Manton, Buckley Prepped for Final Week

March 17, 2017

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

TRAVERSE CITY – History repeated itself Wednesday night.

Down four midway through the fourth quarter, Manton rallied for an edge-of-your-seat 47-46 win over Boyne City in the MHSAA Class C Regional Final at Houghton Lake.

It was Manton’s first Regional title since 1998, when the Rangers topped Boyne City, also at Houghton Lake.

“It’s interesting how things work out,” said Manton coach Ryan Hiller, who was a star player on that 1998 squad.

The Rangers next will face Negaunee on Tuesday in Petoskey.

Manton is one of two Wexford County teams marching on to the Quarterfinals. Unbeaten Buckley upended Suttons Bay 56-37 for a Class D Regional crown at Traverse City Central.

It was Buckley’s first Regional championship since 2010. The Bears will meet Wyoming Tri-unity Christian on Tuesday in Cadillac.

“Let’s do it,” said Bears coach Blair Moss, who starts five underclassmen. “This is fun. I told the kids, ‘This is something you’ll remember the rest of your lives. Let’s not waste it.’ I’m not worried about next year because you never know what will happen next year. Let’s do it right now.”

While Manton players, coaches and fans were basking in the glow of victory in Houghton Lake, Hiller was relieved to be moving on. The Rangers won despite shooting 26 percent from the field – 23 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In Monday’s Regional opening win over Maple City Glen Lake, the Rangers were 1-of-11 behind the arc in the first half.

“We just don’t shoot well in that gym,” said Hiller. “We’re a 42 percent 3-point shooting team. We had a stretch of five games this season where we hit over 10 3s (in each game).

“These were the two worst shooting nights we’ve had all year. That was my fear (coming into the Final). If we don’t hit our 3s, it’s a dogfight. And that’s exactly what happened.”

It forced Manton to rely on other parts of its game.

“Free throws and defense won the game for us,” said junior guard Hunter Ruell after the title-clinching victory. “We got some big stops at the end – our coaches had a good gameplan for us – and we hit our free throws. That’s what got us the win.”

The Rangers were 14 of 18 from the charity stripe, 9 of 10 in the fourth quarter. On Monday night, they finished 17 of 19, 9 of 11 over the final eight minutes.

Ruell led the way Wednesday with 13 points, but Jayden Perry, Wyatt Baker and Trever Salani all made key shots down the stretch.

“It’s amazing,” said Ruell. “(A tournament run has) been our dream since day one. Our first goal was to get past McBain (in the District). Since then, we’ve been playing it game by game and it’s been working out.”

“For the players and coaches, who have all worked hard and put the time in, this is rewarding,” added Hiller. “And it’s great for our community. Our community needed something like this. I think our whole town was watching or listening to the game tonight.”

The tournament door swung open for the 20-4 Rangers when they beat unbeaten and top-ranked McBain in the District Final, 54-48. McBain had beaten Manton twice during the regular season, 57-55 and 61-45. The Ramblers also had sent the Rangers to the exits in the last two Districts with down-to-the-wire 46-43 and 49-48 triumphs.

“We’ve been so close,” said Hiller. “We’ve been in so many battles with them.”

This time the Rangers won that battle, and now their journey will take them to Petoskey, where they opened the season with wins over Class A Regional finalist Traverse City West 76-72 and the host Northmen 52-48 in the Petoskey Invitational.

Oh, by the way, the Rangers shot 48 percent beyond the arc in those games.

“Our kids should have confidence playing in that gym,” said Hiller.

There’s actually a Petoskey connection at work for the Rangers this season. Former Northmen standout Trevor Huffman, who led Kent State to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2002 and then played 12 years of professional basketball, is helping out, although now it’s “from afar” since he’s been in the Caribbean a good chunk of the season.

“We have good, hard-working, nice kids,” said Hiller. “He (Huffman) formed a bond with them. He said, ‘Hey, I’d love to help as much as I can.’ He’s been helping all season.”

Huffman started working with the team in practice, but left for the Caribbean around the first of the year, Hiller said. Still, he analyzes film for his friend after each Rangers game.

Hiller loads the film on Hudl, allowing Huffman instant access to it.

“It’s awesome to see the game from his eyes,” said Hiller. “He sees things I don’t.  He’s so competitive, and his reports are so detailed. He tells me, ‘You get that game on right after you win and I’ll watch it.’ He’s enjoying the coaching part of it.”

Huffman is also able to leave individual comments on the videos for players to review.

“He promised the kids if they made it to the Breslin he would fly back for the games,” said Hiller. “He’s sticking with it.”

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Huffman congratulated the Rangers on their Regional triumph.

“Proud of their team and what they have put into playing together, on and off the court,” he wrote. “There is nothing better than winning championships with your best friends. Congrats fellas! Enjoy the moment and back to work.”

It’s also back to work for Buckley.

The 24-0 Bears broke Wednesday’s Regional Final open in the third quarter, outscoring Suttons Bay 20-10 to stretch their lead to 15. It was still a 27-22 game when junior Austin Harris nailed a 3-pointer for Buckley. He was fouled after the shot, giving the Bears the ball back. Harris then hit another triple, and Buckley was on its way.

“This team is one of a kind,” said Harris. “We work really hard. We have depth and we have skill. But the biggest thing we have is heart.”

Buckley reached the Regional Finals a year ago, but turnovers in the final couple minutes proved costly in a loss to Bellaire.

“I thought we had them (Bellaire) on their heels,” said Moss, “and then we threw it away the last three or four possessions. We said then we wanted to get back here because we felt we left something on the court. We didn’t take care of the ball, and when you play like that against a good Bellaire team it comes back to haunt you and it haunted us all summer.”

The Bears vowed to improve in crunch time, but so far they rarely have been tested.

Of the 24 wins, 22 are by double digits. Only Glen Lake (63-60) and Manton (77-73) have put the heat on. Manton hit 13 3-pointers in their late February matchup.

Moss’ message to his team after that game?

“Just a hand up is not good enough,” he said. “You have to get a hand in their face.”

Buckley put added emphasis on defense this season, and the results tell the story. The Bears have held the opposition to under 40 points in 13 games.

Perhaps the best individual defensive effort came Wednesday night when sophomore Ridge Beeman shadowed Suttons Bay’s leading scorer Thomas Hursey, limiting the junior to three points.

“Keep a hand in the chest, stay in front of him and don’t let him shoot,” said Beeman. “That’s what Coach told me to do.”

He then proceeded to carry out the orders.

“Unbelievable,” said Moss, who was still conducting interviews about 30 minutes after the game ended. “I’ve got to go in and shake that kid’s hand. To hold Hursey to three points – and that was on a long desperation shot before half – that was huge. Kudos to him. I told him I don’t care if you don’t score any points at all, you make sure you lock that kid (Hursey) down because he has range, he can score from anywhere.”

Denver Cade hit his average, scoring 21 points for the Bears. Harris added 15, Beeman eight and Joey Weber seven.

“It was a good team win,” said Beeman. “It was a low scoring game for us, but we grinded it out.”

And it kept Buckley’s ultimate goal – a trip to Michigan State’s Breslin Center – in play.

“Our first goal was to win the conference championship, and we accomplished that,” said Cade. “Then it was the District championship, and we accomplished that. The Regional? We just accomplished that. Now our goal is to get to the Breslin.”

The run has also helped Moss get through a difficult time. His mother passed away earlier this month.

“I was very close with my mother,” he said. “That’s been on my mind. I’ve got a heavy heart.”

March, in Michigan basketball circles, is known as a memory-maker month, and Moss is determined to get the best efforts out of his players.

His message?

“Play hard, give me everything,” he said. “Don’t leave anything on the floor because if you do you’ll regret it forever – forever.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Manton’s Trevor Salani works to get around a defender. (Middle top) Buckley celebrates Wednesday’s Regional Final win. (Middle below) Manton’s Wyatt Baker and Hunter Ruell lock down a Boyne City player working toward the basket. (Below) A Buckley player battles for a rebound against Suttons Bay. (Manton photos by Jeannie Christensen; Buckley photos courtesy of Buckley High School.) 

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.