By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
"Jordan shoots. He scores."
This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most incredible feats in MHSAA basketball history. On March 11, 1965, Fennville's Richie Jordan scored 60 points in a Class C Regional Final against Bridgman, a point total that remains an MHSAA Tournament record.
The 5-foot-7 "Fennville Flash" became Michigan's first inductee into the National Federation of State High School Association's Hall of Fame in 2001. Below is a video compilation or Jordan clips, with audio from that Regional Final, followed by a report from MHSAA historian Ron Pesch written in 2001.
By Ron Pesch
Not long ago, I came across an article written by Hal Schram, the legendary prep journalist for the Detroit Free Press. It was penned during the winter of 1977, and Schram had decided to look back at the history of Michigan high school basketball and pick his top 20 high school players from the past quarter century.
“The Swami” had followed the high school circuit since the 1940s. Schram began with a larger list, paring the roster from 44 to 20. The sportswriter went one step further and decided to single out one member of the squad for the ultimate honor – “the greatest of them all.”
As one would expect, final selections included many of the state's most memorable names: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Dave DeBusschere, Chet Walker, Spencer Haywood, Ralph Simpson, Rudy Tomjanovich, Campy Russell. Their exploits are legendary, and even the most casual fan of basketball could agree they belong on the list.
However, looking back from the millennium, Schram's choice for state's greatest player is stunning.
“The Swami” himself admitted at the time that his No. 1 pick would surprise many. Hal's top pick never played professionally in either the NBA or ABA. That can be overlooked, as the criteria was simple – the state's greatest prep player. But when I state that Schram's selection played ball at a Class C school, that his teams never advanced to the final rounds of the tournament, and that he stood a mere 5-7½ and weighed only 160 pounds in his prime, most basketball fans shake their heads in disbelief.
But those are only physical attributes. Ask Richie Jordan himself.
Schram's pick as the state's greatest high school ballplayer, Jordan will tell you that it doesn't matter what race, religion or how tall you are. He'll state that anything is possible with imagination and hard work.
Many may dispute Swami's selection, but few will debate Jordan's talents as an all- around athlete. A four-sport star at Fennville High School, he earned 16 letters during his prep career. He is considered by many to be the finest student-athlete ever turned out by the state of Michigan.
The family lived in Bangor when Jordan started school. On the playground one day, Richie wandered over to a high jump pit, where the older kids were practicing their leaps during recess. Much to his delight, he was offered the chance to jump by one of the older kids. The bar was lowered, and Jordan took his shot.
“I easily jumped over the bar and the older kids made comments on how easy I jumped. They kept moving the bar up until it was as high as my head. A crowd started to gather and I cleared the bar. The older kids made me feel real special.”
Before he entered the third grade, the Jordan family moved to Fennville, a small town in west Michigan.
“Fennville was a wonderful place to grow up, and I have the best of memories,” recalled Jordan. “We had a group of kids who played together and loved each other from the 3rd grade on.”
Like so many kids, he imagined himself duplicating the feats of his idols. Many have similar dreams, but few worked as hard as Richie to achieve them.
By the time he reached high school, Jordan had evolved into a stellar all-around athlete. His drive to excel worked around the clock. Through the years he accumulated new sports heroes and studied their movements in his mind.
“I was at the 1962 finals game where (Saginaw High School's) Ernie Thompson scored 42 points against Benton Harbor. I went home and worked on my double clutch for days after that. I loved all those guys and respected their talent,” said Jordan, “but I wanted to be better than all of them.”
His hard work paid off with stellar athletic performances. An all-state halfback in football in his junior year, Jordan averaged a whopping 35.6 points in 16 basketball contests and was a unanimous first-team all-state selection at guard in the winter of 1963. In the spring he excelled on the baseball diamond and in track and field.
Jordan continued his rigid regime of weightlifting and working out. Word of his athletic exploits trickled out of Fennville.
In the fall of 1964 he rushed for 1,246 yards on 86 carries, and tallied 25 touchdowns, to cap an outstanding gridiron career. His total of 5,132 career rushing yards was tops in the state at that time, and the mark still ranks in the top 10.
Again, he reaped all-state accolades. But the basketball court was where the Jordan legend was defined.
His vertical jump was phenomenal, and he could dunk with both hands. Scouts reported that he was lightning fast and excellently coordinated. Early in 1965, the Kalamazoo Gazette sent a photographer to Fennville to snap photos of Jordan for a feature article on the Black Hawks' upcoming cage contest in Kalamazoo against Hackett High School. Fennville entered the game with a 3-1 mark, the only mar a 95-93 loss to Saugatuck in which Jordan scored 54 points.
The newspaper printed a shot of Richie dunking the basketball, and the image caught the imagination of many. An overflow crowd packed the 2,200-seat Irish Gymnasium to watch the matchup. Jordan and his teammates trounced the favored Irish 99-73, as Richie scorched the nets for 47 points. In April of his senior year he was named prep All-American by Coach & Athlete magazine, earning the distinction of “smallest” on the squad. “Weep not for him, however,” stated the article, announcing the honor, “as he can dunk the ball, and with his 44.4 season's scoring average, he has scholarship offers from 58 colleges and universities.”
Richie finished out his unbelievable prep career by batting .550 on the baseball field, and by leading his track team to a third-place finish at the state meet.
On May 20, 1965, the city of Fennville honored the prep hero and his teammates for their outstanding athletic careers and their contribution to the community. Jordan spent two years with the Michigan State basketball program, earning a letter in 1967, then walked away from basketball to concentrate on baseball with the Spartans. Following graduation, he landed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but a shoulder injury ended his pursuit of a major league career.
Today, the “Fennville Flash” is known as “Mr. Jordan” by his students at Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota, Fla. A strength and conditioning coach, daily he preaches the merits of weight training and the benefits of hard work to his students.
Married and the father of three, he has enjoyed coaching and watching his children participate and excel in athletics. He cherishes the memories of his youth and the friends he made along the way.
“All my teammates and I felt very special,” said Jordan, now 53, “but we also were very humbled by the admiration we were shown. We all felt an obligation to our community to conduct ourselves in a way that would reflect kindly on our small town.
I'm still very proud that we all understand that.”
I'm still very proud that we all understand that.”
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.