North Farmington Reaches 1st Final

March 25, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian was glad his team drew the second Class A Semifinal on Friday at the Breslin Center.

That meant an opportunity for the Raiders to get here for part of the day’s first game and soak in the atmosphere before taking the floor themselves against Lansing Everett.

And they clearly were ready. North Farmington, playing in its first MHSAA Semifinal, jumped to a 9-2 lead over the first four minutes and never trailed in downing Everett 60-48 to earn an opportunity to play for the program’s first Class A championship.

The No. 5 Raiders (24-2) will take on top-ranked Detroit U-D Jesuit in Saturday’s noon Final. The Cubs ended North Farmington's season in a Regional Final a year ago.

“With (that) being back then our first trip to a Regional Final, we folded a little bit,” North Farmington senior Alex Darden said, recalling the last time his team faced U-D Jesuit. “We weren’t used to the atmosphere. But thankfully we learned from that, and we have 11 seniors this year, and we know what it’s like. Going on this run, we’ve been playing in a great atmosphere for three or four games.

“I think we’ll be prepared – we’ll know what to expect this time.”

Seniors supplied 75 percent of North Farmington’s scoring Friday, led by guard Billy Thomas’ 26 points. Total, eight seniors saw the floor, bringing valuable experience against a team that had more at Breslin – Everett also made the Semifinals last season, and this month became the first team since 2006 and just the sixth Class A team ever to reach this round of the tournament after beginning the postseason with 10 or more losses.

The two starters back from that team – senior guards Jamyrin Jackson and LeAndre Wright – led the charge to keep it close. A Jackson 3-pointer with 3:48 to go in the third quarter took North Farmington’s lead to nine, and another jumper kept the Vikings only nine down heading into the fourth quarter.

Another Jackson 3-pointer pulled Everett within eight points with 4:37 to play. But North Farmington continued to answer and made all six of its free throws over the final minute to keep the Vikings (16-11) at arm’s length.

The Raiders led by as many as 17 during the third quarter and 15 during the fourth, extending again and again every time Everett tried to catch up.

“This season would’ve ended a week, or two, or three weeks ago but we kept coming back and winning games in the third or fourth quarter,” Everett coach Desmond Ferguson said. “We’ve had slow starts all season for a number of different reasons. I don’t know if we’re not warming up good enough or think we can just turn it up. That’s something that’s plagued us all season, and it came back to bite us." 

Jackson finished with 27 points and Wright had 10 points, six assists and six rebounds.

Junior Amauri Hardy added 15 points for North Farmington, and Darden had 14 rebounds and four blocks. All five Raiders starters scored at least five points, and eight players saw the floor for at least seven minutes. 

“Any time you have kids the caliber that we do, with how unselfish they are, who sacrifice for the betterment of the team so we can keep winning, it shows their true character,” Negoshian said. “When we left the gym this morning (at North Farmington), we talked about how it would be the last time that this group would be in the gym together. We wanted to make the most of it – and we’re doing that right now.”

Click for the full box score.

The Boys Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System. 

PHOTOS: (Top) North Farmington's Alex Darden connects on one of his four blocks during Friday's Class A Semifinal. (Middle) Lansing Everett's Diego Johnson also gets a block, one of his two for the game.

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.