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.
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.”
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.
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)