Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 1

December 8, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Some of our favorite stories from the beginning of each season are told when a team, after just a week, has already equaled its success from the previous season.

A few of those are highlighted in this week’s Breslin Bound girls hoops report to kick off 2014-15.

Each week, we’ll look at four teams from each class that stuck out over the previous seven days or the season to that point as we point toward the start of the MHSAA District tournaments March 2.

For schedules of each day’s games statewide and results as we receive them, plus links to each team’s full schedule, results and league standings, click here – and please help us by filling in missing scores or emailing them to [email protected].

Class A

Farmington Hills Mercy (2-0) – The Marlins, Class A semifinalists last season, are proving again already they can win close with 55-52 and 49-46 wins over Waterford Mott and Salem, respectively, to open 2014-15.

Flushing (2-0) – The Tigers improved two wins last season to 13-9, with two losses to Flint Powers Catholic; they beat the Chargers 56-23 on Friday to kick off a perfect first week.

Howell (2-0) – The Highlanders were solid to start coming off a 15-7 finish last season, but with an impressive performance to further generate excitement for the weeks to come; 6-foot-1 junior Erin Honkala had 19 points, 28 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Friday’s 47-30 win over Ann Arbor Skyline. The rebounds tied for 13th most for one game in MHSAA history.

Lapeer (2-1) – The former Lapeer East and West last season finished with a combined record of 13-29; the new schools created from a merger of the old kicked off last week with two wins before falling only 57-47 to always-strong Goodrich.

Class B

Adrian (2-1) – The Maples already have equaled their win total from last season’s 2-19 finish, with a 47-35 overtime victory over Monroe Jefferson among highlights.

Berrien Springs (2-0) – The Shamrocks didn’t win last season until February, but equaled last season’s win total with two victories to start including a 50-48 nail-biter over Cassopolis.

Grosse Ile (2-0) – The Red Devils are looking to build on last season’s 18-4 finish and kicked off this winter with a pair of wins over Detroit Catholic League teams including 42-41 over Livonia Ladywood on Friday.

Haslett (2-0) – The Vikings made the Class A Regional Finals last season finishing 23-2, but are back in Class B and opened with a 63-21 win over reigning Finals champion Eaton Rapids – one of two teams to beat Haslett in 2013-14.

Class C

Grass Lake (2-0) – Last season’s 9-12 finish included a 2-7 skid at the end; the Warriors ended it with a 61-52 win over Concord on opening night and then a 62-36 victory over Cascade Conference foe Hanover-Horton.

Hesperia (2-0) – One week in and Hesperia has guaranteed a better finish than last winter’s 1-18; the Panthers equaled it with a 34-28 win over Mason County Eastern in the opener and surpassed with a 42-30 victory over Kent City Algoma Christian on Thursday.

Lake City (2-0) – The Trojans also started strongly last winter with five straight victories before struggling down the stretch, but looked pretty tough beating Harrison by 15 and Mancelona by 36 last week.

Niles Brandywine (2-0) – The Bobcats have a streak worth statewide attention; they haven’t lost a regular-season game since Jan. 30, 2012, and opened this winter by beating Class A Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 53-46.

Class D

Baraga (2-0) – The Vikings won six games last season, with a 52-point loss to Houghton on opening night; they beat Houghton 33-24 to start this season and are on pace to equal last year’s win total by January.

Bark River-Harris (2-0) – Two of last season’s five losses (to go with 18 wins) were to Crystal Falls Forest Park, but Trojans’ star Lexi Gussert is at Michigan State University now and the Broncos got a hard-fought 36-34 win over Forest Park in their first Skyline Central Conference game.

Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (2-0) – The Irish weren't considered a favorite before winning last season's Class D title; Sacred Heart won't sneak up on anyone this time and opened with their 14th and 15th-straight wins dating to last January. 

Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) – The Cardinals have been on a nice run since the middle of last season; after opening 2013-14 at 2-7, they finished 8-4 and added another pair of wins to open last week.

PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart’s Averi Gamble prepares to shoot in the reigning Class D champion’s 43-35 win over Shepherd on opening night. (Click to see more from

Howardsville Christian Striving to Transfer Fall Successes to Basketball Court

By Scott Hassinger
Special for

November 28, 2023

HOWARDSVILLE - There is a sign that hangs inside Howardsville Christian School's tiny gymnasium that accurately depicts the mission for the Eagles during the 2023-24 boys basketball season.

Southwest CorridorIt reads "In Jesus' name we play."

Ken Sparks and the eight players on his varsity basketball roster have challenged themselves to help one another understand what it means to give their season to  God.

"My goal is to help these boys find gratitude in playing for a greater power than themselves," said Sparks, a varsity standout himself at Howardsville from 1996-2000, member of the 1,000-point club and an honorable mention all-stater his senior year.

Nestled on the border between St. Joseph and Cass counties along Bent Road, Howardsville Christian, a Division 4 school for its sports with fewer than 80 students, has enjoyed a rich tradition of spiritual learning both in the classroom and on the court and playing fields.

The contribution of many talented athletes from several families has been instrumental in Howardsville's athletic success for years, especially this school year.

Howardsville won District titles this fall in boys soccer and girls volleyball. Now the Eagles hope to carry that momentum over to the basketball court.

With four starters returning, Sparks is looking for Howardsville’s boys team to battle for supremacy in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph League and improve on a 13-10 record from last season. The Eagles finished 7-7 in the league last winter and endured a disappointing District Semifinal loss to Marcellus. Howardsville Christian had won its District the season in 2021.

"We competed well with all the teams on our schedule and lost to some teams we shouldn't have," Sparks said. "There are eight teams in our conference, and this season we need to beat Benton Harbor Countryside to be the top team. It's been a good league for us."

Senior twin brothers Colin and Dylan Muldoon return for Howardsville, along with junior cousin Kaden Sparks, son of the head coach, and junior John Paul Rose.

The Muldoon brothers both are beginning their third year as varsity starters.

"Working together as a team is something we really want to do well. A lot of teams set a goal of winning Districts. The last two years we've fallen short of that goal. It's definitely something we want to achieve this year," Colin Muldoon said.

Dylan Muldoon echoed that sentiment.

"Our success in soccer makes us want to attain the same goals in basketball. We know we are capable of reaching those, so I think it makes us want to pull things together," Dylan Muldoon said. "There's a lot of long-distance running in soccer, but there's also a lot of quickness and turning in basketball, especially when you're guarding or driving around someone. You just have to be quick."

Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. Kaden Sparks, another three-year starter, will be Howardsville's best shooting guard.

"Winning Districts is achievable. We have to learn to work together. I played summer ball, and the biggest takeaway is that it taught me that I have to always give 100-percent effort out there. We had a great soccer season, and It’s taught us a lot about accountability," Kaden Sparks said.

Rose will be Howardsville Christian's starting point guard. He has been a starter since his freshman year, along with Kaden Sparks.

"The team chemistry and communication we had in soccer easily transfers over to basketball. As our point guard, it's important for me to try to get the ball to other guys who have open looks," Rose said. "I want to be more aggressive defensively, push the ball up the floor more and increase my scoring."

In addition, Ken Sparks believes the physicality a majority of his team learned from soccer will be a big benefit on the basketball floor.

"You build up your physicality from playing soccer with having to always body up. Watching them play sometimes hurts me, but that's what I want them to do in basketball. It helps them to want to draw contact and be physical on the floor," Ken Sparks said.

The lack of upperclassmen on Howardsville's varsity the last couple of years gave Rose and Kaden Sparks an immediate opportunity to play as freshmen.

"The fact John Paul and Kaden had that early chance at the varsity level is really paying off now,” Ken Sparks added. “Kaden is an excellent shooter. I want him to get the confidence that I had when I was in high school. He tends to be a little more passive on the floor than I like, but he's finally getting that aggressive nature that you need offensively.”

Kaden, Colin Muldoon and Rose all averaged double-digit scoring last season, while Dylan Muldoon is the Eagles' best defensive player. The Muldoon brothers will serve as Howardsville's team captains.

"Kaden is very self-motivated to become a better basketball player. His goal is to be the best player that he can be," Ken Sparks said. "John Paul is explosive and has really refined his jump shot to where he can be a scoring threat. He sees the floor very well and can really push the ball up the floor without turning it over. We're going to see big strides from him because of his determination and drive.

"Colin is a great overall player. He's a threat from the outside and can score inside with his height as well. If we're going to be successful, he and Dylan have to bring the same drive that John Paul and Kaden bring to the court.”

"I've coached all of the guys on our team for the last three seasons except one,” Sparks added. “We talk about being well-rounded. These guys are the best academically and spiritual leaders in our school."

Howardsville Christian’s most well-known alumni is Dylan Jergens, the third-leading scorer in state history with 2,782 career points.

The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (During the fall soccer season, the Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose helped Howardsville win a second-straight District title. The Eagles then lost 5-0 in the Regional Semifinal to eventual Division 4 champion Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Both Muldoons, Kaden Sparks and Rose were named to the first-team all-BCS and District soccer squads.

The Muldoons were the two main catalysts in the Eagles' soccer run, along with Lukas Krueger. Dylan Muldoon had 28 goals and nine assists, while Colin Muldoon posted 14 goals and eight assists. Krueger added 19 goals to go with 16 assists. Kaden Sparks had five goals and four assists, and Rose added three goals and three assists.

Steve Muldoon, Colin and Dylan's father and Howardsville's head boys soccer coach, sees many correlations between soccer and basketball that will bring the Eagles success in hoops this winter.

"Communication is key. A team that doesn't talk on the field/court isn't going to win. They learn how to correct and encourage one another to deal with problems without getting too negative," Steve Muldoon said. "Individually, they learn how to anticipate. There isn't much difference between anticipating a pass and stepping in front of it in soccer or basketball or making a hard run down the court/field to get open for a layup/counterattack. They learn how to react and make the correct decision under pressure. The skills needed to do it in soccer and basketball are different, but most of it is mental and that carries over."

Determination was another big factor for Howardsville's soccer success this fall.

"We beat Lansing Christian this fall in a weekend soccer tournament and they are a much bigger and physical team than us, but we managed to beat them," Colin Muldoon said. "That win gave us a lot of confidence for the remainder of the season that we could beat anyone."


The family dynamic doesn't stop with Howardsville's boys basketball team.

Senior Kyla Sparks, Ken's daughter and Kaden's older sister, is one of three cousins on the roster for a Howardsville girls team that finished 12-11 last year. All five starters are back for that Eagles team as well.

"As a team, we want to improve on last year's record. With all our starters back, we feel we have a good shot to finish at the top of both our conference and District. Most of our basketball team also played volleyball this fall, and we view us all as family," Kyla Sparks said. "Being able to play with my two cousins makes good lifelong memories."

Kyla Sparks, who averaged 12 points per game her junior year, starts with sophomore cousins Kelsie Muldoon and Kate Evans. Those three also started on the varsity volleyball team that captured its first District title since 1997.

Coincidently, the mothers of Kyla, Kelsie and Kate were all on the 1997 District champion volleyball team.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Colin Muldoon drives to the basket against his twin brother Dylan Muldoon during recent Howardsville Christian boys basketball practice. (Middle) Eagles varsity boys basketball coach Ken Sparks, far left, is pictured by the school's trophy case with his four returning starters Colin Muldoon, Dylan Muldoon, Kaden Sparks and John Paul Rose. (Below) The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams earned District titles during the fall. (Top and middle photos by Scott Hassinger. District championship photos courtesy of Howardsville Christian School.)