach Wentworth (5) defending. (Middle) The Hurricanes' Damonn Tiggs looks to the post. (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.)