Cranes Take Back Top Spot from D3 Rival

October 17, 2015

By Greg Buckner
Special for Second Half

HOLLAND — For the last four years, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood had to watch Detroit Country Day hoist the Division 3 Lower Peninsula boys tennis championship trophy.

On Saturday, the Cranes turned the tables, winning the MHSAA Final with 38 points to leave the Yellowjackets settling for second with 30 at Hope College. 

“I think for our seniors, it’s fantastic,” Cranbrook Kingswood coach Jeff Etterbeek said. “These guys have watched that trophy presentation for four years now, and for them to have this day was really exciting. Country Day obviously has a great program — they’re one of the top five programs in the state in all divisions.

“We had to beat them three times (this season) and we did. I’m really proud of this team, especially the leadership that our seniors came out with today.” 

The win was especially sweet after Country Day beat Cranbrook Kingswood by seven points for the LP Division 3 championship last year — and the Cranes did it in dominating fashion Saturday by winning all but two flight finals on the day.

“It’s so surreal watching Country Day come away with the title the last four years and being able to take it away for my senior year; it’s an unbelievable feeling,” Cranbrook Kingswood senior Marc Sable said. “Just this group of guys — they’re my best friends. Just the depth with our team and (Country Day) is crazy. 

“When you have a team like us where from No. 1 singles to No. 4 doubles that has some great team chemistry, that lets us have such great results and we were able to come away with the title.”

Cranbrook Kingswood held on to its two-point first-day lead on the Yellowjackets thanks to a clean sweep of all four doubles flights. 

Nolan Trepeck and Matthew Gerard started it off with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Country Day’s Damian Runkle and Adam Junn at the first flight. Chase Ghesquiere and Steven Meng beat Country Day’s Ryan Murakawa and Ricky Wamicke 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2; Brandon Kerr and Colin Petzold topped Country Day’s Kavon Rahmani and Joe Zhang 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3; and Andrew Du and Jacob Yellen claimed a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Holland Christian’s Brady Brower and Ethan Mouw in the No. 4 flight final.

“I think over the year, our doubles teams have all been very strong,” Etterbeek said. “I felt coming in here that was where we had to win this. Country Day has great singles, Holland Christian has great singles and we have great singles. 

“But I thought the edge would be in the doubles for us, and that certainly proved to be true.”

The Cranes also won the No. 2 and No. 4 singles flight titles. Benji Jacobson topped Country Day’s Jakob Gahn 6-1, 6-0 at the second flight final and Justin Luo edged Country Day’s Alex Mettler 6-1, 6-0 for the fourth flight title. 

The hometown Maroons placed fourth with 17 points, trailing third-place East Grand Rapids by three, but JP Avila won the No. 1 singles title with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Sable for the first MHSAA title at the top singles flight in program history.

“It’s pretty crazy to think that it’s my first year playing here at Holland Christian and being able to do this is not only cool for myself, but for the school and the team as well,” said Avila, who was born in Holland but lived in China and Mexico before returning. “It’s an honor to be able to do it and play for Holland Christian. … I think it will be a couple days until I realize what I’ve done.” 

The Yellowjackets’ Michael Khaghany beat Cranbrook Kingswood’s Michael Bian 6-1, 6-3 for the No. 3 singles flight title — and it was only fitting that the two state powers that have combined to win the last seven Division 3 titles would square off in six of the flight championships Saturday.

“Cranbrook was better and we gave effort. We played better today, but they played better than we did,” Country Day coach Tom Ellis said. “You’re probably looking at the two best teams in the state. We’ve played the Novis, the Cranbrooks and played Division 1 teams. You’re looking at Cranbrook as the best team in the state — and we’re not far behind.” 

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PHOTOS: (Top) Cranbrook Kingswood tennis players pose with their MHSAA championship trophy. (Middle) Holland Christian's JP Avila returns a shot during his run to the No. 1 singles title. (Below) Country Day's Adam Junn returns a shot during his No. 1 doubles final. (Click for more from

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1