Glen Lake Dials Up Winning Number

March 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – The numbers may not lie, as the saying goes. But sometimes they tell an unexpected story.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central entered Thursday’s Class C Semifinal undefeated, and then made 52 percent of its shots from the floor.

But Maple City Glen Lake will play for its first MHSAA boys basketball championship since 1977 thanks to one other number in particular – the powerful 3.

The Lakers made 10 3-pointers – and three players combined to score all of their points – as they handed St. Mary its first and only loss, 62-56 at the Breslin Center.

The numbers nearly caught up to Glen Lake. After leading by as many as 13, the Lakers saw their advantage dwindle to two with two minutes to play. But junior guard Xander Okerlund scored four of his game-high 23 points to close out the historic victory.

“The way we looked at it is (it’s) another good basketball team that knows what they’re doing,” Glen Lake senior forward Cade Peterson said. “We expected coming into the game that they were going to make their runs. We were going to make our runs. What I love about this team is just we bounce back no matter what. Even after our two (regular-season) losses to a really good Buckley team, we come back, we just keep on going. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

Glen Lake (24-2) earned its first championship game appearance since 1996 and will take on Detroit Edison in Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. Final.

The Lakers’ first four baskets Thursday were 3-pointers. They made 10 of 22 from beyond the arc – 46 percent of their tries, better than the 42 percent they shot from the field overall.

“I thought we did a nice job of not forcing them. We didn’t want to come out and start firing them,” Glen Lake coach Rich Ruelas said of the long-range shots. “Our big thing is inside-out – let’s get touches inside, and once they collapse, let’s open it up. We have guys who can absolutely knock them down … but we wanted to really make that defense work.

“We didn’t always take the greatest shots. But for the most part, we did.”

Monroe St. Mary (25-1) also plays inside-out, and had plenty of success inside. Senior 6-foot-8 forward C.J. Haut made 7 of 12 shots for 15 points as St. Mary scored 32 total in the paint, compared to Glen Lake’s 12.

Junior guard Hunter Kegley added 13 points, and senior guard Mitchell Sherrard and junior forward Tyler Welch both had 10 points.

But the Falcons had a hard time containing Glen Lake’s big three. In addition to Okerlund’s 23 points, Peterson finished with 20 and sophomore guard Reese Hazelton had 19.

The 62 points were the second-most St. Mary had given up this season – opponents had averaged only 40.4 points per game against the Falcons heading into this weekend.

“We got a lot of good shots. I just felt like early we gave up too many 3s,” St. Mary coach Randy Windham said. “We let them be a little comfortable. I just felt that they settled in, and when teams settle in and get their feet under them – our whole thing is to make them uncomfortable, get them off their spot.”

This was St. Mary’s second Semifinal – its first was in 2013 – and the Falcons took the next step after falling in the Quarterfinal a year ago.

“This final game doesn’t define us as people. We still had a really rewarding season,” Haut said. “We were 25-0 coming into this game, and we were undefeated in our league. We were ranked number one in the state for a long time. I don’t think this game has anything to do with the success of our season. We were still very successful.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Maple City Glen Lake’s Reece Hazelton launches a 3-pointer Thursday at the Breslin Center. (Middle) Monroe St. Mary’s Mitchell Sherrard works to get a shot around Glen Lake’s Cade Peterson.

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.