By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING – The generations of Flint Beecher basketball rolled over again Saturday at the Breslin Center.
From the stands, stars of recent championships Monte Morris and Aquavius Burks cheered on the current Bucs, whose seniors were finishing the most impressive run in the program’s storied history – and preparing the next group to continue the tradition for years to come.
Four senior starters – Malik Ellison, Jordan Roland, Levane Blake and Edrice Hardnett – helped Beecher put the finishing touch on its third straight Class C championship and fifth in six seasons with a 73-58 win over Grand Rapids Covenant Christian.
Ellison, Roland and Blake all were four-year varsity players for the Bucs, joining the team after Morris led Beecher to the 2012 and 2013 Class C titles. Hardnett saw the floor briefly in the 2015 Final and joined the starting lineup this winter. Filling out Saturday’s first five was freshman guard Jalen Terry, the presumed next star in a growing list.
“When I was in the eighth grade, Monte took me under his wing, and he was showing me all the rights and wrongs to get to the championship,” Ellison said. “Basically, that’s what I was trying to do with Little E (Earnest Sanders) and Little Jalen. So when the new set of guys come in, they can sprinkle a little joy and education to them.
“Basically, it’s just a slippery slope. Just tell somebody else, and everybody else is going to adapt to it.”
Beecher finished this season 23-5, and coach Mike Williams said he believes Roland, Blake and Ellison finished with 109 varsity games, which would tie at least Powers North Central’s Jason Whitens, and possibly Morris for the most in MHSAA history.
Morris, who just finished a fantastic career at Iowa State, had FaceTimed Ellison earlier Saturday, nothing new in a relationship that has continued since the mentor left for the next level.
Ellison talked after the win about comparing his life to a book, and his “big brother” Morris certainly played a big part in writing this chapter. Ellison finished it by scoring 32 points as the Bucs held off a spirited push by Covenant Christian, which was playing in its first MHSAA championship game since 1994.
Unranked entering the postseason – while Beecher was tied for the No. 4 slot – the Chargers (21-6) played the Bucs to a tie in the first quarter and trailed by only three points heading into the fourth.
“I’m really proud of our guys. We had to believe to start the game we could win it, and I thought they showed that,” Covenant Christian coach Tyler Schimmel said. “I thought we got over the biggest challenge right as we left the hotel, and stepped off the bus. We knew a lot of people (in the media) and the arena didn’t think we had a chance, but we knew we did.”
Beecher’s seniors stepped in once more to close the door. After Terry opened the quarter with the Bucs’ first three points, the seniors scored the next 18 as their team pulled away.
Covenant Christian, meanwhile, made only 4 of 13 shots during the fourth quarter and tallied 10 of their 19 turnovers over those final eight minutes. Blake had nine points, but also 12 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots while providing the most sizable obstacle to the Chargers’ comeback attempt.
“We talked about in the huddle, we have eight minutes left in your playing life, and what are you going to do about it?” Williams said. “And the whole thing is our identity is our defense. When the kids sit down, start applying the pressure, I think it really got to them.
“(Blake’s) been doing that for us for four years. He anchors our defense. He talks to everybody, and he’s one of the best defenders in the state. We wouldn’t be in the position that we’re in, winning our third state title, without this kid anchoring the defense, cleaning the glass. A lot of things that he does do not show up on the stat sheet.”
Roland added 15 points in his final game, and Terry had nine and six rebounds.
Junior forward Carson Meulenberg led Covenant Christian with 20 points and eight rebounds, while junior guard Tyler Cammenga had 13 points and junior forward Trenton Koole added 11 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
They’ll lead a lineup that should challenge again next season and won’t surprise anyone – including Beecher, if their paths should cross.
“There were a couple of times this season where probably people wrote us off, … but these guys have a ton of fight,” Schimmel said. “I think our fans and community have a lot to be proud of.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Flint Beecher’s Levane Blake (22) dunks during Saturday’s Class C Final as Carson Meulenberg tries to obstruct his path. (Middle) The Bucs’ Malik Ellison goes hard to the basket, but Covenant Christian’s Trenton Koole (20) gets in the way.
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.