Performance: Alpena's Chris DeRocher

February 1, 2019

Chris DeRocher
Alpena senior - Basketball

Alpena’s 6-foot-5 four-year varsity forward scored 29 points in last week’s 74-45 win over Sault Ste. Marie – and on the 29th point broke his school’s career scoring record on the way to earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.” 

DeRocher surpassed the record previously set in 1972 by Butch Feher, who went on to play at Vanderbilt University and for a season with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. DeRocher sank a fourth-quarter free throw to lock up the record at 1,436 points, and he added 26 more to his running total in Thursday’s 70-55 win over Gaylord after entering the night averaging 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and three assists per game this season. The Gaylord victory put the Wildcats at 11-2 after the team won five games his freshman season and nine games apiece the last two winters.  

It’s been a record-setting school year for Alpena’s senior class: In addition to DeRocher’s milestone, Aidan Day set the school’s career soccer goals record, Logan Guthrie became its all-time leading career football rusher and hockey goalie Cooper Black now owns Alpena’s single-season shutout record on the ice. DeRocher also played baseball – he pitches and plays first base – and carries a 3.7 GPA. He’s unsure where he’ll attend college, but he aims to continue playing basketball and study business.

Coach John Pintar said: “I have been fortunate to have a great seat every night to watch Chris develop the last four years as both a player and a person. As a coach, you always want to see each player reach their peak potential, and Chris has certainly done that. He has started every game for us since his freshmen year. He came into the program right after we had graduated a senior class that had won two conference titles and went 41-5. There was a void in the program, and Chris was able to step right in as a freshman and instantly become a key player on the team that we could count on every night. … Any great player will tell you that winning as a team is why they play, not their statistics, and Chris has always embodied that belief. His number one goal is always the success of the team and not scoring records. The scoring has always happened within the team framework of our offense and his desire for team success. … This achievement didn't happen by accident; he has truly put in the time and effort to get to this point. He has had great support from his family and teammates along the way and I'm sure he would be the first to tell you that this couldn't have happened without them and their support. Chris has great character and is an excellent student. He has always represented himself and our school with class. I am extremely proud of what he has done and expect him to continue doing great things the rest of the season and in the future.”   

Performance Point: “It was amazing, just all of the people there,” DeRocher recalled of last week’s record-setting night. “After I made that free throw, and hugging my teammates, and hugging my coaches that I've been with for four years, it was just really amazing to think about breaking a 47-year record. … Last year when I hit the 1,000-point mark, it was like, ‘All right, so if I do what I have the past two years, I should be able to do this.’ It was never something that I went out and tried to do. If it came, it came. I just went into every game trying to play the best I could for our team, and I ended up being able to do it.”

4-year varsity education: “I think I’ve just learned to not force every shot. I’ve tried to get more people more involved. Because I’ve learned if I get my teammates more involved it’s going to draw people away from me, and it’s going to be easier to get points. Just learning the game, learning defenders (and) how they play me, improving my shooting.”

Our time to shine: “The past couple years we’ve gone through some struggles. We didn’t really have that many people ahead of us, so that wasn’t always the best thing. For two years (2015-16 and 2016-17), we only graduated two seniors. Now we’re up to our grade, and we’re showing that once you get a good group together and you have a strong core, it really does help and it really does win games. We’ve learned so much the last few years – most of our starters have started since sophomore year. It’s really showed, how well we’ve played together and how much we know each other and the chemistry we’ve had.”

Super seniors: “We have a really, really strong class, and a lot of kids are going good places. To be able to be that class that breaks all those records is really cool. You always want to win; you want to show these other schools you really are something. Our grade was always pretty good. … We’re all pretty good friends with each other, and we’re always rooting for each other.” 

Putting down roots: “My family owns a couple of businesses in Alpena, so I’ll probably go into that. I’ll end up coming back home. I like it here, I like everything it has to offer. … I like the area and I want to stay here.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard recognizes a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Past 2018-19 honorees

January 24: Imari Blond, Flint Kearsley bowling - Read
January 17: William Dunn, Quincy basketball - Read
November 29:
Dequan Finn, Detroit Martin Luther King football - Read
November 22: Paige Briggs, Lake Orion volleyball - Read
November 15:
Hunter Nowak, Morrice football - Read
November 8:
Jon Dougherty, Detroit Country Day soccer - Read
November 1:
Jordan Stump, Camden-Frontier volleyball - Read
October 25:
Danielle Staskowski, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golf - Read
October 18:
Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4:
Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Alpena's Chris DeRocher follows through on a free-throw attempt during last week's win over Sault Ste. Marie. (Middle) DeRocher controls a loose ball in the lane. (Photos by Sports in Motion.)

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)