MHSA(Q&)A: Historian Ron Pesch

April 16, 2012

When we receive a question on the history of MHSAA athletics that we can't answer on the spot, Muskegon's Ron Pesch is the first person we seek out for help.

Pesch took the reins as Michigan's chief high school sports historian during the mid 1990s after the retirement of legendary MHSAA record book originator Dick Kishpaugh and has contributed to various efforts and publications across the state. 

One of his latest projects is the awarding of "retro" Mr. Basketball Awards. The first Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award was given by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan in 1981 to Lansing Eastern's Sam Vincent. Three seasons ago, BCAM -- with research work by Pesch -- began awarding retro winners for the previous decades beginning with the 1920s. This winter, BCAM honored retro winners from 1922, 1932, 1942, 1952, 1962 and 1972.

Click to read more about those winners and the finalists recognized last month. Also, click for links to the previous retro winners. The retro Mr. Basketball project will last seven more seasons. Pesch explains more below.

How did you come up with rewarding a “Retro” Mr. Basketball?

The project came out of a conversation I had with (BCAM executive director) Tom Hursey at the basketball finals back in '99. Together, we hatched an approach honoring the state's past basketball greats. He let me run with it, while he worked on getting a subcommittee launched to make the selection.

How do you dig up all of this nomination info?

Between votes, I work on digging out the details. My initial target list always begins with all-state teams - if, of course they exist. All-tournament teams for the early years also serve as a starting point -- if they exist. Best I can tell, the Detroit Times, the Free Press and the News have all named all-state squads, at various points, back to about 1935. The Associated Press and UPI came to the game much later - somewhere around the early to mid 1960s. I then work on creating a crosstab on the players selected, noting the "teams" on which they were named (Class A 1st team, Dream Team, Class C 3rd team), and try to find quotes detailing their games. The result is really a reflection of the times and the history of newspaper reporting. 

In early years, we can struggle to uncover a player’s first name, let alone his class in school. And statistical coverage of a player's abilities was very limited. It's simply the way things were back then.  Everyone in town knew King Lewis, or Red Cherry, or Young Jacks. And the final box score only contained points, fouls, substitutions, as they were all you really needed to know about the game.  But by visiting the state library in Lansing, and looking at a cross-section of newspapers, you can usually dig out what you need.

Do you collect from other sources as well?

Another source is high school yearbooks. Some resources have started to emerge online. I also tap into the MHSAA site and make contact with ADs around the state, asking for their assistance on digging out details - especially class in school. Like the current program, only "seniors" are considered for the award.  Mid-year graduates can create a challenge, but the rule currently in place is a player is considered a nominee in the year in which he was last eligible for the state tournament. In other words, if you graduated in January or February of 1943, you would be considered for the 1942 ballot. It appears that a similar approach was used in selecting all-state teams.



High School











1971 A-1  G.

Frank Tanana, Jr. (C)

Detroit Catholic Central









1971 A-1  C

Tom McGill

Flint Northern









1971 A-1  F.

Lindsay Hairston

Detroit Kettering









1971 A-1  F.

Campy Russell

Pontiac Central









That cross-tab table will help establish a list of nominees. A consensus first-team pick is an obvious candidate. When only a single all-state team is available, I'll do what I can to look up all-conference teams or all-area teams from around the state to see who else might be considered. While life after high school is not a considered when trying to pick a winner, a player who emerges as a star in college or in the pros may emerge as a candidate when you see his details in a local paper.

Bios are assembled from the newspaper reports, detailing as much as we can find on high school player's career. I'll tap into a variety of resources including old team histories when available. When needed, I'll toss out request to reporters, old and new, around the state. Local librarians and historians are another wonderful resource.

How does voting work?

Between sessions of the Boys Finals, the committee assembles to hash out a final ballot, and to make a selection. I don't vote, but I may guide the conversation and provide any additional details when needed, reminding members that we're focusing on their high school careers. The process is certainly imperfect.  But the committee approach prevents the process from becoming a popularity contest. These guys have the benefit of watching many of the players play. And, like the current Mr. Basketball program, they sometimes surprise. But that's what makes it fun. And, of course, stirs the pot. It gets people talking about the history of basketball in this state. 

Is there a theme to MHSAA basketball that has remained constant over the years?

For me the greatest thing about the basketball tournament is that it assembles a wide range of folks who want to see players they've heard about in action. And the process, for the most part, hasn't change since the 1920s. While the style of the game has changed, winning a title is much the same as it was back when our great-grandfathers played: You gotta get through the tournament. And only four trophies are awarded.

These guys were the "Magic" of their day.  I'm hoping we never forget that.

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.