Southfield Christian Nets 3rd Title Try

March 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Lindsay Hunter IV sank his first shot 43 seconds into Thursday’s first Class D Semifinal at the Breslin Center.

And he didn’t stop until top-ranked Southfield Christian had cemented itself in a third straight championship game.

Hunter made 7 of his first 10 shots, missing just one more at the start of the third quarter before leaving the game with 21 points in 14 minutes as his team cruised to a 97-68 victory over Frankfort.

The two-time defending champion Eagles will face Adrian Lenawee Christian in Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship game.

“I just wanted to come out and get a win. I did everything (possible),” Hunter IV said. “It’s been like that all playoffs. I don’t know what’s going on. All of a sudden the swishes flew.”

And not just for Hunter. Southfield Christian (25-1) shot 50 percent from the floor including 41 percent from 3-point range. It took the lead for good 1:08 into the game and led by 14 by the end of the first quarter.

During the first half, when the Eagles' starters played most of the minutes, the team shot 60 percent from the floor and 75 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

Southfield Christian set a Class D Semifinal record for points, scoring two more than Detroit East Catholic did in its 95-65 win over Concord in 1986. Junior guard Bakari Evelyn added 17 points for the Eagles, making 7 of 8 shots from the floor including all three of his 3-point attempts.

Senior forward Damarco White added seven points, six rebounds and four blocked shots in only 12 minutes. He, Evelyn and Hunter also were main contributors in last season’s championship run, and Hunter and Evelyn played major roles in 2012 as well.

“Especially this year, it’s my last year and I’ve got to play as hard as I can every game because it could be my last,” White said. “I don’t want to let our team lose. Just like last year, I want to play for everybody in the locker room, everybody at my school, so I go out there and do the best I can.”

Frankfort seniors Connor Bradley and Brandon Schaub helped the Panthers to their first Semifinal since 1969, earning a legacy in their school's history. Total, they were part of three District and two Regional titles and “had as good a career as anybody in the history of Frankfort,” Panthers coach Reggie Manville said.

Junior center David Loney led Frankfort with 32 points and 13 rebounds. Schaub added 11 points and sophomore guard Kole Hollenbeck had five assists.

Frankfort finished 20-7 after entering the postseason as an honorable mention in the final Associated Press poll.

“Each year we’ve taken a step forward, from the District to the Regional to the final four, and we still have 10 guys coming back,” Manville added. “We want to take the next step, and yet we realize the next step is a big step. But at the same time, I’ve got confidence in my program that we’ll be there next year.”

Click for a full box score and video from the press conference.

PHOTO: (Top) Southfield Christian's Jalen Bouldes drives to the hoop as Frankfort's Ryan Plumstead defends. (Middle) Frankfort's Kole Hollenbeck works to get past Southfield Christian's Kameron Garner.

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) David Loney got Frankfort out to a 5-1 lead in the Class D Semifinal, hitting this 3-pointer for the first points of the game. He finished with a game-high 32. (2) Lindsay Hunter IV takes a long pass on a fast break and scores as part of an 11-point run for Southfield Christian in the first quarter. Hunter led his team with 21 points.

Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers

By Tom Kendra
Special for

June 7, 2023

Walter “Stretch” Hansen and Harold Tate were good friends and high school basketball and baseball teammates at Hart High School, graduating in 1943.

West MichiganNo one could have guessed that less than two months after graduation (on July 2, 1943), the two friends would head to Fort Custer in Battle Creek, the first stop on their way overseas to fight for their country in World War II.

No one could have imagined how many twists and turns their lives would take over the next 80 years – from the battlefields in the South Pacific, then back to West Michigan where they both were married with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now Harold even has a great-great-grandchild.

And, certainly, no one would have believed that the two young boys from Hart – who forged a friendship through high school sports long before the days of computers, microwave ovens and cell phones – would still be alive at the age of 98 for an emotional reunion last month, on May 22, seeing each other for the first time in 80 years and, to cap it off, the reunion took place in their hometown of Hart.

“It was such a great day,” Hansen said about the meeting, which was set up by Muskegon-area World War II historian Richard Mullally.

“We picked right up, talking about sports and the service and everything else.”

The conversation came easy for the two old friends, who played for Hart during a “golden era” at the school – particularly in basketball, as the Pirates won 11 West Michigan Conference basketball titles between 1940 and 1954.

Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. Perhaps the best team during that time period was Hansen and Tate’s as seniors in 1943. That team lost only once, to rival Scottville (31-25), but more than made up for it with an 80-10 trouncing of the Spartans in the final regular-season game.

Hart then crushed Scottville and Newaygo to win the District championship, only to have Michigan’s prep basketball season stopped abruptly at that point because of World War II.

That 1943 team featured four starters over 6-0, led by the duo of Hansen and Stan Kapulak (both 6-6), Joe Mack (6-2), Lyle Burmeister (6-1) and Stanley Riley (the lone starter under 6-foot at 5-11).

“The newspapers called us ‘The Hart Skyscrapers,’” said Hansen, who will be 99 on Nov. 6. “We were taller than most college teams at that time.”

Hansen and Tate’s friendship continued to blossom on the baseball field, only to have their lives turned upside down shortly after graduation 80 years ago, when all Hart senior boys who had been drafted headed to Battle Creek as a brief staging area on their way to the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.

Hansen served in the Army Specialized Training Program and was part of the 52nd Signal Battalion and the 4025th Signal Battalion in the Pacific Theater.

“I had an all-expense paid tour of the South Pacific,” Hansen said with a chuckle. “The Philippines, New Guinea, Okinawa, Hawaii, all over the place.”

Tate did his service in the 24th Infantry Division and the 19th Infantry Regiment, and was stationed in Japan.

During their visit last month, Harold showed off the Japanese Samurai sword and Arisaka rifle which he had sent back from Japan to Hart. The week after their visit, both took part in Memorial Day parades – Hansen in the Lakeside parade in Muskegon and Tate in his 77th Memorial Day service in Hart.

Hansen, who still has a home on a small lake in Holton and lives at a senior care facility in Muskegon, played many years of semi-pro basketball and did some coaching. He worked at GTE and has five children and 10 grandchildren.

Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II.“I have been so blessed,” Hansen said, sorting through one of his many scrapbooks. “All five of my kids are great and I have grandkids that are just amazing, everything they are doing. I don’t even know all of their names, but it’s sure been fun watching them.”

Tate returned to Hart after his military service and has been there ever since, at first working as a carpenter with his father and then becoming a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring 26 years ago at the age of 72. He has lived in the same home for 75 years and has three children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandkids and now one great-great-grandchild.

Tate laments the demise of his beloved American Legion post in Hart, a town with just over 2,000 residents, as the number of members has steadily declined.

One topic that brings a smile to both of their faces is the recent resurgence of the Hart High School athletic program, which drew media attention not too many years ago for all the wrong reasons – notably a football program which went 24 years without a winning record.

That string was snapped with a 6-3 mark and the school’s first earned playoff appearance last fall.

But that was just the start.

This winter, Hart’s boys basketball team finished the regular season 22-0, the girls basketball team made it to the Division 3 Semifinals at the Breslin Center, wrestling qualified for the Team Finals for the fourth-straight year and competitive cheer placed fourth in Division 4. This spring, the Hart girls track & field team won its second-straight Division 3 Finals team title, and the boys placed fourth.

“It’s a great place to call home, a great place to live, always has been,” said Hansen of his hometown, which got its name from its central position in the “heart” of Oceana County.

And who would have imagined that these two high school teammates could still come home again for a reunion at the age of 98?

Tom KendraTom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Members of the 1943 Hart High School varsity baseball team gather together, preparing for a team photo. Among those are Harold Gayle Tate (far left) and Walter "Stretch" Hansen, at 6-6 the tallest player in the back row. (Middle) Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. (Below) Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. (Top photo courtesy of Stretch Hansen. Middle and below photos courtesy of Richard Mullally.)