Southfield Christian Follows New Leaders

March 14, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – It’s a new Finals, with another trip for Southfield Christian, and Jon Sanders and Da’Jion Humphrey’s turns to take on the spotlight.

The Eagles – last season’s Class D champions – will play for a second straight title Saturday morning after defeating Dollar Bay 55-28 in Thursday’s first Division 4 Semifinal.

Sanders and Humphrey started on last season’s team but played supporting roles. Now they’re the leaders, and have led the way this week. Sanders, a senior, scored 23 points in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal win over Burton Genesee Christian. Humphrey, a junior, had a game-high 16 and nine rebounds in the Semifinal.

“It’s a blessing to be able to step into a big role I wasn’t in last year,” Sanders said. “You always find a role and fit it and do the best you can. This year I’ve been doing the best of my ability with a couple guys we lost (after last season), and my teammates just helping me do it.”

Southfield Christian (20-6) will take on Frankfort in Saturday’s first Final at 10 a.m.

Humphrey opened the scoring Thursday with a 3-pointer just 27 seconds into the game. He had another later in the first quarter to give Southfield Christian a 16-10 lead, and went on a personal 8-0 run over 45 seconds at the end of the second quarter while the Eagles extended their lead to 18 heading into the break.

“We always stress to play hard and play smart and let the game come to you, and I thank my teammates – they found me when I was open,” Humphrey said. “I was just trying to do anything to win and get to the next game. That’s what we always preach – try to get to 1-0. We were just trying to get to 1-0 today.”

Humphrey was averaging 16.4 points per game entering this week, and Sanders was averaging 16.5. Sanders finished this game with 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.

“(Da’Jion) plays really hard. He’s kinda like our Draymond Green, how he rebounds and passes. He can really get it going,” Southfield Christian coach Josh Baker said. “Jon did last game, and Noah (Rheker) went on a huge run the game before. Each of them can bring a spark, and they’ve been doing it all year for us.”

Dollar Bay, making its second straight Semifinals appearance after also falling to Southfield Christian in this round a year ago, brought back only one starter from that team. The Blue Bolts stayed close through most of the first two quarters this time, but struggled mightily shooting the ball making only 22 percent of their attempts from the floor.

They entered this week connecting on 32 percent of their 3-point attempts, and found only 19 percent success from beyond the arc.

“They make you do things you’re uncomfortable doing – they made us play fast, they sped us up, and it’s hard to run any kind of sets, hard to run action,” Dollar Bay coach Jesse Kentala said. “It’s just defensively, they’re relentless. We knew that, and it wasn’t a surprise. But it came down to execution, and we kinda picked the worst time of the season to have a poor shooting night.”

Junior Ashton Janke had nine points, seven rebounds and three assists for Dollar Bay.

The Blue Bolts (21-5) ended this season with 14 wins over their final 16 games.

“Of course they’re a great program. They’re always good, and you know that,” said Dollar Bay senior Brendan LeClaire, that lone returning starter from last season, of Southfield Christian. “Every time we come here, the two times I’ve been here, you always think you have a chance. You always have to think you have a chance. We knew they have great players, but you try to find their weaknesses and try to exploit that.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Southfield Christian’s Jon Sanders hits the floor trying to gather a loose ball as Dollar Bay’s Ashton Janke goes for the same. (Middle) Noah Rheker hoists a 3-pointer – he made two of three attempts from beyond the arc.

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.)