East Jordan senior – Basketball
Nine seconds into his team's new season, Weber became East Jordan’s all-time leading scorer. The 6-foot senior guard drilled a deep 3-pointer on his team's first possession against opening-night opponent Mancelona to break the former record of 1,170 points set by Mike Goebel from 1983-86 and earn this week’s Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week.” (See below for video of his history-making shot and the brief recognition that followed .) He finished with 24 points total in the 66-20 road win.
Heading into tonight’s game against Charlevoix, Weber has 1,193 points and a number of additional school records: 45 points scored in a game, 614 for one season, 91 3-pointers in one season and 208 3-pointers over his four-year varsity career. His 3-pointers last season were the 13th-most in MHSAA history, and with a similar output this winter he’ll finish among the top five on the career list. Weber has played big parts in multiple history-making team accomplishments as well. As a sophomore, he helped Class C East Jordan to its first District championship since 1997 and first Regional championship since 1953. He has a few more similar opportunities ahead. The Red Devils went a combined 36-11 over the last two seasons finishing second and then third in the Lake Michigan Conference – and this winter should again contend for a first league championship since 2000. They also are possible contenders while seeking their first MHSAA championship.
Weber also plays baseball, and he is ranked eighth academically of 63 students in his graduating class with a 3.66 grade-point average while taking multiple Advanced Placement courses. He has opportunities to continue his basketball and academic career at multiple small colleges in Michigan and Illinois, and would like to eventually study physical therapy.
Coach (and father) Darrin Weber said: “Jordan has been fortunate to have outstanding teammates. Without the kids he’s played with, none of these accomplishments would have been possible. He has a great understanding of the game, outstanding offseason work ethic and an extremely high competitive drive. He has been the best player I have ever coached."
Performance Point: “Obviously it was an honor to get that. I was preparing for that game just like I was preparing for any other game, but it was in the back of my mind. Going in, I just wanted to win the game. I didn’t want to take over, force myself to get the record. I just let the game get to me, and it happened in the first nine seconds. If I’m open, it’s going up. To become the all-time leader in anything is a big deal, in any level of play, if they are going to stop the game and congratulate you. But it was just that I needed two more points; the dream for me (instead) would be to win the state title.
Title aspirations: “To win a conference title, it’s a lot more important than just to win the District title or anything like that. It means we’re playing better than anyone in the conference the whole year. “(In the MHSAA Tournament,) we’re like a Cinderella team, like an eight seed, nine or 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It motivates me just to get that spotlight on the team, small East Jordan down there making it that far.”
Father knows best: “I get two points of view from the same person. There’s the coaching standpoint, and then I go home and talk to him as Dad. He’s hard on me in practice, and I like that. I don’t want a soft coach. Then, to love a father figure in this game I love … he’s coached me since elementary school, and we’ve always been able to connect like that.”
He’s got game: “I’m not just going to sit in the corner and shoot. I’m going to create my shot, going to create shots for other people. I like to get my shot off quickly like (Golden State’s) Steph Curry does. I like to try to attack the rim as hard as (Oklahoma City’s) Russell Westbrook does. Try to, at least.”
Leaving a legacy: “I like to leave something like that, for kids coming up to all want to shoot like Jordan Weber. There’s a little youth program my dad holds every Saturday, and I haven’t missed a Saturday. All the kids love seeing me there … (and I like) to be a role model for little kids.”
– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize 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, respond 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 protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2015-16 honorees
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) East Jordan's Jordan Weber unloads a shot during a game last season; he set his school's career scoring record last week against Mancelona. (Middle) Weber, right, poses with his dad and coach Darrin Weber. (Photos courtesy of the Weber family.)
HOWARDSVILLE - There is a sign that hangs inside Howardsville Christian School's tiny gymnasium that accurately depicts the mission for the Eagles during the 2023-24 boys basketball season.
It reads "In Jesus' name we play."
Ken Sparks and the eight players on his varsity basketball roster have challenged themselves to help one another understand what it means to give their season to God.
"My goal is to help these boys find gratitude in playing for a greater power than themselves," said Sparks, a varsity standout himself at Howardsville from 1996-2000, member of the 1,000-point club and an honorable mention all-stater his senior year.
Nestled on the border between St. Joseph and Cass counties along Bent Road, Howardsville Christian, a Division 4 school for its sports with fewer than 80 students, has enjoyed a rich tradition of spiritual learning both in the classroom and on the court and playing fields.
The contribution of many talented athletes from several families has been instrumental in Howardsville's athletic success for years, especially this school year.
Howardsville won District titles this fall in boys soccer and girls volleyball. Now the Eagles hope to carry that momentum over to the basketball court.
With four starters returning, Sparks is looking for Howardsville’s boys team to battle for supremacy in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph League and improve on a 13-10 record from last season. The Eagles finished 7-7 in the league last winter and endured a disappointing District Semifinal loss to Marcellus. Howardsville Christian had won its District the season in 2021.
"We competed well with all the teams on our schedule and lost to some teams we shouldn't have," Sparks said. "There are eight teams in our conference, and this season we need to beat Benton Harbor Countryside to be the top team. It's been a good league for us."
Senior twin brothers Colin and Dylan Muldoon return for Howardsville, along with junior cousin Kaden Sparks, son of the head coach, and junior John Paul Rose.
The Muldoon brothers both are beginning their third year as varsity starters.
"Working together as a team is something we really want to do well. A lot of teams set a goal of winning Districts. The last two years we've fallen short of that goal. It's definitely something we want to achieve this year," Colin Muldoon said.
Dylan Muldoon echoed that sentiment.
"Our success in soccer makes us want to attain the same goals in basketball. We know we are capable of reaching those, so I think it makes us want to pull things together," Dylan Muldoon said. "There's a lot of long-distance running in soccer, but there's also a lot of quickness and turning in basketball, especially when you're guarding or driving around someone. You just have to be quick."
Kaden Sparks, another three-year starter, will be Howardsville's best shooting guard.
"Winning Districts is achievable. We have to learn to work together. I played summer ball, and the biggest takeaway is that it taught me that I have to always give 100-percent effort out there. We had a great soccer season, and It’s taught us a lot about accountability," Kaden Sparks said.
Rose will be Howardsville Christian's starting point guard. He has been a starter since his freshman year, along with Kaden Sparks.
"The team chemistry and communication we had in soccer easily transfers over to basketball. As our point guard, it's important for me to try to get the ball to other guys who have open looks," Rose said. "I want to be more aggressive defensively, push the ball up the floor more and increase my scoring."
In addition, Ken Sparks believes the physicality a majority of his team learned from soccer will be a big benefit on the basketball floor.
"You build up your physicality from playing soccer with having to always body up. Watching them play sometimes hurts me, but that's what I want them to do in basketball. It helps them to want to draw contact and be physical on the floor," Ken Sparks said.
The lack of upperclassmen on Howardsville's varsity the last couple of years gave Rose and Kaden Sparks an immediate opportunity to play as freshmen.
"The fact John Paul and Kaden had that early chance at the varsity level is really paying off now,” Ken Sparks added. “Kaden is an excellent shooter. I want him to get the confidence that I had when I was in high school. He tends to be a little more passive on the floor than I like, but he's finally getting that aggressive nature that you need offensively.”
Kaden, Colin Muldoon and Rose all averaged double-digit scoring last season, while Dylan Muldoon is the Eagles' best defensive player. The Muldoon brothers will serve as Howardsville's team captains.
"Kaden is very self-motivated to become a better basketball player. His goal is to be the best player that he can be," Ken Sparks said. "John Paul is explosive and has really refined his jump shot to where he can be a scoring threat. He sees the floor very well and can really push the ball up the floor without turning it over. We're going to see big strides from him because of his determination and drive.
"Colin is a great overall player. He's a threat from the outside and can score inside with his height as well. If we're going to be successful, he and Dylan have to bring the same drive that John Paul and Kaden bring to the court.”
"I've coached all of the guys on our team for the last three seasons except one,” Sparks added. “We talk about being well-rounded. These guys are the best academically and spiritual leaders in our school."
Howardsville Christian’s most well-known alumni is Dylan Jergens, the third-leading scorer in state history with 2,782 career points.
During the fall soccer season, the Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose helped Howardsville win a second-straight District title. The Eagles then lost 5-0 in the Regional Semifinal to eventual Division 4 champion Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Both Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose were named to the first-team all-BCS and District soccer squads.
The Muldoons were the two main catalysts in the Eagles' soccer run, along with Lukas Krueger. Dylan Muldoon had 28 goals and nine assists, while Colin Muldoon posted 14 goals and eight assists. Krueger added 19 goals to go with 16 assists. Kaden Sparks had five goals and four assists, and Rose added three goals and three assists.
Steve Muldoon, Colin and Dylan's father and Howardsville's head boys soccer coach, sees many correlations between soccer and basketball that will bring the Eagles success in hoops this winter.
"Communication is key. A team that doesn't talk on the field/court isn't going to win. They learn how to correct and encourage one another to deal with problems without getting too negative," Steve Muldoon said. "Individually, they learn how to anticipate. There isn't much difference between anticipating a pass and stepping in front of it in soccer or basketball or making a hard run down the court/field to get open for a layup/counterattack. They learn how to react and make the correct decision under pressure. The skills needed to do it in soccer and basketball are different, but most of it is mental and that carries over."
Determination was another big factor for Howardsville's soccer success this fall.
"We beat Lansing Christian this fall in a weekend soccer tournament and they are a much bigger and physical team than us, but we managed to beat them," Colin Muldoon said. "That win gave us a lot of confidence for the remainder of the season that we could beat anyone."
The family dynamic doesn't stop with Howardsville's boys basketball team.
Senior Kyla Sparks, Ken's daughter and Kaden's older sister, is one of three cousins on the roster for a Howardsville girls team that finished 12-11 last year. All five starters are back for that Eagles team as well.
"As a team, we want to improve on last year's record. With all our starters back, we feel we have a good shot to finish at the top of both our conference and District. Most of our basketball team also played volleyball this fall, and we view us all as family," Kyla Sparks said. "Being able to play with my two cousins makes good lifelong memories."
Kyla Sparks, who averaged 12 points per game her junior year, starts with sophomore cousins Kelsie Muldoon and Kate Evans. Those three also started on the varsity volleyball team that captured its first District title since 1997.
Coincidently, the mothers of Kyla, Kelsie and Kate were all on the 1997 District champion volleyball team.
Scott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Colin Muldoon drives to the basket against his twin brother Dylan Muldoon during recent Howardsville Christian boys basketball practice. (Middle) Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. (Below) The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (Top and middle photos by Scott Hassinger. District championship photos courtesy of Howardsville Christian School.)