By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half
BOYNE FALLS – It's been one milestone after another for Marcus Matelski in 2016.
In the last four weeks, the Boyne Falls senior has eclipsed the school's single-game scoring record three times, while becoming the 36th player in MHSAA state basketball history to score 2,000 points in his career.
To top it off, Matelski led the Loggers to a 53-50 win over previously unbeaten Alanson last Friday to forge a tie atop the Northern Lakes Conference. Earlier in the month, Alanson handed Boyne Falls its first league loss in five years, a streak that stretched nearly 60 games.
Matelski, who scored a school record 50 points in Monday's win over Traverse City Christian, has been instrumental in the Loggers’ success over those five years since he started on varsity as an eighth-grader. Because of the school's enrollment – Boyne Falls has fewer than 40 students – the MHSAA allowed Matelski to play on the varsity as a 13-year-old. He scored more than 200 points that season, although those numbers are not included in his high school career totals.
A two-time Associated Press all-state player, the 6-foot-2 Matelski is averaging 38 points, 11 rebounds, 8.0 steals and 4.5 assists per game for the 12-2 Loggers. He currently ranks 11th on the MHSAA’s statewide all-time scoring list with 2,226 points and is on track to break the single-season steals record of 131 set by three different players.
Records to gloat about, right?
Matelski, though, is not the attention-seeking type.
"I don't like to think about (records) too much," he said. "That way I don't get overwhelmed by it. I just like to go out there and play."
The night he surpassed 2,000 career points, officials stopped the game for a brief presentation. Matelski's reaction? He asked his coach, Tim Smith, how long it would take because he wanted to get back to the game.
Matelski spent the post-game posing for pictures with family and friends and talking with the media. There was no celebration in the locker room.
"Marcus would not have wanted that," his friend and teammate Andrew Campbell said. "He's humble. He's an under-the-radar type of guy. You talk to him about his accomplishments and he acts like it's nothing."
Matelski's averages speak volumes. So does his team's success. In his five years on varsity, Boyne Falls is 91-10. They are seeking a fifth consecutive league title and a third straight District championship.
For Smith, Matelski is a once-in-a-lifetime player.
"Marcus could be an impact player for any school in northern Michigan, no matter the level," he said. "He's a coach's dream. What I'm most proud of is how hard he makes those around him work, including me. He demands you coach him. He demands you make him better. I haven't played many rounds of golf the last four years because he's calling me every night, saying, 'Can I get in the gym and put up 500 to 600 shots?'”
Smith describes Matelski, a National Honor Society student, as a quiet leader, a hard worker who leads by example.
"Marcus is the type of kid who will work eight hours in the mill (at the family’s lumber yard), deliver a couple truckloads of wood afterwards, go mow his grandmother's grass and then call me around 8 or 9 at night wanting to get in the gym," Smith said.
The fact that Smith is there for his players is not lost on the 17-year-old.
"We're very lucky to have a coach like coach Smith because he will not say no," Matelski said. "If I call, or a couple of the other guys call and ask if we can get in the gym, he'll be there in five minutes. That's pretty special."
Smith, who has coached for more than 20 years at four schools, is a Boyne Falls graduate. He played on the basketball team in the early 1980s with Marcus Matelski's father, Chris. Smith scored nearly 1,400 points in his three years on varsity and held the school's single-game scoring record of 43 points until Matelski tossed in 44 in a win over Alba in early January. Three weeks later, Matelski went off for 48 against Central Lake. Then 50 on Monday.
"Marcus is the most well-rounded player I've ever coached," Smith said.
"He's so athletic. The night he hit 2,000 he didn't miss a shot (at the start). He scored on a crossover pull-up. He scored on an offensive rebound. He scored on a back cut. He scored on a two-handed dunk. He scored on a 3."
Matelski needed 16 points in that mid-January contest with Harbor Light Christian to reach 2,000. A deep 3 with two minutes left in the first quarter put him over.
"We knew he was going to get it that night," Campbell said. "But in the first quarter? That was crazy. I guess if the well's not dry you keep going to it."
Matelski admitted it was a "surreal" night, one that brought out a flood of emotions as he started recalling "everything that went into" making that moment so special. At the top of his list? All the support he's received from his family, community, coaches and, of course, teammates.
"I get all this recognition for putting the ball in the hoop, but they do the behind-the-scenes work," he said of his teammates. "And I thank them for that."
That gratitude is a two-way street because his teammates contend Matelski makes them better players.
"He averages insane numbers, but it's not like he has the basketball all the time," Campbell, who also averages in double figures, said. "He gets everybody involved. Marcus expects just as much from us as coach does. He wants us to be on top of our games, too, so we can have success as a team."
Opponents try to make it difficult, double- and triple-teaming Matelski in order to slow Boyne Falls down. Alanson held Matelski to 30 points last Friday, but Leszek Wasylewski, Shea Ross and Cody Milbrandt all hit key fourth quarter baskets in the Loggers' comeback win.
"I take it as a compliment and as a challenge," Matelski said of the double- and triple-teaming. "I like to see what I can do (in those situations), to see if I can still deliver for the team."
His analytical approach to the game might be his greatest strength as a player – that and his mid-range jumper.
"I always try to get a feel for the game, try to decipher what's going to happen," he said.
The gym is Matelski's home away from home. He started playing in elementary school and was the varsity team manager as a seventh grader. His two older sisters, Kristen and Emily, played as well.
Although Matelski is known for his scoring, it's another aspect of his game that his father Chris appreciates.
"Defense," he said. "Marcus has great hands."
That partly explains why Matelski is nearing the state's single-season steals record.
Smith said Matelski plays with an even keel, never letting his emotions get the best of him.
"You can talk to anyone who has ever officiated our games and they'll tell you he's never given anybody a hard time," Smith said. "I looked at his twitter page (after he scored 2,000 points) and I couldn't believe the number of opponents who were congratulating him. A kid doesn't get that kind of respect from the people he plays against unless he handles himself with class."
Turns out, Matelski's scoring average is not all that's been heating up since the start of the new year. His recruitment is picking up, too. Most of the interest is from Division III and NAIA schools, although Division I South Carolina Upstate has been in contact.
Smith said the biggest challenge is convincing college coaches that although Matelski is playing Class D competition in the north, he has the tools, especially the athleticism, to succeed at the collegiate level.
"(Recruiters) say, 'We don't have any video of him dunking the ball,’" Smith said. "So I’ll say, 'Hey Marcus, when you get a breakaway why don't you dunk the ball.' He'll say, 'Coach, I don't want to dunk the ball if we're up 30 points.' We all know he can dunk the ball, but now we have to prod him a little, saying it's OK to showcase your stuff. You're the one who did those power cleans and squats for hours to get yourself that athletic.
“I think everyone is a little gun shy about a kid from Boyne Falls. There were those who said Chris Hass couldn't play because he basically played the same caliber of competition."
Hass, who prepped at Pellston, is now a standout at Bucknell, where he averages a team-high 18 points a game.
Hass is currently third on the state's all-time scoring list with 2,522 points, and that mark is within range for Matelski. Mio's Jay Smith (2,841) and Hastings' Mark Brown (2,789) are the top two scorers.
Boyne Falls has six regular season games remaining before a tough District that features state-ranked Bellaire.
“Bellaire is very good,” Smith said. “If we don't play anything but our best we won't win the District."
A year ago, the Loggers reached the Regional Final before losing to Frankfort. Boyne Falls has never won a Regional, which is something Matelski and Campbell have dreamed about.
March Madness is still a month down the road, though. But if this last month is any indication, there could be more special nights ahead.
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) Boyne Falls’ Marcus Matelski fires a jumper as three Ellsworth defenders shade to his side of the court. (Middle) Matelski pulls up for a shot over a Pellston defender. (Below) Matelski dunks for another two of his more than 2,000 points. (Photos courtesy of Rachel Lange.)
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.