March Hoops Magic Continues to Connect Bradford Family

By Tom Spencer
Special for

March 26, 2021

Bear Lake – Check. Onekama? You bet. Traverse City West? Yup.

Glen Lake? Absolutely!

Chances are if you played basketball at one of these schools over the last decade or so, you were coached by a very special educator named Bradford. Perhaps not the same Bradford, but it definitely was a member of the Onekama-raised family with a long line of special education teachers.

While growing up on the farm of parents Arden and Lynn in Onekama, the future educators picked up the love of the game of basketball. Some went on to play college ball, and all reportedly did some coaching.

March Madness has always been a lot of fun in the Bradford family.

“Our family has had a lot of success in March Madness, and it is fun to be able to talk about it with each other and with our kids,” said Nathan Bradford, currently the boys basketball coach, athletic director and special ed teacher at Onekama.  “As a player, I also played at the Breslin Center and in the state Semifinals.  

“It was an experience that I will never forget,” he continued. “My sisters have also made it to the state Semifinals.”

Nick Bradford joined Nathan’s staff as the junior varsity boys coach. The Portagers ended their season Thursday night with a hard-fought loss to Brethren after leading most of the way.

One of the sisters, April, had a long run as the Bear Lake girls coach. She still teaches special ed there.

Maple City Glen Lake girls basketballJason Bradford, whose undefeated Glen Lake girls squad plays for the District championship tonight against Elk Rapids, has fond memories of March Madness on the Bradford farm.

“The one that got into it the most was probably Nate,” Jason said. “We’d go back and forth picking different teams.”  

“We were on the living room floor cheering – it was a friendly competitive thing,” he continued. “We were Michigan State fans. Whenever they were in the mix, we were always cheering for them.”

While the father of five doesn’t have the Spartans to root on any longer this year, he does have the Lakers. All the Bradfords will likely be cheering on the Lakers as they try to move on from last season’s abrupt end.

Jason’s oldest son, J.J., is now a freshman in college. He saw his senior season at Glen Lake come to an end with the pandemic outbreak halting tournament play last March as he was preparing for a District Final game.  

His daughters, Grace, now a junior, and Maddie, a sophomore, advanced to the Regional Final against Manton last year and were pretty much boarding the bus when things stopped.

Season-ending losses have always caused sleep deprivation for Jason. They have a bigger impact when his own kids are on the team.

“It might be tougher on them,” Jason acknowledged. “Maybe I put more pressure on them. (The season ending) still hurts, but you learn to deal with it.  

“You want the success for them,” he continued.  “Maybe I am a little more anxious for games ... it’s the pressure.”

But it is a great and fun time of year, Nathan noted.

“I always look at throwing records aside and showing up, giving it your all because you always have a chance to win during tournaments,” he said. “I have experienced both ends of the spectrum with teams with high expectations and getting upset and teams with nothing to lose and making a run.  

Bradford family“You always hope your team is peaking at the right time and you can advance in the tournaments.”

Jason and Nathan have never coached against each other. They both have young boys so that could change. The sibling rivalry has presented some competitiveness.

Bradford family 2They started coaching girls varsity basketball the same year and their teams were in different conferences at the time. Nathan moved to boys before Onekama and Glen Lake competed against each other in the Northwest Conference.

“We always set up a few (girls) scrimmages and I have to admit that Jason usually got the better of me at that time,” Nathan said. “I would say we really help each other out and talk coaching strategies quite a bit.  

“Usually after games we call each other and get the run down on each other's games,” Nathan added. “It helps having another sibling in the family that coaches a varsity sport to talk to and bounce things off of.”

The summer breaks helped lure the Bradfords into teaching so they could help out on the farm. Their upbringing paved their way. Coaching is a bonus.   

“While playing I always thought that it would be great to give back to the sport that gave me so many opportunities, and this led to me wanting to become a teacher and a coach,” Jason said. “Our dad taught us great work ethic and discipline growing up on a farm. Our mom is the most patient and caring individual you can meet and would do anything to help another individual.”

Tonight Glen Lake will take the floor without three seniors from last year’s team but with a lot more experience Jason hopes that bodes well for the Lakers.

“I feel we have a little more depth,” he pointed out. “We’re another year older, and it helps with confidence too.”

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Nathan Bradford (kneeling) and assistant and brother Nick Bradford huddle with their Onekama boys basketball team this season. (Middle) Jason Bradford guides his Maple City Glen Lake girls basketball team through an inbounds scenario, with daughters Grace inbounding and Maddie setting up to receive the pass. (Below) Clockwise from top left, Nick Bradford, Nathan Bradford, Grace Bradford, Jason Bradford and Maddie Bradford. (Onekama photos by Paul Cunningham. Glen Lake photos by Liz Moeggenberg.)

Jahfetson Makes History from 3-Point Range in Taking Baraga to 2023 Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 23, 2024

Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson graduated in 2023 as one of the most accomplished 3-point shooters in MHSAA history and coming off one of the most impressive single seasons from beyond the arc.

Her 103 3-pointers as a senior over 29 games were the second-most for one season and included eight in a Quarterfinal win over Mackinaw City – the second-most in an MHSAA Quarterfinal, Semifinal or Final.

She finished with 236 3-pointers over 96 games and four seasons, ranking 12th on that career list, and Baraga finished the season as Division 4 runner-up. She’s continuing her career at Northern Michigan.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click the heading to view the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Alma junior Bailey Walkington earned her school’s first single-season individual record book entry for girls basketball in 2022-23. She made the steals list with 143 over 23 games.

Dalton DeBoer became the latest Midland Dow long-range shooting ace to make the records after she drained 70 of 206 3-point attempts over 24 games in 2022-23. DeBoer is a junior this school year.

Durand senior Jordyn Lawrence earned her school’s first girls basketball individual record book entry with 15 steals in her team’s 44-31 win over Flint Kearsley on Dec. 2, 2022. She’s continuing at Mid-Michigan College.

Leah French finished her Engadine career in 2023 with a series of game, season and career record book entries detailing her scoring and defensive skills. She earned single-game listings for 54 points and 19 free throws against St. Ignace on Feb. 6, 2023, and nine 3-pointers against Manistique that Jan. 9. She made the single-season list with 81 3-pointers, 177 free throws and 168 steals over 25 games as a senior. And she made the career lists with 171 3-pointers, 354 free throws and 405 steals over 85 games and four seasons. She’s continuing her career at Aquinas College.

Arieonna Ware earned Battle Creek Central's first girls basketball record book entry with 51 points in a Feb. 11, 2020, win over Portage Northern. She actually finished with a triple-double, adding 12 rebounds and 12 steals. Ware also was added for 47 points in a March 6, 2019, District game against Sturgis.

Mesick senior Kayla McCoy made the MHSAA record in 2022-23 as a junior, totaling 144 steals over 23 games. It was Mesick’s first individual entry in the girls basketball record book.

Coldwater’s Carlee Crabtree made a career-high 52 3-pointers during her senior season of 2019-20 on the way to making the MHSAA career list for long-distance shots with 163, in 469 attempts, over four seasons and 88 games total. She went on to play at Central Michigan and Hope College.

Battle Creek Pennfield’s Kaylee Glidden capped her three-year varsity career in 2023 among the most accurate free-throw shooters in MHSAA history – and also among top 3-point aces. She made 90.6 percent of her free-throw attempts as a senior, good for fifth-highest percentage all-time for one season, and her 84.4-percent success rate ranks fourth on the career list. She also made the single-season 3-pointers list with 67 that winter and the career list with 168. She continued at Kellogg Community College and has committed to Great Lakes Christian College.

Larissa Huffman made a pair of career lists upon completing her four-year varsity career in 2023 at Mackinaw City. She was added for 468 assists and 411 steals, both over 92 games, and she’s continuing her career at St. Norbert (Wis.). Additionally, Mackinaw City was added to the single-game field goals list as a team for making at least 39 in a game six times over the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, with a high of 45.

Lansing Christian earned a listing on the team 3-pointers list when it sank 14 on 32 attempts against Webberville on Jan. 20, 2023. Seven players drained at least one of the long-distance shots.  

Grayling’s 66-49 win over Houghton Lake on Dec. 19 included one of the most impressive defensive performances of all-time as senior Makayla Watkins had 19 steals – tying for third-most in one game.

Brooklyn Columbia Central’s Zoandria Bamm grabbed 28 rebounds during a Feb. 14, 2023, game against Clinton to make the single-game list in that category and on the way to finishing her senior season with 380 rebounds over 25 games – tying for 13th most on that list. She’s playing at Jackson College.

Riley Abney became the first player to be listed for points scored in a quarter of a girls basketball game when she sank 21 of her 36 total during the fourth quarter of a 64-47 loss to Linden on Jan. 16. The Ortonville Brandon senior has committed to be a preferred walk-on at Oakland.

A pair of Paw Paw standouts earned single-game accomplishments within three days of each other in January. On Jan. 26 against Sturgis, junior AJ Rickli grabbed 31 rebounds, tied for seventh-most for one game. On Jan. 29 against Three Rivers, sophomore Stella Shaefer made the single-game assists list with 14.

Keira Maki joined the single-game points list on Feb. 22 when she scored 47 in Escanaba’s 64-49 win over Sault Ste. Marie. The senior will continue at Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

PHOTO Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson (22) brings the ball upcourt during the 2023 Division 4 Final against Glen Lake at Breslin Center.