Pressure? No problem as Our Lady Advances

March 24, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – The bright lights have worn off for Waterford Our Lady’s seniors.

And that might have made all the difference over the final minutes of what could’ve been their final high school basketball game.

Andrew Kline and brothers Clay and Devin Senerius brought the Lakers to the Class D Semifinals a year ago for the first time since 1993, and they just missed a football championship losing by seven points in the Division 8 Final this fall.

So when the score of Thursday’s first Class D Semifinal sat tied for the seventh time with 5:49 to play, the Our Lady seniors weren’t phased by the building Breslin Center pressure.

The Lakers closed on a 15-3 run to finally break away from Wyoming Tri-unity Christian and earn their first MHSAA championship game appearance with a 64-53 victory.

“Playing on the big stage, it’s not as hard as it used to be,” said Devin Senerius, who led four Our Lady players with 17 points. “At the beginning of last year, at the Semifinals we were all nervous. And then at the state finals (for football), we were a little nervous. Now we all just wanted to win instead of lose.”

They’ve got a chance to win one more time, and for the first time in program history on the final day of the season, when they face Powers North Central at 10 a.m. in Saturday’s Class D Final. 

The Lakers (22-4) were ranked No. 3 at the end of the regular season, so this run was hardly a surprise. But they also lost the final two games before the District began, putting the senior leaders in a position to pull their team back on track.

Our Lady responded by winning four of seven tournament games by at least 10 points.

“First off, it’s their personality. They want to win, and that’s vital,” Our Lady coach Paul Robak said. “It doesn’t matter if it is basketball, football, whatever; they want to win. That’s the most important part of the culture, teaching that not only to others in their class but the younger classes.

“We took a step backward toward the end of the year, and we got a little sloppy. But to their credit, we went back to being more competitive on the practice floor. And it starts with these three guys.”

Still, the final score Thursday was not indicative of how close the game stayed until the final six minutes.

To that point, neither team built a lead of more than six points. From 2:25 to play in the second quarter until 1:17 remained, neither team got ahead by more than four. There were 14 lead changes, seven in the third quarter and five during the fourth.

There would be only one run – and it would belong to Our Lady.

Kline scored nine of his 15 points during the final go-ahead drive, while Tri-unity Christian made only 1 of 9 shots from the floor during the final six minutes.   

“Coach told us it’s crunch time,” Kline said. “We’ve got to buckle down. We knew we were the better team.”

Freshman Noah Robak added 12 points and Clay Senerius had 11 for Our Lady. Devin had 12 rebounds and Clay added 10 and six assists as the Lakers outrebounded the Defenders 37-15.

Senior guard Collin Rosendall led Tri-unity (20-6) with 17 points and four steals, and senior forward Javi Cuevas had 12 points and four assists.

Although the Defenders made a decent 44 percent of its shots from the floor, they connected on only 7 of 27 tries from 3-point range – struggling at what’s usually a strength.

“All year long we’ve done a good job of maintaining the bleeding on the boards,” Tri-unity coach Mark Keeler said. “Tonight we didn’t do a good job of that. They have good shooters and I think they knocked down key shots at the right time.

"They stayed in their zone, and I was happy they stayed in their zone because our 3-point shooting is normally good. But it failed us at the end.”

Click for the full box score.

The Boys Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Our Lady’s Clay Senerius looks for an opening while Tri-unity’s Javi Cuevas defends. (Middle) The Defenders’ Collin Rosendall works to get past a Lakers player during the Class D Semifinal.

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.)