Saints' Kreski Sets Bar for U.P. Scoring

April 11, 2016

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

Basketball is all about scoring points and stopping teams from scoring.

Gage Kreski of St. Ignace is one of those rare players who excel on both ends of the floor.

Kreski eclipsed a 51-year-old Upper Peninsula scoring record this season while also establishing himself as a defensive ball hawk. That production helped him become Associated Press Class C Player of the Year in Michigan. He was also a three-time Division 7-8 all-state football selection.

Kreski finished his four-year basketball career with 2,178 points, surpassing the mark of 2,140 points set by Dom (Duke) Jacobetti of Negaunee St. Paul from 1962-65. Kreski also became his school's all-time points leader, topping Krista Clement's 2,060. Steve McDonald was the previous boys pace-setter with 1,972.

Just two years ago, Lexi Gussert of Crystal Falls Forest Park became the all-time girls – and overall – scoring leader in the U.P. with 2,630 points. Allison Bailey of Ewen-Trout Creek had set the previous girls mark of 2,131 points in 1996.

"I was not focused on the record," Kreski said recently while on spring break in Panama Beach, Fla. "My goal was to make it deep into the playoffs."

The Saints (17-4), however, were upset by Boyne City in their Class C District opener.

A 6-foot-3, 195-pound point guard who frequently took his defender inside, Kreski scored 519 points this season. His career points will rank 15th on the MHSAA's career list for that category.

On defense, he set an MHSAA record with 450 career steals (Matt Taylor of Pinckney had 363 through 2000). Kreski also set a single-season record of 137 steals this school year and pulled down more than 900 rebounds during his career.

"I like scoring points, but defense is more important and I liked it a little more because I had to do the job," Kreski said, noting coach Doug Ingalls is a stickler about defense, highlighted by frenetic full-court pressure. "Defense first for sure.You play all-out on defense the whole game and the offense goes from there."

Ingalls also runs an offense similar to what he played under his dad, Jack, at Gladstone High School, using a motion approach – or perhaps freelance to a degree.

"We don't have many sets, but we know how to play basketball," Kreski said.

"For us to be good, he had to score a lot. It was all about winning for him," said Ingalls.

Ingalls admitted Kreski's weakness was shooting, but that he made up for it with a sterling overall game. "He has great instincts and is a very, very good athlete," said Ingalls. "I would get on his case because sometimes he was not aggressive enough going for steals. He has the length, the quickness and is savvy. He can guard anybody.

"He gets to the bucket and gets his points in many different ways. I can't imagine anyone being a better all-around basketball player. He is so good at making the right decision. He passes as well as anybody.”

At a time when perimeter scoring is stressed more and more – think of Steph Curry and other potent sharp shooters – Kreski made fewer than 35 shots beyond the 3-point arc this season.

That was drastically different than the method used by Jacobetti, whose career ended more than 20 years before the 3-point shot was adopted. A wing guard for three years before replacing his graduated brother at the point for his final season, Jacobetti's normal shot was from the perimeter, and usually well past today's 3-point arc.

He estimated perhaps 70 percent of his field goal attempts were outside that line, yet he unbelievably converted about 85 percent of his shots. "I shot basically from outside," Jacobetti said. 

During his era, many small-school gyms were tiny, with well below regulation-sized floors that allowed offenses to get the ball into scoring range quickly. The feet of spectators often were on the playing floor, and at some gyms the base line was painted on the wall while the three jump circles were often intertwined. Jacobetti pointed out, "You didn't have much room to run an offense."

In his first game on the varsity as a freshman, Jacobetti scored 22 points and did not miss a field goal or free throw. He averaged about 12 points as a freshman, and then raised it to 22, 28 and 32 points per game, respectively, over his final three seasons.

Asked about a potential career behind the arc, Jacobetti said he has not really thought about it much because it wasn't part of the game at that time. "Wherever you had a shot from, you took it," he said of a fairly simple yet very effective approach.

Jacobetti finished three points ahead of Trout Creek legend Jim Manning, who finished his ended in 1961 with 2,137 points. Jacobetti's career ended in a tournament loss at Pickford and he recalled a Sault Ste. Marie sportswriter informing him after the game that he had just set the Upper Peninsula scoring record.

"I was shocked. I had no idea (about the record)," he said, noting it was not a big deal at the time, perhaps because it was only four years old. "It wasn't talked about a great deal."

Jacobetti only remembers one time in his career when scoring was stressed. His coach at the time, Gordy LeDuc, told him the offense would run through him in a game at Negaunee's Lakeview Arena. Just a night earlier, Pat Groleau of Nahma scored 48 points and LeDuc said, "Duke, tonight you're going to break the record." 

Jacobetti scored 52 points, but he said, "I didn't feel comfortable because everybody was giving me the ball."

Jacobetti and Kreski share the same idea about basketball. Jacobetti said, "It was win or lose, not really about the points." Kreski, in a telephone chat about 30 minutes earlier, said, "I just tried to win the game. It (McDonald's record) was a goal but winning was first, and for us to win games I had to score a little bit."

He knew about McDonald's mark, obviously, but didn't learn about Jacobetti's record until he was within about 300 points. "It was not the most important thing on my mind," he said.

He said Ingalls told him, "We're not going to do anything that we normally don't do. If it happens, it happens."

It happened Feb. 27 when Kreski produced a single-game best 46 points against Pellston.

While Jacobetti's record lasted 51 years, Kreski's could be erased next season. Jason Whitens of two-time defending Class D champion Powers North Central has already amassed 1,409 points. Whitens scored 623 points this season.

"Records are made to be broken," said Jacobetti. "I never expected it to last as long as it did. Give that kid a lot of credit. I am very happy for him. He sure put in a lot of work and a lot of time. It is quite an accomplishment. I realize what it takes. I put in hours and hours myself (much of it on outdoor courts during winter with snow banks towering around the surface), and I know he did."

Ingalls confirmed that opinion. "I'm disappointed that other varsity basketball coaches didn't have the chance to coach him. They would be amazed at how hard he works.

"That work ethic comes from his parents. His dad Paul played football at Northern Michigan University, and his mother Deanna was a basketball player at NMU and was named to the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

"I have good genes, I guess," Kreski said, noting how both parents have put in time helping him pursue his hoops career. "They never really forced me to play or go work out. They made sure I had a positive attitude and (knew) how to be a good man.

"They have just been awesome in my life. They have had a great impact."
He said Ingalls "has been the man. He did everything for me, and my parents have been there for me all the time. Doug's wife (St. Ignace girls basketball coach Dorene) has pretty much raised me."

Kreski will finish his basketball career at the U.P. All-Star Classic in Marquette on June 18. He will put all his athletic focus on football when he reports to Central Michigan University as an invited walk-on in August. The all-state football player (he played quarterback and defensive back for the Saints) will likely play safety but could also become a wide receiver.

"My body is a little better suited for football," he acknowledged. "To be a point guard in Division I (basketball) you have to be 6-4 and be extremely lightning quick. I'm quick, but not lightning quick."

Just as he has adopted a sensible approach to his athletic future, knowing where he fits and where he may not, Kreski did everything he could to help the Saints before worrying about his personal achievements.

"I'm extremely proud of him and happy for him. I will follow his career at Central," said Jacobetti, who hopes to meet Kreski at the U.P. All-Star Classic.

Top five U.P. boys basketball scorers

2,178 - Gage Kreski, St. Ignace, 2012-2016
2,140 - Dominic Jacobetti, Negaunee St. Paul, 1961-65
2,137 - Jim Manning, Trout Creek, 1957-61
2,086 - Bob Gale, Trout Creek, 1962-66
2,010 - Jim Hammerberg, Baraga, 1992-96

Denny Grall retired in 2012 after 39 years at the Escanaba Daily Press and four at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, plus 15 months for WLST radio in Escanaba; he served as the Daily Press sports editor from 1970-80 and again from 1984-2012. Grall was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and serves as its executive secretary. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for the Upper Peninsula.

PHOTO: (Top) Gage Kreski pushes the ball upcourt during a game against Pickford in 2015. (Middle) Dom Jacobetti was the previous Upper Peninsula career scoring record holder. (Top photo by Paul Gerard; bottom courtesy of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.)

Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Boys District Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 26, 2024

Being “Breslin Bound” takes on a whole new meaning starting tonight for more than 700 boys basketball teams across Michigan.

MI Student AidDistrict play begins this evening, and two weeks from Thursday we’ll be tipping off our first Semifinals at Michigan State University.

We always switch up our “Breslin Bound” format just a bit once the MHSAA Tournament starts, as last week’s most intriguing results below are followed this time by glances at three District brackets of note in each division. Host sites are bolded, and teams playing in those brackets are listed in order of how they stack up by Michigan Power Rating (MPR), with the top seeds listed first.

Everything you could want to know this week about tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Boys Basketball page. To watch any of several games online, visit the NFHS Network.

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

Week in Review

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

2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 73, Detroit Cass Tech 41 If this Operation Friendship win for the Eaglets (20-1) over reigning Division 1 champion Cass Tech (20-2) is an indication of its momentum heading into the postseason, watch out.

2. Saline 69, Ann Arbor Huron 60 The Hornets (18-4) finished Southeastern Conference Red play by downing then co-leader Huron (17-4) to clinch the league championship outright.

3. Dearborn 65, Canton 52 The Pioneers (22-0) claimed the overall Kensington Lakes Activities Association title and finished a perfect regular season with a solid win over KLAA West champ Canton (18-4).

4. Saginaw Heritage 80, Flint Powers Catholic 40 The Hawks (18-3) clinched a share of their eventual outright Saginaw Valley League title, made more impressive as eight of the league’s 13 teams including Powers (17-5) finished above .500 for the regular season.

5. Mancelona 54, Bellaire 52 Although the Ironmen (17-5) lost their regular-season finale to Charlevoix two days later, this win was the one they needed as it secured a shared Ski Valley Conference title with Bellaire (18-4).

Laingsburg’s Zander Woodruff (23) puts up a shot during his team’s 90-27 win over Bath last week.

Districts at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:


Detroit Martin Luther King
No. 1 Detroit Cass Tech (20-2), No. 2 Grosse Pointe South (18-4), Detroit Martin Luther King (14-6), Detroit Western (10-10), Grosse Pointe North (9-12).

The reigning Division 1 champion Technicians have been mostly unstoppable again, with their only loss besides last week’s to St. Mary’s (see above) coming to Zeeland West (15-7) on Jan. 20 in East Kentwood. Cass Tech opens against GPN in a District Semifinal, and all three opponents on the other side of the bracket could make for a strong District Final matchup. GPS is coming off a league tournament championship and has won 13 of its last 14 games. The Blue Devils will see in their District Semifinal the King/Western winner; Western gave Cass Tech a four-point game earlier this season before losing the rematch 69-42, and King took Cass Tech to overtime in their Jan. 24 matchup.

No. 1 East Lansing (20-2), No. 2 Okemos (18-4), Mason (20-2), Holt (9-13), Lansing Everett (9-11).

East Lansing has been among the leaders in Division 1 MPR all season and entered second on the list only to St. Mary’s (see above), with its only losses to St. Mary’s and Warren Lincoln. Holt gave East Lansing a nine-point game in their second meeting Feb. 12, but otherwise the Trojans defeated the Rams and Everett by solid margins. But the District Final matchup against either Okemos or Mason – which face each other Wednesday – should be much more challenging. East Lansing did sweep the regular-season series with the Wolves, 66-54 and 68-55, but winning that third matchup often is tougher – and the home-team Bulldogs would bring some unfamiliarity if they advance instead.

Muskegon Mona Shores
No. 1 Muskegon (19-2), No. 2 Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (19-3), Muskegon Mona Shores (14-8), Greenville (13-9), Cedar Springs (4-18).

The Muskegon High/Reeths-Puffer matchups were among the most followed this regular season, as Reeths-Puffer stunned the reigning Division 1 runner-up 63-45 on Jan. 30, but Muskegon came back to win the rematch 48-28 on Feb. 9. They ended up sharing the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green championship (with Mona Shores fourth) and would see each other again in Friday’s District Final. The Rockets face Mona Shores in a District Semifinal on one side of the bracket, while Muskegon may see Greenville – which finished fifth in an O-K White that was one of the deepest leagues in the state.


Detroit Pershing
No. 1 Warren Lincoln (17-4), No. 2 Ferndale (13-8), Detroit Pershing (11-8), Detroit Osborn (10-11), Hazel Park (7-15), Ferndale University (3-18).

Lincoln is the only team that’s been among the top two in Division 2 MPR to begin every week since the start of the calendar year, and its only losses were to Division 1 opponents who all won at least 15 games this season. But Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion and also has remained high on that MPR list in part because of its loaded schedule. The Eagles are 9-3 over their last 12, with all of their losses this season to Division 1 opponents – and seven of those defeats to teams that finished the regular season among the top 18 on the statewide D1 MPR list.

Hudsonville Unity Christian
No. 1 Grand Rapids Christian (20-2), No. 2 Hudsonville Unity Christian (18-4), Grand Rapids South Christian (17-5), Wyoming Godwin Heights (16-5), Kentwood Grand River Prep (13-6), Wyoming Kelloggsville (2-20).

Grand Rapids Christian has spent most of the season at the top of the statewide Division 2 MPR list, with its only losses to Warren Lincoln, by two Jan. 20, and then by six to Division 1 Byron Center on Feb. 6. The Eagles face one of the strongest Districts in any division this week, and have seen only one possible opponent – South Christian, who they defeated 58-48 on Dec. 5. South Christian, Godwin Heights and Unity all are on the other side of the bracket, and the Sailors defeated Unity 58-56 in their lone meeting Dec. 15. Godwin Heights faces South Christian tonight and has won 12 of its last 14.

No. 1 Ludington (16-6), No. 2 Reed City (18-4), Big Rapids (16-6), Manistee (10-12), Hart (12-10), Mason County Central (9-13).

Ludington was the runner-up in the West Michigan Conference Lakes to undefeated Whitehall, and the Orioles have won 10 of their last 12 games with only defeats to Whitehall and Division 1 Cadillac (20-2) breaking up the string. They could be in for a tough matchup right away Wednesday; Manistee and Big Rapids face off tonight on that side of the bracket, and Big Rapids finished last week with a 48-46 win over Reed City in the Central State Activities Association Tournament final. The Coyotes also lost to Cadillac over the last two weeks, but already have a win over possible District Semifinal opponent Mason County Central and did defeat Big Rapids in their first meeting Dec. 8, 49-30. And don’t forget Hart, which went 23-1 just a year ago and has won nine of its last 12 after a slow start.


No. 1 Charlevoix (17-5), No. 2 Harbor Springs (15-7), Mancelona (17-5), Elk Rapids (15-7), East Jordan (8-14), Johannesburg-Lewiston (6-16).

This District includes two league champions – but not the teams one might expect by the seeding. Elk Rapids won the Lake Michigan Conference with Charlevoix and Harbor Springs tied for second, and Mancelona (see above) was the co-champion in the Ski Valley Conference. The Elks have won 11 straight games and swept both Charlevoix and Harbor Springs, making a 1-6 start this winter a distant memory. They are on the same side of the bracket as Mancelona and Charlevoix and face Mancelona tonight; the Ironmen are coming off a 65-37 loss to Charlevoix last week but did open this season with a 50-41 win over Harbor Springs.

East Jackson
No. 1 Jackson Lumen Christi (18-4), 2. Michigan Center (19-3), Napoleon (19-3), Springport (15-7), East Jackson (8-14).

This District features three league champs, as Lumen Christi shared the Catholic High School League AA title, and Michigan Center and Napoleon were co-champions of the Cascades Conference East – with Napoleon then winning the crossover with West champ Hanover-Horton last week. Michigan Center claimed the first Napoleon matchup 50-38 on Dec. 21, while Napoleon won the second 50-44 on Jan. 25, and they wouldn’t see each other again until the District Final. To get there, Michigan Center will have to get through East Jackson and Lumen – and the Titans took a 72-65 win over the Cardinals on Dec. 28. Napoleon faces Springport in the other District Semifinal, the Spartans coming off a third-place finish in the Big 8 Conference.

Harbor Beach
No. 1 Cass City (21-1), No. 2 Harbor Beach (19-3), Caro (12-9), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (13-9), Bad Axe (6-16), Unionville-Sebewaing (5-17).

This could see another colossal District Final matchup, as Cass City’s only loss this winter was 56-43 to Harbor Beach on Feb. 9. But both could run into obstacles on the way to Friday. Cass City faces the winner of Caro and USA in a District Semifinal, and while the Red Hawks swept both during the regular season, they defeated Caro only 62-60 in their second meeting Feb. 2. Harbor Beach won their single matchups with possible District Semifinal opponents Laker and Bad Axe, both by double digits – but both Laker and Bad Axe gave Cass City nail-biters only a few weeks ago.


Adrian Lenawee Christian
No. 1 Adrian Lenawee Christian (19-3), No. 2 Britton Deerfield (16-6), Petersburg Summerfield (18-4), Ann Arbor Central Academy (6-13), Morenci (1-20).

Lenawee Christian won the Tri-County Conference and Petersburg Summerfield finished tied for second, with Lenawee winning their matchups 69-62 on Jan. 16 and 56-53 on Feb. 9. They will meet in the second District Semifinal on Wednesday, with Britton Deerfield on the other side of the bracket. The Patriots finished fourth in the TCC and also were swept by Lenawee Christian, but they did split with Summerfield, winning the first meeting 42-41 on Dec. 8 as part of a 9-0 start and before the Bulldogs won the rematch 59-53 on Jan. 23.

No. 1 Marcellus Howardsville Christian (17-5), No. 2 Colon (13-8), Mendon (14-8), Burr Oak (13-9), Marcellus (9-11), Athens (0-22).

Howardsville Christian finished third in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference and has won eight straight and 10 of its last 11 games after a tough January stretch that included a 69-51 loss to Mendon on Jan. 20. Mendon isn’t seeded but did tie Colon for third in the Southern Central Athletic Association West (with Burr Oak fifth), defeating the Magi 55-50 in its season opener but then losing to Colon 65-50 in the Jan. 19 rematch. Mendon and Howardsville Christian could see each other again Wednesday, if the Hornets get by Burr Oak tonight, with Colon on the other side of the bracket.

Maple City Glen Lake
No. 1 Maple City Glen Lake (18-4), No. 2 Frankfort (15-7), Traverse City Christian (16-6), Suttons Bay (7-13), Lake Leelanau St. Mary (7-14), Leland (4-17), Grand Traverse Academy (2-20).

Glen Lake moved into Division 4 this season and enters the tournament 18-4 for the second straight and with victories over every team in this bracket except Grand Traverse, which the Lakers didn’t play. Glen Lake finished second in the Northwest Conference to Division 3 Benzie Central, but did sweep Frankfort along the way and also defeated Traverse City Christian 69-41 on Jan. 19. Another matchup with either would come in the District Final, and Frankfort and TC Christian face off tonight, at TC Christian, for the first time this season. Frankfort reached the Division 4 Semifinals a year ago and defeated a pair of league champions last week in Rudyard and Baldwin to tune up for another run.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). 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 scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) Saginaw Heritage’s Tyler Ode throws down a dunk during his team’s 80-40 win Thursday over Flint Powers Catholic. (Middle) Laingsburg’s Zander Woodruff (23) puts up a shot during his team’s 90-27 win over Bath last week. (Top photo by Terry Lyons, middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)