Senior-Loaded Hamilton Makes Memorable Most of Historic Opportunities

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 17, 2023

HAMILTON – The senior year for a high school athlete is the last opportunity to make a mark on a program.

West MichiganFor the eight seniors on the Hamilton boys basketball team, an indelible impression was made. 

The Hawkeyes’ season ended Wednesday night in a Division 2 Regional Final against a talented Grand Rapids South Christian squad.

However, their remarkable regular season, and subsequent postseason run, will be fondly remembered by the people in this small West Michigan community for years to come.

“Our goal going tonto the season was to win a District and to have a good season, but more importantly to prove to the Hamilton community and to prove to people that followed us and ourselves that anything can be done when you put your mind to it,” Hamilton boys basketball coach Nick Kronemeyer said. “Anybody can be beat, and you can accomplish anything if you do it the right way and do it together. We wanted to inspire 6,500 people in Hamilton with that message.”

Hamilton produced a storybook season and compiled a pair of accomplishments that hadn’t been achieved in more than three decades.

The Hawkeyes won a conference championship for the first time since 1988 and then proceeded to capture the program’s first District crown since 1987.

They finished 22-5 overall after struggling to a 7-15 record a year ago. 

“We knew this group coming up was a talented group and loved the game of basketball,” Kronemeyer said. “We thought we were going to be pretty good last year with this group, and we kind of underachieved a little bit. Coming into this year, we believed wholeheartedly that we could have a special season if we did it the right way and learned from some of the things we went through last year.”

Lessons were learned and success was gained as the Hawkeyes recorded the second-most wins in school history and provided several thrilling moments for their spirited fanbase.

The Hawkeyes continue the celebration on their home court. “After I played my last football game, I knew the last basketball season was going to be really hard and you just have to give it your all because you only get so many games and then you're done,” Hamilton four-year player Brandt Goodpaster said. “So to have that much success and have as many extra games as we did was a blessing as a senior.”

Hamilton’s main objective for the season was a long-awaited District title, but as the final two weeks of the regular season approached, the team realized it was still in the hunt for an Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue title.

“We were just trying to get better, trying to play our best at the end of the year,” Kronemeyer said. “The conference title didn’t get talked about, but when we got to the last couple weeks we realized we had a chance and started to go after those games.”

Hamilton played Coopersville in the final conference game and came away with its biggest road win in many years.

“It was for all the marbles, it was for the outright conference championship and it was a game that you dream about growing up and why you put the work in,” Kronemeyer said. “That meant a lot to our community, and the way it happened at the end, it was just a pretty special night.”

The Hawkeyes erased years of futility in the conference when Goodpaster made the game-winning shot during the waning seconds.

A fitting conclusion for a stunning turnaround. 

“It was a huge team effort, and it just ended up in my hands for the last shot,” Goodpaster said. “My shot didn't win the game though, all the possessions and defense before that and all those things leading up to it won the game for us.”

The next stop was Districts, and the Hawkeyes were still riding the emotional wave from the conference title.

A win over Holland Christian – which had knocked Hamilton out of the postseason the past two years – followed by victories over South Haven and Allegan earned the Hawkeyes a coveted District championship.

“It was an accumulation of everything that has gone into it over the past couple years, and we played really well that night and got the job done,” Kronemeyer said. “We had talked about what it would be like for the first team that does it, and we knew it was going to be a special experience.  

“The kids signed shoes, napkins and T-shirts for an hour after the game. That was a pretty special experience for the community and the program. It was just a great night.”

And the District title occurred on their home court.

“The message from Coach from the very start was we are going to cut the net and we are going to win a District,” Goodpaster said. “We'll be the first team to do it and reset the standard.

“When I found out we were hosting Districts, we thought that this is the way we have to go out. Senior year, on our home court, no other option than to win and be District champs.”

Hamilton didn’t stop there and added another memorable moment in the Regional Semifinal against Marshall. The Hawkeyes trailed by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but rallied and won on a tip-in at the buzzer by senior Austin Osborne, another four-year varsity performer.

“That was a dogfight, and we just made plays at the end,” Kronemeyer said.

Other contributors for Hamilton included leading scorer Justin McIllwain, a junior, and seniors JD DeGroot and Brady Tebo. 

“I’m proud of our seniors and that group,” Kronemeyer said. “They came to play every game, and all the credit goes to our guys. They were great to be around and did it the right way.”

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Hamilton raises its first boys basketball District championship trophy since 1987 on March 10. (Middle) The Hawkeyes continue the celebration on their home court. (Photos courtesy of the Hamilton school district.)

Clarkston's Loyer Leaves All-Time Legacy with 25 Record Book Listings

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 22, 2023

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.

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.