Powers North Central junior - Boys Basketball
Whitens has played his share of big games as quarterback of this school year’s MHSAA 8-player football champion and leading scorer on the basketball team that won the Class D title in 2015 with a perfect record. North Central’s 39-game winning streak was on the line as the Jets trailed Class B Menominee by six points with eight minutes to play Feb. 9. The 6-foot-5 Whitens earned the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week” by scoring 11 of his game-high 31 points during the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead layup with seven seconds left as North Central held on for a 64-60 win.
North Central has since extended its winning streak to 42 straight with a 15-0 start to this winter. Whitens averages 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game, making 57 percent of his shots from the floor and 78 percent of his free-throw attempts – all while playing an average of 25 minutes and taking only 15 shots per game for a team outscoring opponents 76-39 on average. He’s scored more than 1,100 points in leading North Central to a combined 67-1 record over his first three seasons.
In addition to earning the Associated Press’ 8-player Player of the Year honor in the fall after throwing 45 touchdown passes without an interception, Whitens also plays outfield for the baseball team and high jumps and runs the 400, 800 and on a relay for the track & field team during the spring. Whitens carries a 3.8 grade-point average and is considering a career in marketing. He has a Division II basketball scholarship offer, with Division I programs also interested.
Coach Adam Mercier said: “Players of Jason’s caliber tend to be the focal point on offense by getting shots up, whereas Jason finds the open man and doesn’t worry about individual statistics. He can play any of the five positions on the floor with his size and is a tremendous ball handler capable of running the point position. His athleticism is off the charts, as noticed on the football field being a two-time all-state player at quarterback and wide receiver. Jason is one of the best open court players I’ve ever seen as he has the ability to quickly process all possible options and then either dunk it (he has 12 this season) or make an on-point pass to a teammate. He is a very humble young man who doesn’t let success get to his head. Jason is always willing to help out young students who want to work on their game. My two sons look up to him, along with the other outstanding young men who represent our team. He sets a great example of what being a true student-athlete is all about.”
Performance Point: “Going into the fourth (quarter), I knew I had to step up, being down by 10 to a very good team. But we knew from our past experiences – we’ve got experience in big games, close games – that we had to pull together and get the win. We’re all big competitors in practice and in school, even hanging out. That’s the competitive nature we have, and that just translates to the game.”
42 straight and counting: “We’re just all out here having fun ... and when you’re winning, it makes it 10 times better. We just like to have fun with each other. We’ll have bigger things in life as we go along than a football or basketball game. (So) we just go out, do the best we can, and play the sport we love.”
Multi-sport master: “It’s something I’ve done since I was little. I just love playing sports, going out there with my best friends and just competing. We’re all competitive, and that’s the best part – going out and having fun. Morgan Cox … came here freshman year. (Otherwise,) every single one of us has been playing with each other since third and fourth grade. We all know what we like to do on the court, know what spots we like to be in. Each and every one has got my back, and I’ve got theirs.”
Everyone has a part: “We all have our specific roles. We have the jokesters; we’re all pretty funny, or we like to think we’re funny. We know when to get each other up. There’s not a guy that won’t make the other person better. We’re all close-knit, and when the time comes I like to step up, get everybody going. I fall into that leadership role.”
Learning from a leader: “I followed my cousin Rob (Granquist, the previous quarterback) into the leadership role. (He taught me) that whole, ‘Be cool and calm through anything.’ You can’t have ups and downs; you’ve got to stay even keel so when your teammates look at you, you’ve got to look back and let them know everything is all right.”
– 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, 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 protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2015-16 honorees
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) North Central's Jason Whitens launches a jumpshot this season against Big Bay de Noc. (Middle) Whitens throws down one of his many dunks. (Photos courtesy of the Escanaba Daily Press.)
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.