Stump, Senior-Led Lineup Have Grand Haven Dreaming Big Again

By Tom Kendra
Special for

February 9, 2022

Grand Haven senior forward Nic Stump was, well, stumped by the question.

“I know we play Rockford again coming up, but honestly, I don’t know exactly when it is – but I know it’s coming up soon,” said Stump, referring to Grand Haven’s highly-anticipated rematch with Rockford, which handed Haven its only loss of the season back on Jan. 18.

That answer was music to the ears of seventh-year Grand Haven coach Greg Immink, who knows his team still needs to get past Caledonia in order to make the Rockford rematch (which is Feb. 15 at Rockford, by the way) an opportunity to move to the top of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red standings.

Grand Haven, which improved to 13-1 overall and 8-1 in the conference with Tuesday’s 63-42 home win over Holland West Ottawa, has the town buzzing – and the student section and pep band are having a blast just like in the glory days of Buccaneers basketball.

Haven’s rematch with Rockford is just one of the upcoming games those rabid fans are excited about – along with a chance to repeat as a Division 1 District champ next month.

The Bucs are certainly an experienced team, with four senior starters, led by the 6-foot-5 Stump, who scored a game-high 24 points in Friday’s 59-46 win over Hudsonville.

“We have been playing together for so long, and we still don’t know who is going to be the leading scorer every game,” explained Stump, an honorable mention Associated Press all-state selection last winter. “We just try to keep moving the ball and if someone gets hot, we’ll find him and go to him.”

Stump was that man Friday, posting up and scoring down low, finishing up on the break and displaying a rapidly-improving, mid-range jump shot.

While Stump doesn’t lead the Bucs in any one stat, he entered this week ranked second in five of the six major statistical categories – scoring (13.0), rebounding (5.4), shooting percentage (48.8 percent), steals (1.3) and blocked shots (1.1).

“In the last three or four games, Nic has raised his game to a higher level,” said Immink, who is assisted by Ron Peters and Lance Johnson. “I’m excited about that because when he’s playing well, it opens everything up for the rest of the team.”

Bashir Neely, an athletic 6-2 senior, uses his speed to break down defenses and is the leading scorer at 16.5 points per game. He is joined in the backcourt by 6-5 junior Harrison Sorrelle, the only non-senior starter, who averages 11.1 points and 2.6 assists. Sorrelle, like Stump, was an honorable mention all-state choice last year as a sophomore.

Grand Haven basketballJoining Stump on the front line are 6-6 senior center Tucker Kooi, who averages 7.2 points and leads the team in rebounding (5.7) and blocked shots (1.7), and 6-4 senior forward Owen Worthington (7.3 points), who is an outstanding 3-point shooter and defender.

Stump said the fact that most of the team has been playing together since their elementary Bucs Youth Basketball days is a huge advantage – especially in close games. One player he has been playing with even longer than that is his younger brother Nate Stump, a 6-3 junior and one of the first players off the bench every game.

“I love having this chance to play with him,” said Nic Stump. “We are typical brothers and we fight and get on each other’s nerves and all of that, but it’s mostly just brotherly love. We help each other out all the time with shooting form and rebounding and things like that.”

Nate Stump averages 2.5 points in limited minutes but has given the team a huge boost with his rebounding, currently third on the team at 4.6 per game.

Grand Haven’s basketball tradition dates to the 1920s and legendary coach Gus Cohrs, who guided the Buccaneers to a staggering six MHSAA state championships over a nine-year period from 1927 to 1935.

That basketball passion was reignited by Al Schaffer, who guided Haven to 231 wins during his 18 years in the 1970s and 1980s. Craig Taylor then steered the Bucs to back-to-back Quarterfinal appearances in 1991 and 1992, but it would be another 18 years before they would make a run that deep again, in 2010 under Steve Hewitt.

Hewitt died tragically during the summer of 2014, and after Bob Eidson took the reins for one year, Immink has guided the Bucs the past seven.

For the first four years of Immink’s tenure, Haven’s postseasons ended at the hands of powerhouse Muskegon in the District Finals. In 2020, the two teams were again scheduled to play in a District Final, but the COVID pandemic wiped out the season the day before that game. Then last winter, Haven broke through and downed the Big Reds, 66-51, snapping Muskegon’s run of 16 straight District titles.

The two teams are on a collision course once again as Muskegon was undefeated before suffering its first loss Saturday against Ferndale.

Muskegon is known for its speed, athletic ability and lockdown defense, while Haven counters with its shooting, experience and length. Neely is the Bucs’ only starter under 6-4.

“Our guys believe in our system, and we’re excited for a lot of big games coming up,” said Immink. “The challenge for us is to play consistently at a high level and for them to go beyond what they think they can do.”

Tom 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) Grand Haven’t Nik Stump attempts a free throw during Tuesday’s win over Holland West Ottawa. (Middle) Stump and his teammates get a breather during a break in the 63-42 victory. (Photos by JWaltVisuals.)

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.)