As Jets Pursue, Chassell Star Recalls Record

January 19, 2017

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

ESCANABA – Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States when Chassell High School established a record that has spanned 10 presidencies.

Now another Upper Peninsula school, Powers North Central, is poised to surpass that cherished standard, just a week into the term of a new president, Donald Trump.

Chassell reeled off 65 straight victories from Feb. 1, 1956, to Nov. 23, 1958. North Central (9-0) has 64 consecutive wins, a streak that began Dec. 8, 2014. The Jets will try to equal the record Tuesday when they host Rock Mid Peninsula, then the record-setter would come Friday when they host neighboring Bark River-Harris (9-1) in a game that will be broadcast live on

Flint Northwestern is the only school to challenge Chassell’s hallowed mark, winning 60 in a row before losing Feb. 10, 1986. Chassell eclipsed the state record of another U.P. school, 59 straight by Mass-Greenland from Dec. 12, 1946, to Jan. 28, 1949.

Chassell was the first U.P. school to bring an MHSAA championship trophy across the Mackinac Bridge, in 1958, shortly after it opened to traffic.

North Central is located in northern Menominee County, just six miles north of Carney-Nadeau High School, which owns the state girls basketball consecutive win record of 78 games (1989-91).

North Central coach Adam Mercier said the Jets first looked at the Chassell record after winning a second straight Class D title March 26, 2016. “We wondered if we would be able to do it,” Mercier said a day before making Big Bay de Noc victim No. 64. “It is rewarding to be named coach of such an historic team. I feel privileged to have coached these kids.”

The basketball team’s success has been shared by the school’s football team, which has won two consecutive 8-player MHSAA championships with 27 straight victories overall. With several students on both teams, that means those boys have won 91 straight games during the fall and winter seasons.

Mercier said the Jets have not spent a lot of time talking about Chassell’s record. “The last week or two we’ve talked about the distraction part of it,” he said, indicating people have been talking about it and the coaches wanted the players to respond appropriately.

Former Jets’ skipper Bob Whitens, who coached the team to the 1984 Class D title, spoke to the players recently. Mercier said his message was when you go to practice an athlete does one of two things: Get better or get worse. “He asked the players to think about that on a daily basis,” Mercier said of emphasizing daily improvement.

“It is something historic. You don’t want to diminish its historic value by not talking about it,” said Mercier, adding “we have always been week-to-week about our goals.”

Their first goal is winning a third straight Class D championship, but the postseason does not begin until March 6. So the immediate focus can now turn to Chassell’s record. “We are trying mentally and physically to prepare for that moment. This week was the first time we tried to prepare for that night. We are ramping it up as District week, treating the next three games as the next three games in the District.”

North Central has not really been challenged this season, with a 70-59 victory at Class B Menominee the closest game. Menominee also provided the biggest challenge last season, falling 64-60 at home when Jason Whitens snapped a 60-60 tie with a layup and free throw with seven seconds left for the Jets’ 40th straight win.

Chassell also had a few escapes during its record run, none bigger than in the 1956 Class D championship game when the Panthers trailed by 15 points with 3:20 left. With a stifling full-court press, Chassell scored the final 18 points to beat Portland St. Patrick 71-68.  (U.P. schools Stephenson and Crystal Falls also won MHSAA titles that day).

“They didn’t get the ball past half-court,” recalled Don Mattson of Ishpeming, one of three surviving members of that first title team. “Jenison Field House was going nuts.”

Mattson said coach Ed Helakoski picked up the diamond press from coach John Gaffney of Houghton, who used it to help the Gremlins win the 1955 Class C title. “We played a man-to-man zone. They call it a match-up zone now,” said Mattson. “We practiced it every day. Everyone knew their assignments.”

The Panthers repeated as champs in 1957 and managed to extend their win streak by edging L’Anse 64-63 and erasing an 18-2 deficit to upend Negaunee St. Paul.

“The 1957 team was our best team,” said Mattson, the only player to start all 65 games during the streak. “We had size and experience. We were good.”

In 1958, the escape act came against Doelle High School, in a game moved from Tapiola to Houghton High School to accommodate the large crowd. “Doelle was our big rival,” Mattson said. “We were two points down when the horn went off. Bobby Belhumer, the fastest kid in school, was fouled (at mid-court) when a Doelle player reached in as the horn goes off. He never made two free throws in his life and he had a 1-and-1.

“We all thought we were done. The first shot was real flat, herky-jerky (shooting) motion. It hit the front of the rim, skidded across and hit the back of the rim, bounced up and hit the top of the backboard and fell right through the hole. The basketball gods were smiling on us. The second one he just nailed, we got to overtime (60-60) and we won 72-66.”

Mattson said the 1958 champions “were not as good as 1957 but we knew how to win. Ed just kept coaching us.”

Chassell beat Stevensville 58-50 in 1957 Final and Owosso St. Paul 66-61 in the 1958 title game. Chassell’s winning streak ended in the 1958-59 season opener with a one-point loss to Ewen.

“Fifty-nine years ago. Guys always throw that at me,” Mattson said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit. We must have done something good. It was a number. That is all it was. That is pretty much the way I’ve looked at it for 59 years.”

Unlike the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, who share a toast once the season’s last unbeaten team loses, Mattson is cheering for the Jets.

“I just hope the Jets can break the record. I’m glad to see a U.P. team go break it,” he said. “Let’s keep it on this side of the (Mackinac) bridge. It is just a matter of the right time, the right place, the conditions and the players. Records are just a number.”

The only other survivors from those teams are Belhumer, who lives near Milwaukee, and Paul Makela, who lives in California. The trio joined the U.S. Navy together, after Mattson spent a year playing at Northern Michigan University.

The players were not aware they set a state record, with Mattson recalling that Helakoski told them not to read the paper or believe what was written and that he would save the papers and distribute them after the season.

They followed the same approach used by the Jets, playing one game at a time, going day-by-day. “I give Helakoski credit for keeping us on a low keel,” said Mattson. “We never thought we were better than anybody. We just kept level-headed. We didn’t realize what we did until we were out of school.”

Mattson, whose son Troy is the women’s basketball coach at NMU, said the game has changed drastically since he was a two-time all-state selection.

“We had small gyms; there was no roll-dribble. The hand was on top of the ball or else it was (called) a carry. Our game was passing, put the ball on the floor a couple of times, go up and shoot or pass the ball,” he said.

He has seen the Jets play but doesn’t plan to attend the potential record-breaker. “I’ll see them in the Regional (at Negaunee),” he said. “Another thought crossed my mind. North Central is going to win another state championship. I’m confident of that. If they do, they will have about 80 wins in a row.”

The Jets have tried to keep the record chase low key, but Mercier said that approach is changing as the record bid approaches.

“Our players, now they see it is there within reach. They really want it,” he said, noting they appreciate the importance of U.P. basketball. “We don’t want to downplay it by any means. As we get closer they are expecting to reach that goal, and they know the hard work it has taken to reach it.”

He doesn’t believe the players are feeling the pressure of maintaining or extending the streak. “The players are doing a great job of deflecting the pressure, and that allows us to be a little looser with our approach,” Mercier added. “They don’t seem frazzled by the pressure because they have prepared for the moment.”

Denny Grall retired in 2012 after 39 years at the Escanaba Daily Press and four at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, plus 15 months for WLST radio in Escanaba; he served as the Daily Press sports editor from 1970-80 and again from 1984-2012. Grall was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and serves as its executive secretary. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for the Upper Peninsula.

PHOTOS: (Top) Chassell's 1955-56 team started its record 65-game winning streak. (Middle) The 1956-57 (top) and 1957-58 teams also won MHSAA championships. (Below) Former players met for an MHSAA "Legends" celebration during the 1998 Boys Basketball Finals.

Clarkston's Loyer Leaves All-Time Legacy with 25 Record Book Listings

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 22, 2023

Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.

Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).

Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.

See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.

Boys Basketball

Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.

Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.

Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.

Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.

Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.

Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.

Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.

Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.

Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).

Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.

Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.

Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.

Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.

Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.

Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.

New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.

Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.

Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.

Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.

Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.

PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.