By Chris Dobrowolski
Special for Second Half
HALE — Joseph Kimmerer’s heart swelled with excitement as he raced toward the basket on a fast break.
The freshman point guard appeared to be destined to record his first points with the Hale varsity boys basketball team on a layup. Unfortunately for Kimmerer, a hard-charging player from Posen rattled him just enough to cause Kimmerer to lose focus for a split second.
“There was somebody coming up behind me and a lot bigger at the time,” said Kimmerer. “I was scared of that, and I was excited for my first points and just blew it.”
Kimmerer has not had much trouble scoring since that miss. In fact, points have come in abundance over the past three years. He finished with 14 in that first game against Posen, reached the 1,000-point club midway through last season, and with a career total of 1,228 points stands just one 3-pointer from becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer — surpassing the record set by Chad Brandt in 1992. His first chance to set the record will come tonight against Rogers City.
“It’s going to mean a lot,” said Kimmerer. “All the hard work and teammates who have helped me along the way. Coaches, family, everybody supporting. It’s going to mean a lot.”
Kimmerer’s dad, Joe, has seen Joseph’s scoring prowess up close as the head coach of the Eagles, getting a sideline perspective on his son’s physical and athletic development from being a 3-point marksman as a 5-foot-9 freshman to the complete offensive package now as a 6-foot-2 senior.
“He was a spot-up shooter,” said Joe. “Didn’t like a lot of contact. Always could make free throws but never got to the line much. Now he is a kid that goes to the rim hard, looks for contact, wants contact, wants to go make that three-point play at the free throw line. He’s also gotten to the point where his athleticism and his strength have caught up to the skills he had.”
Joe Kimmerer also understands the magnitude of what his son has done on the basketball court, having been a 1,000-point scorer during his own playing career for Hale as well as a 25-year coaching veteran for Hale’s boys or girls basketball squads since the late 1990s.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Joe said of his son’s pending school scoring record. “But the accomplishment that I think stands out even beyond that is there has never been a player at our school that has played for four straight league championships. We’re at three in a row now. We’ve got a very good opportunity to put our fourth in the book. That accomplishment might stand out more to me, maybe because I’m the coach. To be able to say you won four league championships. That’s a pretty good honor, and he would be the only one who could say that.”
Indeed, the Eagles have had a good run in Joseph’s first three years on the varsity, winning 17, 13 and 18 games, respectively, while capturing three straight North Star League Little Dipper division titles.
Joseph is young for his grade, having turned only 17 on Oct. 10, but he’s always done things earlier than most. He got his introduction to the gymnasium as a 2-year-old while his dad conducted practice. When he got old enough to start playing, Joseph could be found shooting off to the side of the gym as Hale’s high school teams played nearby. By the time he was in fourth grade, he was on the court at Hale’s practices, getting a chance to compete against much older junior varsity or varsity players.
Joseph was ready to suit up for the varsity squad when he got to high school. Joe thought so too, but he erred on the side of caution, not wanting it to appear that favoritism was the reason his son earned a varsity roster spot. So Joseph started the year on the junior varsity.
“I thought I could (play at the varsity level) the whole time,” said Joseph. “I just had to prove myself at JV and get the call up. I just believed.”
Joseph was dazzling in his two games with the JV as overmatched opponents struggled to guard him, making it even more obvious the Eagles’ varsity could use his services.
“I knew going into that season that we needed a shooter,” said Joe. “Someone who could score for us on a kickout. We went into our first two games of the year, and we proved as a varsity team that we needed somebody like that. At the JV level he was doing things in those games that the rest of the players could look at and say, ‘We really need that.’ I look back and I wish I would’ve pulled him up and had him part of the varsity for those two games also, but it was also kind of a stepping stone for him, too, to show the guys. When he came up he was second on our team in scoring as a freshman in a year that we won the league and Districts. It kind of stated for itself right there.”
Joseph averaged 12.1 points per game as a freshman, then saw that grow to 18.6 points per game as a sophomore and 25.5 per outing last year as his game continued to blossom. He also managed to lead the Eagles in rebounding from his guard position last season with 11.9 per game and is in line to set the school’s career record in that category as well if he pulls down 125 boards this winter. He had 275 last season. Defensively, Kimmerer always draws the opponents’ top player regardless of size.
Scoring, though, is where Joseph has really left his mark. He’s done it in an efficient manner, too. Last year he shot 42 percent from beyond the arc, 53 percent from the field and 88 percent from the foul line.
“He has a possibility of being a 30-point-a-game guy,” said Joe. “It’s not because he’s going to take 35 shots. It’s just going to come because that’s his game. His speed, his size — everything has increased over this past summer. I think the game might come a little easier than it has in the past even.”
With that kind of year Joseph could reach the 2,000-point plateau, a feat reached by only 41 players in state history.
Joseph set a career high with 40 points in a game against Mio last year. However, the Thunderbolts have been a thorn in the Eagles’ side the last two postseasons, including handing Hale a 51-49 loss in last year’s District championship game.
“We split with them both years in the regular season, but once it gets District time it just doesn’t go our way,” said Joseph.
Besides being a stellar basketball player, Joseph is also a model citizen and student. He has a 3.8 grade point average, is part of the National Honor Society and can often be found in the gym mentoring kids in the Little Eagles youth program. It’s just Joseph’s way of giving back to a community that has taken a keen interest in the Eagles boys basketball team.
“We’re packing the gym every night,” said Joe. “People in the community who have no connection to the team are traveling to away games. We’ve got people in the stands at scrimmages, and it’s not just because of him. Our team is strong, and people have kind of latched on. They like the brand of basketball we’re playing. (Joseph) involves everybody in it. Guys who are on that (1,000 point) scoring list are making it back to games. They haven’t been back in the gym in 20 or 25 years or longer and they were at his game because they want to see him do it. I feel that’s going to happen here when we go to Rogers City. ... We’re going to get that group of people who really don’t have a connection, other than they played in the past, were on that list, or like basketball. They’re going to be there because of what we’re doing with three straight league championships, and he’s a big part of that.”
Chris Dobrowolski has covered northern Lower Peninsula sports since 1999 at the Ogemaw County Herald, Alpena News, Traverse City Record-Eagle and currently as sports editor at the Antrim Kalkaska Review since 2016.
PHOTO: Hale’s Joseph Kimmerer poses with the ball he received after scoring his 1,000th career point last season. (Photo courtesy of Sports in Motion.)
PHOTO: Hale’s Joseph Kimmerer poses with the ball he received after scoring his 1,000th career point last season. (Photo courtesy of Sports in Motion.)
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.
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.