Lake's Heroic Hurl Makes Holland History

January 20, 2016

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

HOLLAND – With 4.5 seconds remaining and his team trailing by two points, Demetrius Lake was only trying to help force overtime in last Friday’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Green showdown against visiting Zeeland West.

Instead, the standout junior guard from Holland High School made history with one dramatic shot.

“When they inbounded the ball to me, I was going to try and beat everybody down the floor to get a bucket and go to overtime,” Lake said. “That’s was all I was thinking. Get to the rim. Get to the rim.”

Lake altered his plan when he saw Zeeland West’s defense. He had only one option. 

“They came out in a half-court trapping situation to stop me, so I push the ball down the sideline as fast as I can and I look up and there is only two seconds on the clock,” Lake recalled. “So I shoot a 3 behind the arc, and I’m watching it go in as I follow through on my shot. It was like, wow, did that really happen?”

It did happen. A stunning buzzer-beater from the right wing that not only gave the Dutch a come-from-behind victory, but it gave Lake a school-record 50 points.

“Everybody was chasing me, and the place erupted,” Lake said. “Fans were jumping out of the seats and running on the court. It was a crazy atmosphere.”

Lake said the night was memorable for more than one reason.

“It was special in a lot of different ways,” he said. “It was a conference game against a Zeeland West team that played us tough, and breaking the record on a game-winning shot was real special because it was in front of my home crowd. The whole crowd, including the principal, superintendent and the athletic director. They were all there watching me, and it was just big for me and my teammates.”

Holland third-year head coach Paul Chapman has seen clutch shots from Lake before.

“He is not afraid to take those kind of shots, so I wasn’t surprised when it went in,” Chapman said. “It was a real tough shot, and he had guys all over him. He was way out by the sideline.

“He scored 50 points, and that overshadowed some other things because he also led us in that game in steals, assists and tied for the lead in rebounds. He played pretty much an all-around great game. He put the exclamation mark on everything with the 3-pointer at the buzzer.”

The 5-foot-11 Lake, who recently turned 17, eclipsed a longstanding school record. Ron Maat owned the previous mark, scoring 49 points during a game in 1960. 

Lake had his sights set on the record.

“I knew when I scored my first 40-point game against Cedar Springs that I was aiming for that record because I knew I was going to end up breaking it sometime this season,” Lake said. “It really wasn’t my main focus, but since I was playing middle school basketball one of the goals that I had was breaking records here at Holland High School.

“It’s special for me to have my name up there and in the record books. You have to work for that, and that’s what I did.”

Lake’s heroics helped improve Holland’s record to 6-3 and 2-0 in the conference. Through nine games, he’s averaging an astounding 33.3 points per game, with four games of 40 points or better.

Lake also contributes in other ways, averaging 4.6 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.0 assists per game. He’s shooting 43 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free-throw line.

Last season, as a sophomore, Lake averaged 25 points per game and earned a spot on the Class A all-state team. He scored at least 30 points eight times. 

While Lake has always possessed the ability to score points at a rapid pace, he improved other facets of his game during the offseason. 

“He’s a better ball handler, and that’s one thing he worked on, and he’s shooting a higher percentage,” Chapman said. “He’s been very aggressive with the ball, and he has the ability at times to put us on his back and kind of carry us through.

“He’s also a tremendous competitor. He really wants to win and wants to do well. He’s a fantastic athlete and not afraid to fail. He does a lot for us.”

Lake, who was pulled up to varsity from the junior varsity 11 games into his freshmen season, has seen all types of defenses from opposing teams in an attempt to contain him. 

It’s something he anticipated entering the season.

“I worked really hard this summer on being more consistent so I can be aware of teams running different defenses at me,” Lake said. “I really concentrated on my 3-pointers, lay-ups, free throws and getting other players involved. Alumni will come into practice and guard me, and we work on denying me the ball in practice.”

Lake also has stepped into a leadership role.

“He’s a much better leader,” Chapman said. “Last year he was on a senior-dominated team, but now he’s the guy with experience. He’s done a good job at getting guys in the right spots and getting them to compete and believe in themselves.”

Lake has received attention from several colleges including the likes of Purdue, Michigan State, DePaul and Youngstown State.

However, Lake has a wish list of three top programs he hopes to play for in the future.

“I really want to go to Duke because it’s a dream school for me, and number two is Michigan State, to play for Tom Izzo,” Lake said. “And then there is UCLA. Those are the top three I really want to go to.”

Dean Holzwarth covered primarily high school sports for the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years and more recently served as sports editor of the Ionia Sentinel and as a sports photojournalist for WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Holland's Demetrius Lake gets to the basket during a game last season against Hudsonville Unity Christian. (Middle) Lake throws down a dunk against Holland Christian. (Photos courtesy of Holland High School.)

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.)