Onsted Quickly Finding Winning Combinations During Fast Starts

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

December 28, 2021

ONSTED – Austin Davis played college basketball under John Beilein and Juwan Howard at the University of Michigan. One of the lessons he brought home with him after four years with the Wolverines is now helping the Onsted boys basketball team excel. 

“Austin talks to our team all of the time about being a star in your own role,” Onsted boys basketball coach Brad Maska said. “Whatever it is you do, whether it’s rebounding or scoring, you need to be a star in your specific role. That’s his message, and it's really made our team better.” 

Davis is finished with the Wolverines, but not basketball. The Onsted graduate helps at practices and games when he can, and Maska said his presence is one of the reasons the Division 2 Wildcats were 5-0 heading into a holiday tournament this week that features teams from three states. 

“Him just being here, being a part of it, is big for our guys,” Maska said. “We are lucky to have him.” 

Davis also is tutoring his younger brother, 6-foot-9 sophomore Ayden Davis.  

The younger Davis came on strong as the season went on last winter, and he has started this season even better, averaging better than 21 points a game. He scored 30 against Hanover-Horton and has a 20-rebound game to his credit as well. 

“As coaches we learned so much when we had Austin,” Maska said. “All of the things we are trying to do with Ayden are things we didn’t do with Austin. We want to play fast, get out and run, and Ayden can run up and down the floor.” 

Onsted has an interesting roster mix. There are five seniors, including captains Dayton Henagan and Harry Moore, who return from last season’s 14-4 team. There are three juniors, Davis is one of two sophomores, and there are two freshmen – Aidan Paquin and JT Hill – who played big roles in the first five wins. 

“The collection of kids we have around Ayden is second to none,” said Maska, in his 15th year as Onsted head coach. “It all starts with our seniors and how they have bought in to what we are doing. We had a great summer together, and it is showing.” 

Hill and Paquin both have hit big shots already this season. Junior Bradlee VanBrunt hit six 3-pointers in a win over Jonesville. Henagan is averaging six rebounds, five steals and five assists per game, and Moore has been filling up the stat sheets. 

“It hasn’t been just one guy,” Maska said. “That’s what has been so exciting. Everyone is contributing, one through 11.” 

Ayden grew up around the Onsted program while Austin was a three-year starter for the Wildcats. Their father, Eric Davis, remains an assistant coach. Ayden said he’s grateful for the work Austin puts in with him. 

“We have a great relationship, and I’m so grateful for him being here and helping me,” Ayden said. “He helps with my shot, my footwork. He learned from Coach Beilein and Coach Howard. He’s bringing that to working with me. I’m very excited to work with him. 

Onsted basketball“He’ll put his shorts on and pull out the old basketball shoes sometimes and we go at it. It makes me a better player.” 

Henagan, a 6-2 senior forward, is second on the team in scoring, putting up between 11 and 19 points in every game this season. He said as a captain, it's his role to ensure the younger players on the team are integrated into everything the team does. 

“This summer was really important because we gelled right away,” he said. “Having that time brought everyone close together. Now we hang out and do things together as a team. It’s been big for us. We all trust each other. The summer really gave us a head start.” 

Maska has upgraded the Wildcats’ schedule this season. They played three games over the first five nights of the season, are playing in the North Central Tournament in Ohio this week and will play at a Martin Luther King Day event in Ohio against Toledo St. Francis, a Division 1 school in its state. 

“I like to play different teams,” Maska said. “In the summer we will play all over the place. We want to play the best and see how we stack up.” 

It’s a good time for basketball all around at Onsted. The Wildcats JV boys are also undefeated, and the Onsted girls varsity is 5-0 after knocking off Brooklyn Columbia Central on Dec. 16. The Golden Eagles had won 34 straight Lenawee County Athletic Association games before the Wildcats beat them, 46-34, with great defense down the stretch. 

Varsity girls head coach Brandon Arnold likes the versatility of his team. 

“We have four guards, and we can do a lot of different things with them,” he said. 

Senior Kaylei Smith, a Siena Heights University signee, is off to a great start with 85 points in five games, and sophomore Hailey Freshcorn is a gym rat who is fast and the ringleader on defense. 

“She never comes out of the gym,” Arnold said.  

Onsted won 14 games last year and graduated four-year starter and 1,000-point scorer Mya Hiram.  

“No one expected us to start like this,” Arnold said. “But the girls have embraced it. We’re like the underdog right now.” 

The Wildcats girls got a late start to the season due to the volleyball team reaching the Quarterfinals, and then battled some COVID-19 issues. They are rolling now but have some tough games coming up. 

“We have a lot of momentum and confidence right now,” Arnold said. I like how we are playing, and the things we are doing.” 

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Onsted’s Dayton Henagan (3) makes his move toward the basket during a win over Hudson. (Middle) Past star Austin Davis coaches up one of Onsted’s current contributors. (Photos by Deloris Clark-Osborne.)

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Girls Report Week 1

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 5, 2022

Another girls basketball season began last week – and took off in a hurry for several teams anticipating great things this winter.

MI Student AidTwo themes generally dominate the start of a hoops season – contenders facing off in intriguing nonleague matchups, and teams that didn’t enjoy the greatest success last winter eclipsing it quickly this time around. We have plenty to tell of both as we begin another series of “Breslin Bound” reports.  

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. Grand Rapids West Catholic 55, Hudsonville 50 – Last season’s Division 2 runner-up opened with this win over the 2020 Division 1 champion Eagles, who are coming off a 21-3 finish from a year ago.  

2. Lowell 66, Kent City 39 – The Red Arrows handed Kent City – a Division 3 semifinalist last season – its first regular-season defeat since Jan. 14, 2020.

3. Hart 43, Ludington 42 – The Pirates opened the season by edging the Orioles, who are coming off a Division 2 Semifinals appearance in March.

4. Grosse Pointe North 56, Detroit Country Day 45 – The Norsemen capped the season’s first week with a double-digit win over the Yellowjackets, who have made the Division 2 Semifinals two straight seasons.

5. Lake Fenton 46, Frankenmuth 36 – Lake Fenton, a Division 2 Regional finalist last season, opened with this win over one of last season’s quarterfinalists.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:

DIVISION 1

Flint Carman-Ainsworth (2-0) Despite starting 0-2 last season, Carman-Ainsworth rebounded to finish 18-5 and win a District title. Those early defeats came to Williamston by three and Brighton by 19, and those teams both went on to win 17 games. Last week, Carman-Ainsworth opened with a 61-50 win over Williamston and then defeated Brighton 59-43.

Taylor (3-0) The Griffins closed 5-2 over their final seven games last winter to get to 11-11 for the season, and they’re well ahead of that pace with three first-week wins – including a 38-33 victory over Dearborn Heights Crestwood, which is coming off a 12-7 finish. This week should be telling as Taylor faces Gibraltar Carlson and Allen Park after going a combined 1-3 against them last season.  

DIVISION 2

Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (3-0) The Irish also opened with three first-week wins, the exclamation mark coming with a 73-50 victory over Redford Westfield Prep at Saturday’s Arbor Prep Ice Breaker Invitational – Westfield was 21-2 last season. Gabriel Richard is coming off a 15-7 run last winter and also last week defeated reigning Division 4 runner-up Plymouth Christian Academy 61-44.

Kingsford (2-0) A 5-5 start last season turned into a 7-13 finish, but Kingsford looks to be on stronger footing early with wins last week over Felch North Dickinson 48-37 and Ishpeming Westwood 42-38. Those two handed the Flivvers losses of six and 29, respectively, to start last winter. Kingsford is seeking its first winning season since 2018-19.

DIVISION 3

Dansville (2-0) The Aggies are coming off a solid 17-8 season, especially considering they play in a league with statewide powers Portland St. Patrick, Fowler and Pewamo-Westphalia among others. Dansville lost to the two-time reigning Division 4 champion Eagles by six and 27 last season, but finished last week by handing them a 36-22 defeat.

Gwinn (2-0) The Modeltowners didn’t win a game last season until Feb. 9, and that was their lone victory. Their 19 losses included a pair to Gladstone, and Gwinn avenged those with a 41-38 win Tuesday – and then doubled last year’s win total with a 41-31 victory over Brimley on Saturday.

DIVISION 4

Manistee Catholic Central (2-0) The Sabers opened with double-digit wins over Big Rapids Crossroads Academy and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep, the latter after losing 43-30 last season as Hackett went on to finish 13-9. MCC continued to finish 14-6 and share the West Michigan D League title, and will see the first of the other two co-champions, Mesick, for the first time Friday.

Morenci (2-0) The Bulldogs generally see Adrian Lenawee Christian once during the regular season and then frequently a second time during the MHSAA Tournament. Last week’s 47-39 win over Lenawee Christian was Morenci’s first since Dec. 4, 2015, and the Bulldogs also defeated Addison 49-17 to avenge an opening-night loss from last year.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Monday – Bloomfield Hills Marian (1-1) at Imlay City (2-0) – The Spartans were 19-4 last season and loaded up a strong nonleague opponent for an early test.

Tuesday – Clarkston (2-0) at Macomb Dakota (1-0) – Both are coming off 17-win seasons and will play (other opponents) in the weekend’s Best of Michigan Holiday Classic.

Friday – Fowler (1-1) at Portland St. Patrick (1-1) – Fowler may have won last season’s Division 4 championship thanks in part to a District Final win over the Shamrocks, but St. Pat won both regular-season meetings and the league title.

Friday – Detroit Edison (1-0) vs. Bolingbrook, Ill. (8-0) – The reigning Division 2 champion Pioneers start a weekend facing Illinois powerhouses with Bolingbrook at Belleville, then take on Chicago Whitney Young on Saturday.

Saturday – Detroit Country Day (1-1) at Belleville (0-0) – The most intriguing matchup of instate opponents at the Best of Michigan Holiday Classic pits the host Tigers – who have upped their win total three straight seasons – against a Country Day team with high aspirations.

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.

PHOTO Davison and Flushing tip off last week; the Raiders won their season opener 50-41. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)