By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
March Magic Hoopfest will return to Jenison Field House for this weekend’s Michigan High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Finals, marking the eighth championship weekend the event has run concurrent with the games being played at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
A number of favorite attractions will return including slam dunk (on lowered rims), 3-point shootout and half-court shot areas where fans can come at any time and participate, and the festivities also will include a court for timed “Around the World” shooting games and another court featuring the Michigan Army National Guard skills challenge. Also returning is the Walk of History, showcasing championship games, life-size photos and display boards from throughout the MHSAA Finals’ near century-long run.
Two Hoopfest center courts will host a number of games throughout the event, including the “JumpBall Jamboree” made up of teams of boys and girls in grades 3-8, and a series of games between Special Olympics Project UNIFY high school teams.
Admission to the March Magic Hoopfest is $2 per person, and fans attending the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals and Finals will be admitted free with their game tickets. Hours on March 23 and 24 will be 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the event is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 25. Jenison Field House, site of Hoopfest, also was the site of the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals for 31 years. To find out more general information about the event, visit the March Magic Hoopfest Website.
Hoopfest also will be home to Hoopie, the event’s mascot who made his first public appearances during the 2014 MHSAA Finals.
The March Magic Hoopfest is being conducted in partnership between the Greater Lansing Sports Authority (GLSA), a division of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the MHSAA, with vital support coming from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at Michigan State University.
“For more than 90 years, basketball teams have ended their seasons at the MHSAA Tournament, and Hoopfest allows fans to share first-hand in the atmosphere that has made this such a historic event,” MHSAA Director of Brand Management Andy Frushour said. “It’s a great stop-over for our fans coming to or leaving the Breslin Center, and it’s also a great place to bring the family for some fun even for those who won’t be attending this weekend’s Finals.”
The Greater Lansing Sports Authority’s mission is to be the leading voice of sports tourism in the Greater Lansing area and to promote economic growth by attracting a diverse range of sporting events to the region. The GLSA strives to enhance the quality of life for area residents through the development of local sports and fitness programs for all ages and supports the continued development and maintenance of safe, high-quality athletic facilities.
“The March Magic Hoopfest sets off a great weekend of MHSAA tournament games and helps create a multi-day event which will involve the Lansing area and thousands of visitors from across the state,” said Mike Price, Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Sports Authority. “If you’re coming to the championships, Hoopfest is a destination to visit before and after the games; and if you’re not coming to the games, Hoopfest is a fun, wholesome, inexpensive, family activity.”
PHOTO: Hoopie entertains the crowd during the 2014 MHSAA Finals.
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)