By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING — Deshaun Thrower had this moment in mind back in November, even while the pain — literal and figurative — was still fresh from his final high school football game.
"I'll try to get healthy for basketball and try to win it in that," a banged-up Thrower said after he and his Muskegon teammates lost to Birmingham Brother Rice for the second straight year in the MHSAA Division 2 championship game at Ford Field.
Fast forward to March 22, and Thrower sat in another postgame press conference following an MHSAA championship game.
This time, he wasn't hanging his head and talking in hushed tones. Instead, he was smiling and clutching the Class A basketball championship trophy following Muskegon's 91-67 rout of Bloomfield Hills at the Breslin Center.
"It feels fake right now, because we're so used to being on the other end," said Thrower, a star quarterback in football and winner of Mr. Basketball this winter.
"This year, it's tears of joy instead of tears of sorrow. It feels good to get it for us, coach and the rest of the players who didn't get it.
"Just knowing I won my last high school game ever, won it with my teammates ... it feels good to leave on a good note."
Muskegon coach Keith Guy said Thrower's leadership was as big a key to the championship run as his numbers and physical tools.
"I don't think anybody's been in more big games than he has in football and basketball," Guy said. "He's a tough leader. He makes sure everyone is doing what they're supposed to do and holding themselves accountable. To have a leader on your team like that, everybody else follows."
The Big Reds won their first MHSAA championship since 1937 and third overall. They also rode future University of Michigan two-sport All-American Bennie Oosterbaan to a title in the 1923 Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament; the MIAA was the predecessor to the MHSAA.
It's also the school's first MHSAA title in any sport other than football since the 1937 boys basketball team won the championship. The Big Reds have won five football championships, but took a big step toward removing the label of being just a football school. They reached the MHSAA Quarterfinals last season, losing 64-61 to Grand Rapids Christian.
The basketball team had six members of the football team.
"We want to build what they have here at Michigan State, a two-headed monster," Guy said. "(Football) coach Shane Fairfield does an excellent job. We share the kids and teach them the same message; it shows. The football team finished in the finals and the basketball team finished as champions, so I think that formula works."
Muskegon finished 28-0, joining the 2003 Rockford team (also 28-0) as one of only two unbeaten Class A champions in the last 24 years. Only two other Class A teams have had 28-0 seasons: Flint Central in 1981 and Flint Northwestern in 1985.
"They're good," Bloomfield Hills coach Duane Graves said. "We knew they were good. You can't go 28-0 and not be good. They have a good balanced attack. It had us on our heels all night."
Thrower affirmed why he was chosen Mr. Basketball as the state's top senior, scoring 21 points on 7 for 12 shooting.
Junior center Deyonta Davis may have established himself as the front-runner for next year's award, scoring 26 points on 12 for 14 shooting, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking three shots.
"He's a different kid where he doesn't show a lot of emotion," Guy said. "There are no big moments for him. You won't see him cry. You probably won't see him smile. He's always even-keeled. Tonight he relaxed and played the way he's capable of playing. He came out with a lot of energy, and I thought he controlled the game."
The game was close for much of the first quarter, but Bloomfield Hills couldn't keep pace with Muskegon for long.
The Big Reds held an 18-15 lead when they scored nine straight points to ignite a 15-2 run that put them comfortably ahead for the rest of the game.
Muskegon built its lead to 43-22 with 24.2 seconds left in the first half and led 45-25 at halftime.
Senior guard Dylan Deitch gave Bloomfield Hills a glimmer of hope in the third quarter, hitting two 3-pointers and scoring eight points. His drive to the basket with 5:06 left in the third cut Muskegon's lead to 47-32, but the Big Reds responded with the next six points to put to rest any doubt about the outcome.
"Everything was geared toward the postseason," Guy said. "We've been trying to climb this mountain for years, and got here. These guys have the formula for success. We don't have any egos on our team. They're genuinely playing for one another. They're happy for one another. If one does better than the others tonight, they're happy as long as we get the win. It's truly a brotherhood and a family."
William Roberson Jr. had 17 points and five assists, while Joeviair Kennedy had 14 points for Muskegon, which scored a season-high 91 points.
Bloomfield Hills is a first-year school that formed when Andover and Lahser merged. Neither of the original schools ever won a regional championship, with Lahser reaching a Class A Regional Final last year under Graves' coaching before losing 65-41 to Rochester.
Xzavier Reynolds scored 21 points, going 4 for 4 from 3-point range, while Yante Maten had 13 points and three blocks for the Black Hawks (24-4).
Bloomfield Hills shot 9 for 31 (.290) in the first half before going 15 for 24 (.625) in the second.
"Shots just didn't fall," Graves said. "That happens. The ball didn't bounce our way. We couldn't make a layup in the first half — in and out, in and out. Someone forgot to take the Saran Wrap off the rim for us. Other than that, I thought the boys fought as hard as they could."
PHOTOS: (Top) Muskegon's Deshaun Thrower blocks off Bloomfield Hills' Todd Weiss during Saturday's Class A Final. (Middle) Bloomfield Hills' Cameron Dalton (00) works to get past Muskegon's Jordan Waire.
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.