As Jamison Leads PHN's Win Chase, Stats Follow at Record-Setting Pace

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

January 12, 2022

There were plenty of factors surrounding Tyler Jamison’s recent record-breaking performance that made it special. 

The Port Huron Northern junior scored 47 points against Troy Athens on Dec. 30, breaking the school’s single-game record, previously held by Northern legend and Jamison family friend Joel Whymer. The game was part of the annual St. Clair County Community College Holiday Showcase, which Whymer’s late father, Jim, played a crucial role in starting.  

And all 47 points were absolutely necessary, as they came during a 60-57 win. 

“It’s amazing,” Jamison said. “The Whymer family, they’re awesome, top to bottom. I love them all. Mr. Whymer passing away (in September of 2020) was difficult for all of us. To do it like that in a close game that we won, and in that atmosphere at SC4, it was awesome.” 

As Jamison nears the midpoint of his junior season, he’s on pace to break more records at Northern and further cement his status as one of the program’s all-time greats. He’s averaging 30.7 points per game in leading the Huskies to a 4-3 start, which puts him on pace to break Whymer’s single-season points record of 623. Through Tuesday night’s win against Utica, Jamison has scored 834 career points, putting him on pace to surpass Whymer’s career total of 1,193, set in 2003. 

Collecting records isn’t Jamison’s focus, however. 

Port Huron Northern basketball“I’ve watched his highlights, and he was ridiculous,” Jamison said of Whymer. “I haven’t really thought about it like, ‘Oh, I gotta get this number.’ My goal is to go out and do what it takes to win. Obviously, everyone wants to hold a record, but I’m not going to be out there taking extra shots in garbage time. If it’s going to happen, I want it to happen naturally, because that’s what Joel was doing. He wasn’t chasing points, he was chasing wins.” 

Jamison was a varsity starter as a freshman, but he was surrounded by a veteran core that allowed him to ease into his role with the team. 

“More than the basketball aspect, those guys were just awesome,” he said. “Every freshman on varsity is going to have ups and downs, and after games, those guys were just awesome to me. It was kind of like a big brother thing. They still text me and ask me how the games are going. And from the basketball aspect of it, I always had guys to lean on.” 

In each of the past two seasons, Jamison’s role has grown. The 6-foot-5 guard became the team’s dominant ball-handler as a sophomore, and he’s proven he can do much more than score. He averaged 11.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game a year ago, and he’s once again pulling down nearly 10 rebounds per game this season. 

“The mindset is always to be the best basketball player that I can be,” Jamison said. “I don’t think about, ‘Well, my role is this.’ I was just kind of working to be the best basketball player that I can be -- getting shots up, lifting. I’ve been fortunate that I have a lot of good players around me.” 

His ability and production have caught the eyes of college scouts, and both Grand Valley State University and Saginaw Valley State University have offered him scholarships. 

“It’s been a dream of mine to play college basketball my entire life,” Jamison said. “I’ve been very grateful for all the coaches that have recruited me. It means a lot to me. But I still have a long way to go.” 

Port Huron Northern basketballAs Jamison climbs through the Northern record books, he’ll also put himself ahead of his uncles, Matt and Scott, who are among the program’s top all-time scorers. His father, Brian, has been the Northern coach for more than 20 years, and played on the 1990-91 Northern team that advanced to the Class A Quarterfinals – one of two teams in program history to do so.  

“I’ve been in this program since, I believe, 1987, and I know so many of the guys that have come through, and (Tyler’s) in that room,” Brian Jamison said. “There have been so many good players here, so many accomplished people. He fits that mold of a great player and a great kid, and that means a lot. It’s been great to see him come through.” 

Tyler said making his mark on the program he grew up with has been a dream come true. 

“Ever since I’ve been I don’t know how old, I’ve been sitting on the bench, dribbling around and getting everyone waters,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘I can’t wait until I’m out there. I can’t wait until I’m in the blue and gold.’ It’s something that I really wanted to do, and it’s been great to be able to play with my friends. A lot of the guys on the team, they live in our neighborhood.” 

His senior season could include playing with someone who grew up even closer – his younger brother Alex, who is in the eighth grade.  

“I think it would be fun,” Tyler said. “I love Alex, and he’s a really good player. I think if I get the opportunity to play with him next year, we’ll make the most of it.” 

While Brian Jamison stressed that Alex would have to earn the opportunity to play varsity as a freshman, he is on a path very similar to that of his older brother. Earlier this season, Alex set the Fort Gratiot Middle School record for points in a game at 53, edging his older brother by one. But Tyler is quick to point out one important difference in those games. 

“But my team won, and his lost,” Tyler said. “I still say that I have the important record because of that.” 

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) Port Huron Northern’s Tyler Jamison (32) makes a move toward the basket against Troy Athens on Dec. 30. (Middle) Jamison pulls up for a jumper over a pair of defenders. (Below) The Northern junior dunks for two of his 47 points. (Photos by John Bowns.)

Championship Experience from Coach's Point of View Unimaginable, Unforgettable

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

April 4, 2024

WYOMING – As the final buzzer sounded, it was all I could’ve imagined – and more.

West Michigan

In the weeks leading up to March 16 and the Division 4 championship game, I experienced every emotion possible as I envisioned what it would feel like to be an assistant coach on the bench at Michigan State’s Breslin Center as the Wyoming Tri-unity Christian boys basketball team achieved its ultimate goal.

In my first year as the junior varsity coach at Tri-unity, I had been on the varsity bench for a majority of the season, assisting legendary coach Mark Keeler and fellow assistants Brent Voorhees, Bob Przybysz and Mike Kaman.

I was there encouraging, motivating and supporting the varsity team. It was a role I embraced, and had become accustomed to over my almost 30 years coaching high school basketball.

I started coaching in 1995 as Jim Ringold gave me my first opportunity as the freshmen girls coach at Wyoming Kelloggsville High School. I would then coach Kelloggsville’s freshmen boys team for eight seasons, while also coaching the freshmen girls at Grandville High School. I would also coach the junior varsity teams at both schools.

I love coaching. I have a passion for it. I’ve always enjoyed getting the most out of my players while creating a bond between player and coach.

When girls basketball season moved from fall to winter joining the boys in 2007-08, I stayed at Grandville. I spent 21 seasons there before stepping down.

I still wanted to coach, and I heard that the Tri-unity junior varsity position was available. I had always respected and liked Keeler and was excited for the prospect of joining a perennial powerhouse.

I didn’t really know about Tri-unity growing up in the Wyoming Park school district. But as a young kid, I would rush home and eagerly await the afternoon delivery of the Grand Rapids Press. I would quickly find the sports page and read it from front to back, hoping one day to see my byline.

I began writing for the Press’ sports department in 1997. It was my dream job. And that’s also when I first started covering Tri-unity boys basketball.

I remember watching eventual NBA all-star Chris Kaman, along with Bryan Foltice and others play for this little Christian school and have unbridled success under Keeler.

MHSAA Tournament runs became the norm for the Defenders. They won their first Finals title in 1996, and they would claim four more over the next 26 years. They also had six runner-up finishes.

Tri-unity’s assistant coaches, including Holzwarth (second from right), monitor the action.I was sitting on media row writing for in 2022 when Brady Titus led Tri-unity to its fifth state championship.

I never thought that two years later I would be on the coaching staff as the Defenders pursued another one. But there I was.

I knew this year’s team had the potential to be special.

Tri-unity had returned four of its five starters from a year ago, after suffering a heart-breaking two-point loss to Munising in the Division 4 Final.

Eight seniors were on the roster. The team had a mix of talented guard play, senior leadership, size and depth. We had shooters and we played great defense, a trademark of Keeler’s teams.

This was the year, and that heaped lofty expectations on Keeler and the team. It was basically “state championship or bust.” Anything less would be considered a disappointment.

Keeler wanted it badly, and I knew the players did as well. I think they felt the pressure at times of living up to the expectations that had been set.

We had several lopsided wins, but also had a few tough losses to Division 2 and Division 3 teams – Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Wyoming Lee, Grandville Covenant Christian and Schoolcraft – all talented teams that I think made us better despite falling short.

As the postseason started, there was anxiety and excitement.

We were one of the favorites, but it wouldn’t be easy. We would have to earn each of the seven victories needed to win it all.

First came a District title, but then we had to play a quality Fowler team in its home gym in the Regional Semifinal. This was a game we knew would be a challenge – and it was.

We led by only one at halftime after a 7-0 run to end the second quarter. The score was tied 33-33 in the fourth quarter before senior Lincoln Eerdmans made a key 3-pointer to spark our victory.

As we went through the handshake line, several Fowler players said, “Good luck in the Finals.”

Our defense played extremely well in the Regional Final and state Quarterfinal to secure our team another trip to the Breslin.

St. Ignace was our opponent in the Semifinal, and we had to face a senior guard who could do it all – Jonny Ingalls. He lived up to the hype. He was good, and we didn’t have any answer for him in the first half. We trailed by one, only to fall behind by seven late in the third quarter.

Was this the end? Were we going to fall one game short of our goal?

Holzwarth and the coaching staff greet Keaton Blanker (4) as he comes off the floor. We were down by five points in the fourth quarter, but junior guard Keaton Blanker, and others, rose to the occasion. We rallied to win a tight one, and now we were one win away from a Division 4 title.

The night before the championship game, we stayed at a hotel in East Lansing as we had the first game of the day at 10 a.m. We had a team dinner, and the players seemed relaxed and eager to close out the season the way they had intended.

There was one thing that worried me. We were playing Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. A team we had played in the second game of the season and defeated by 30 points.

Would we be overconfident? I had no idea. They were a different team now, but so were we. Anything could happen.

Keeler gave a spirited and emotional pregame speech. In last year’s loss to Munising, he felt like the team played not to lose, and this season his big thing was “I want to win.” He said it to every starter that Saturday morning during the final moments in the locker room before tipoff, asking all five individually to say it back – which they did, the first one quietly but followed by teammates replying louder and louder as everyone got fired up and “I want to win” rang through the locker room. I think it inspired all of us.

After a competitive first quarter, we started to find our rhythm and expanded the lead. We were ahead by double-digits at the half, and a state title was within our grasp. Senior Wesley Kaman buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third quarter to give us a 20-point cushion. It was at that point I knew we were going to win.

All five starters reached double-figure scoring, led by Jordan VanKlompenberg with 19 points and Owen Rosendall with 14. That balance was intentional and a successful sign for our team all season.

The exhilaration of winning was intoxicating. I loved watching the boys celebrate something they had worked so hard to accomplish. I will never forget their faces. I looked to my right from my seat on the bench and watched them running onto the court, just wearing their joy. They were just elated.

I was so happy for Keeler, a devout Christian who is respected by so many people in high school basketball circles. I learned so much from him this season. The way he approaches each game, his competitiveness. He instills his strong faith in his players and understands that the game of basketball is a bridge to a higher purpose.

Keeler is the fourth-winningest coach in state boys basketball history with a record of 694-216, and will be the winningest active coach next winter as all-time leader Roy Johnston retired from Beaverton at the end of this season.

The tournament run was one of the best coaching experiences I have had, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of a state championship season.

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) The Wyoming Tri-unity Christian bench, including the author (far right) and head coach Mark Keeler (middle), celebrate a 3-pointer late in the Defenders’ Division 4 championship win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. (Middle) Tri-unity’s assistant coaches, including Holzwarth (second from right), monitor the action. (Below) Holzwarth and the coaching staff greet Keaton Blanker (4) as he comes off the floor. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)