Preview: Rematches Bring Ultimate Opportunity This Time

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 11, 2021

Saturday’s MHSAA Boys Lacrosse Finals will feature a pair of rematches from this regular season – with the teams looking to avenge also seeking their first championships.

In Division 1, Hartland takes on Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice after losing to the Warriors 17-8 earlier this spring. In Division 2, Ada Forest Hills Eastern will attempt to avenge a 7-6 overtime loss to East Grand Rapids.

Below is a glance at all four teams playing at Howell’s Parker Middle School. Statistics are through Regional Finals unless noted. The Division 1 Final is set for 2 p.m., with Division 2 following at 5. Tickets cost $9.40 and are good for both games, and may be purchased online only at GoFan.

Both games will be broadcast and available with subscription from, with free audio broadcasts on the MHSAA Network.

Division 1

Record/rank: 17-2, No. 1
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Ajay Chawla, eighth season (124-22)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2005-17, 2019.
Best wins: 9-1 over No. 5 Lake Orion in Semifinal, 17-8 over No. 2 Hartland, 8-1 over No. 6 Detroit Catholic Central, 11-5 and 16-4 over Division 2 No. 5 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 10-6 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 13-8 over Division 2 No. 3 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Connor Borkowicz, jr. M (29 goals, 10 assists); Luke Dudley, sr. A (41 goals, 10 assists); Paulie Fortino, jr. M (21 goals, 9 assists); Christian McNulty, soph. A (37 goals, 7 assists).
Outlook: The Warriors have won all but one Division 1 championship in MHSAA history and are undefeated once again against in-state competition – their lone losses are to Cleveland St. Ignatius and Columbus Upper Arlington from Ohio, and those defeats came by only a combined six goals. No in-state opponent has scored more than eight goals against Rice, which is giving up just 4.2 goals per game overall. Sophomore Joe Schlackman is another key offensive catalyst coming off the bench with 25 goals and six assists this spring. Total, 12 players have scored at least 10 goals.

Record/rank: 22-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West & overall
Coach: Nick Levanti, first season (22-1) 
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 18-7 over No. 6 Detroit Catholic Central in Semifinal, 19-5 over No. 7 Saline in Regional Final, 14-10 (Regional Semifinal) and 16-10 over No. 3 Brighton, 14-9 over Division 2 No. 2 East Grand Rapids, 16-9 over Division 2 No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 18-9 over Division 2 No. 3 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Bo Lockwood, jr. A (94 goals, 136 assists); Charlie Anderson, sr. A (63 goals, 20 assists); Noah Luck, sr. A (96 goals, 33 assists); Ryan Krause, jr. M (33 goals, 17 assists). (Stats through Semifinal.)
Outlook: Hartland is making its first championship game appearance, and its only defeat this season was April 10 to Brother Rice 18-7. Lockwood made the all-state first team as a freshman in 2019, and his goal and points totals this season rank among the highest in MHSAA history. Freshman mid Drew Lockwood (32 goals, 17 assists) and sophomore mid Joey Mattord (28/18) also are significant offensive contributors. The team has two more returning all-staters from 2019: Senior midfielder Brandon Plemmons made the first team and has 10 goals and three assists this spring but played in only three games. Senior goalie Bryce Avenall earned an honorable mention two years ago and has split time in net, with sophomore Evan Phillips leading the goalie group in saves and ground balls.

Division 2

Record/rank: 15-5, No. 4
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1
Coach: Zach Gusell, second season (31-12)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2019.
Best wins: 11-9 over No. 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central in Semifinal, 18-5 over No. 5 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Regional Final, 14-6 over Division 1 No. 4 Rockford, 20-2 over Division 1 No. 10 Traverse City Central.
Players to watch: John Morgan, sr. A (49 goals, 19 assists); Sam Bowen, sr. A (54 goals, 39 assists); Ethan Johns, sr. M (42 goals, 17 assists); Kevin Sprague, sr. M (49 goals, 24 assists).
Outlook: Things have fallen into place nicely for Forest Hills Eastern as it is riding an eight-game winning streak and avenged an early 17-6 loss to Forest Hills Central to return to the championship game. Although the players to watch above are all offensive standouts, the defense includes returning all-state seniors Nate Sypien and Ethan Coleman. The Hawks are giving up only five goals per game during the postseason. Coleman made the all-state first team as a sophomore in 2019, while Morgan, Johns and Sypien made the second team. Nick Mesler had added 29 goals and nine assists coming into this week; he, Sprague and Johns are all expected to provide a boost off the bench this weekend.  

Record/rank: 19-2, No. 2
League finish: Second in O-K Tier 1
Coach: Adam Brant, first season (4-0)
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2007-09, 2017-18; runner-up 2005-06, 2011 and 2016.
Best wins: 9-8 (OT) over No. 3 Detroit Country Day in Semifinal, 15-7 over No. 9 Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Regional Semifinal, 6-3 over No. 5 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 7-6 (OT) over No. 4 Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 8-5 over No. 6 Okemos, 14-7 over No. 7 Caledonia, 11-3 over Division 1 No. 4 Rockford, 17-1 over Division 1 No. 10 Traverse City Central, 7-6 (OT) over Division 1 No. 6 Detroit Catholic Central, 9-8 over Division 1 No. 3 Brighton.
Players to watch: Sam Tholl, jr. A (37 goals, 25 assists); Ted Campbell, sr. A (56 goals, 11 assists); Drew Zykowski, soph. A (40 goals, 43 assists); Jack Higgins, soph. M (41 goals, 16 assists).
Outlook: East Grand Rapids played all but two of the top 10 in Division 2 MPR heading into the postseason, and its only losses were to top-ranked Forest Hills Central (in overtime by a goal) and Division 1 finalist Hartland. Brant has coached in the program since 2011 and on varsity since 2016 before taking over as interim head coach during this season. Sophomore mid Kase VanderMolen had added 24 goals and eight assists off the bench heading into this week, and junior goalie Adam Hall was giving up only 4.1 goals per game with five shutouts.

PHOTO: Forest Hills Eastern’s Nate Sypien moves the ball ahead during the 2019 Division 2 Final; he’s among returning standouts hoping to lead his team to its first championship this weekend.

Representative Council Approves Limited Regional Seeding in Girls Lacrosse at Fall Meeting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 9, 2022

The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.

Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.

The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.

The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.

Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.

Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.

The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.

The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.

The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.