Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 1

December 5, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Welcome to the second week of the 2016-17 girls basketball season – and this winter’s first renovated “Breslin Bound” report, powered by MI Student Aid.

Over the last few seasons, we’ve weekly posted looks at teams to watch in each class with an eye on the end-of-season MHSAA Tournament. We’re changing things up and expanding a little too to make sure you know about all of the most significant scores from the week that was – like, for example, two of last year’s MHSAA champions suffering losses over the first seven days of this season – plus a few ideas on what games could be especially important in the week to come.

Results and schedules are based on what’s published for each school at To offer corrections or missing scores, please contact me at [email protected].  

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. Bloomfield Hills Marian 56, Warren Cousino 42 – The Mustangs bounced back from an opening-night loss to hand reigning Class A champion Cousino a double-digit defeat at University of Detroit Mercy.

2. Williamston 37, Marshall 31 – The Hornets were District champs a year ago but can set their sights higher, especially after handing this loss to the reigning Class B champion Redhawks.

3. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 52, Muskegon Mona Shores 39 – The Sailors rightly have Class A title aspirations this winter, but reigning Class C champion Arbor Prep is loaded with future college players as well and should be a contender despite moving into Class B.

4. Manistee 50, Frankfort 34 – One of the few hiccups on Manistee’s run to the Class B Quarterfinals last season was a loss in the regular-season finale to Frankfort, which won 18 games total as the Chippewas finished 21-4.

5. Dearborn 50, Northville 49 – The Mustangs beat Dearborn 49-38 on opening night last season and ended the winter in the Class A Quarterfinals; Dearborn, which won 16 games last season, will be hoping for similar momentum.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:


Canton (2-0) – The Chiefs are coming off a league title and 17-5 record after ending last season in the District Final; they look poised for more after a week that included handing Detroit Cass Tech a 56-30 defeat and avenging last season’s opening loss to Marian with a 43-40 victory over the Mustangs.

Marquette (2-0) – The Redettes are seeking their third straight 20-win season and finished last week with a 39-38 victory over Brighton, which had opened with two wins.


Edwardsburg (2-0) – The Eddies tied for second last season in the Wolverine Conference South, just a win behind champion Sturgis; they have the upper hand early this time after beating Sturgis 61-38 following a 37-32 opening-night win over Niles.

Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (3-0) – The Gators are wasting no time making their Class B presence felt after winning Class C a year ago; the win over Mona Shores is proof last winter’s 25-2 record could transfer, especially since Arbor Prep played mostly bigger schools last regular season too.


Charlevoix (2-0) – Much is expected from 6-foot-1 freshman Elise Stuck, and she’s made good by turning last season’s 36-point loss to Petoskey in a 43-39 win this time and last year’s 28-point defeat to Cheboygan into a 60-32 victory for the Rayders.

Michigan Center (1-0) – The Cardinals have played only one game, but hope a 43-40 overtime win over Jonesville proves telling. Last season, Michigan Center fell by nine to Jonesville and went on to finish 6-15 while Jonesville was 19-3.


Portland St. Patrick (2-0) – An up-and-down 2015-16 saw St. Patrick enter the ostseason with a losing record but reach its Regional Final; all signs point to keeping the good times rolling after a first week with wins over Lansing Christian (43-36) and Fulton (55-51).

Wolverine (2-0) – With nine losses over its final 10 games last winter, Wolverine slid to a 6-14 finish. The Wildcats are one-third of the way to equaling their success after beating Northport 39-33 in overtime and then Atlanta.

Can't-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:

Tuesday: East Lansing (1-0) at DeWitt (2-0) – These two Lansing-area Class A powers regularly meet, with DeWitt claiming a 12-point win last winter before both went on to division championships in the Capital Area Activities Conference.

Tuesday: Muskegon (1-0) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-1) – After graduating the Miss Basketball runner-up from a year ago, the Big Reds can continue to see how they might measure up against an annual Class B power.

Tuesday: Reese (1-1) at Millington (1-0) – These two combined to go 32-13 last season, with Reese winning their lone meeting by 18 points; the Rockets are coming off an 11-point win over Frankenmuth, which won Millington’s Tri-Valley Conference East last winter.

Wednesday: Morenci (1-1) at Pittsford (2-0) – The reigning Class D champion Wildcats have increased their winning streak to 29 straight; Morenci won 13 games last season before falling to Pittsford in their District.

Friday: Sault Ste. Marie (1-0) at St. Ignace (0-0) – The Blue Devils’ 15-6 run last season included a split with the Straits Area Conference rival Saints, who as usual ended up in a Class C Quarterfinal.  

Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: Flint Carman-Ainsworth (defending) earned its first win of the season Friday, 65-26 over Swartz Creek. (Click for more from Varsity Monthly.)  

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.)