NorthPointe Comes Back to Land 1st Final

March 26, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Preston Huckaby is a four-year varsity starter for Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian’s basketball team. 

So he had a decent idea what was necessary to earn one more chance to suit up for the Mustangs, and with history on the line.

NorthPointe trailed Boyne City by 12 points less than a minute into the second quarter of their Class C Semifinal at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. 

Huckaby sank his first shot seconds later – and went on to score a game-high 26 points to lead the Mustangs back and into their first MHSAA Final with a 48-45 edging of the Ramblers.

“I think going into the game, we were a little nervous, this being our first time in this type of environment. We said if we want to play another game, we have to do what we need to do to win this game,” Huckaby said. “I think I needed to be more aggressive. That’s what I needed to do to get our team where we needed to be.” 

And that’s in Saturday’s 4 p.m. Class C Final, where NorthPointe (21-5) will seek its first MHSAA title, taking on Flint Beecher.

Huckaby was a solid 9 of 20 from the floor and also grabbed nine rebounds. And falling in line with that "aggressive" approach, he made a final deciding play at the other end of the court. 

Boyne City (21-6) came back from a 23-point swing to pull within 46-45 with 31 seconds to play. The Ramblers took two strong drives to the basket – the first ended with miss but an offensive rebound; Huckaby stepped in front of the second and took a charge that all but sealed the win. He made two free throws to extend NorthPointe's lead to three, and Boyne City’s final shot to tie hit off the front of the rim.

“He might be the all-time leading scorer in our school’s history, but in my three years at NorthPointe he’s probably taken 75 charges,” NorthPointe coach Jared Redell said of his senior guard. “If there was a stat on all-time charge takers, I imagine not only at our school, but he’d be close to a state record.” 

Boyne City senior guard Cole Butler scored 11 of his team’s first 15 points as the Ramblers quickly built their early double-digit advantage. Huckaby scored 11 points during the second quarter, his last-second shot tying the score at 26-26 heading into halftime.

Senior Andrew Holesinger opened the second half with a 3-pointer to give NorthPointe its first lead in more than 13 minutes. But Butler got hot again in the fourth quarter, scoring five more points to put Boyne City in position to take back the lead. 

“We talked about coming in today, playing loose, playing confident and playing to win. And I felt we did that tonight,” Boyne City coach Nick Redman said. “We got off to a great start, and I’m super proud of that. They gave themselves an opportunity to win, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Butler had 16 points and 10 rebounds taking on the lead role from senior teammate Corey Redman, who will play at Central Michigan University next season. Redman ended with only six points and five rebounds playing 30 minutes despite a foot sprain he suffered during the District that required he wear a walking boot. 

Senior guard Zach Napont added five points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals for the Ramblers, who started four seniors total. Holesinger added nine points for NorthPointe and a key blocked shot on Boyne City’s first attempt to re-take the lead with 1:25 to play.

Leaders from both teams brought experience at this level into Thursday – both schools’ football teams advanced to the Division 6 Semifinals this fall. 

But NorthPointe coach Jared Redell saw his team’s nerves early in the shots it was allowing and the way the Mustangs seemed out of sync.

“The third quarter always has been great for us, all tournament long,” Redell said. “We barely hung on, and you don’t want to hang on; we want to make sure we finish and we put them away. There’s a lot of things to learn from the game, and the good thing is we get to learn from them and play another game.” 

Click for the full box score and video from the postgame press conference.

PHOTOS: (Top) NorthPointe Christian’s Andrew Holesinger (23) drives during Thursday’s Class C Semifinal. (Middle) Boyne City’s Zach Napont pushes the ball upcourt against a number of defenders.

Second-Half Surge Sends Tri-unity Christian to 3rd-Straight Final

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 23, 2023

EAST LANSING — The Defenders will once again have a chance to do just that.

In what has become a usual rite of March during longtime head coach Mark Keeler’s 36-year tenure, the Wyoming Tri-unity Christian Defenders are once again headed for the Division 4 boys basketball championship game following a 54-37 win over Frankfort in a Semifinal on Thursday.

Making its third-straight appearance in a Final and 11th in school history, Tri-unity Christian will attempt to repeat as champion when it faces Munising in the 10 a.m. title game Saturday. 

Junior Owen Rosendall scored 13 points and senior Roy Fogg added 11 on Thursday to lead Tri-unity Christian (22-6), which will go for its sixth Finals win. 

“At the beginning of the year, we had some ups and downs in the season,” Rosendall said. “But we stuck to it and kept working.”

Tri-unity Christian got it done mainly by dominating the board, collecting a 41-22 rebounding advantage.  

Emmerson Farmer (0) gets a hand up high as Owen Rosendall puts up a jumper.“I think our quickness on the boards outdid their size,” Keeler said. “I was really happy with how explosive we were on the boards.”

The discrepancy even surprised Frankfort head coach Dan Loney, who said rebounding has been a strength of his team all year. 

“Going into the game, I would not have guessed they would have outrebounded us like that,” Loney said. “It’s one thing we’ve done well all year. I think honestly a lot of that came from their guard play. When their guards got to the rim (and) our bigs stepped over to help, their bigs were there to get their missed layups.”

Sophomore Carter Kerby led all scorers with 21 points to pace Frankfort (18-9). 

“It was a fun season for sure. We look forward to the future,” Loney said. 

Tri-unity Christian separated itself in the third quarter after Frankfort cut the lead to 29-26 with 4:40 to go in the period.

From there, Tri-unity Christian ended the third on an 11-1 run to take a 40-27 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We have a little more depth, and it helped,” Keeler said. “We were really trying to push the ball, and we were really trying to pressure them on defense. I think we wore them down a little bit.”

The Defenders continued to grow the lead in the fourth, taking a 48-32 advantage with 4:17 remaining after a 3-pointer by Rosendall and a basket by Akais Giplaye. 

Tri-Unity Christian forced Frankfort into 12 turnovers and 38.9-percent shooting from the field while committing only six turnovers itself.

“We played great defense,” Keeler said. “That is what I was really happy about. We made them work for everything they had.”

Tri-unity Christian got off to a good start, taking a 16-8 lead after the first quarter before Frankfort settled in during the second. 

Frankfort outscored Tri-unity Christian 13-9 in the second quarter to cut its deficit to 25-21 by halftime. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Tri-unity’s Jordan VanKlompenberg (3) puts up a shot over the outstretched arm of Frankfort’s Xander Sauer on Thursday. (Middle) Emmerson Farmer (0) gets a hand up high as Owen Rosendall puts up a jumper.