Schoolcraft Completes Breslin Return This Time as D3's Best

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 26, 2022

EAST LANSING – Last season, the Schoolcraft boys basketball team came close to reaching its ultimate goal.

A year later, the Eagles were motivated to take that next step and complete what they started. 

Schoolcraft defeated overall top seed Menominee 59-49 on Saturday in the Division 3 Final at Breslin Center.

The Eagles (25-2) won the program’s first Finals title since claiming Class C in 2011.

Schoolcraft advanced to the Semifinals last year and lost to Iron Mountain in overtime.

“Last year it was really cool for us to get here, but we wanted more,” said senior Ty Rykse, who helped lead Schoolcraft with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Schoolcraft/Menominee basketball“We came into practice wanting more, and we didn't just expect to show up here and be satisfied with a great season. We wanted to win it.”

Rykse’s younger brother, sophomore Shane Rykse, also contributed sizably with 15 points as the Eagles held off a late run by the Maroons. 

“We had a chip on our shoulder since Day 1, and especially against Flint Beecher (in Thursday’s Semifinal win),” Shane Rykse said. “We were counted out from the start, but we found a way to get it done.”

Ty Rykse had nine of the team’s first 15 points.

The Eagles got off to a hot start and shot a torrid 72 percent (8-of-11) from the field in the first quarter en route to a double-digit advantage (20-10).

The Maroons trimmed the deficit to 24-18 in the second quarter. However, Schoolcraft’s Eli DeVisser scored on a nifty pass from Ty Rykse during the final 30 seconds to push the lead back to 31-20 at the half. 

Shane Rykse helped extend the lead late in the third quarter. A driving scoop lay-up with the left hand and an ensuing 3-pointer gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 46-28.

“They are a great tandem,” Schoolcraft coach Randy Small said of the Rykse brothers. “Ty’s leadership is phenomenal, and it was very important for him to treat his brother like a teammate.”

Eli DeVisser also finished in double figures with 14 points, while senior Tyler DeGroote had a game-high 12 rebounds and seven points. 

The Eagles outrebounded the Maroons 40-25 and shot 47 percent for the game, including 50 percent (6-of-12) from behind the 3-point line.

“I thought our preparation was pretty good, and I think overall we did a pretty decent job,” Small said. “We rebounded the ball better in the second half and we continued to shoot the ball well, so I was proud of that. We hit our open shots for the most part, and it's special to get here two years in a row."

Schoolcraft/Menominee basketballThe Maroons got to within 53-45 with less than two minutes remaining, but couldn't get any closer.

“I thought we fought our hearts out, and we played hard until the end,” Menominee coach Sam Larson said. “Probably a little bit too much size and physicality at different parts of the game, and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight. We picked a poor time to have an off night, especially from the free throw line.”

Menominee (23-4), in search of its first Finals championship since 1967 in Class B, will graduate five senior starters who helped resurrect the program from a point where the varsity went 4-17 just three years ago.

“What these guys have done has changed the program,” Larson said. “They have made basketball relevant again, and you couldn’t get these seniors out of the gym. They love basketball, they love each other and they would do anything for this program.”

Seniors Brady Schultz and Aidan Bellisle led Menominee with 19 and 14 points, respectively.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s Tyler DeGroote (24) and his teammates celebrate at the final buzzer of their Division 3 championship win Saturday. (Middle) Shane Rykse (10) cuts between a pair of Menominee defenders. (Below) Schoolcraft’s Ty Rykse (33) gets up court as Menominee’s Brady Schultz (24) follows. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.)