West Bloomfield Shows Multiple Ways It Wins In Pulling 1 Closer to Potential Repeat

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

March 17, 2023

EAST LANSING – The versatility of West Bloomfield was on full display during Friday afternoon’s first Division 1 Semifinal at Breslin Center.

In the first half, the Lakers pounded the ball inside to 5-foot-11 senior forward Sydney Hendrix, who scored 12 of her 20 points during the first quarter – and, on the rare occasion she did miss, her teammates continuously grabbed offensive rebounds until they scored.

In the second half, it was time for some full-court pressure featuring multi-talented junior twins Indya Davis (a team-high 23 points and 12 rebounds) and Summer Davis (20 points), who swarmed the Salem guards, producing one easy basket after another.

The end result was a great afternoon for green-clad West Bloomfield on St. Patrick’s Day, as a comfortable 78-53 victory put the Lakers in position to capture a second-consecutive Division 1 title Saturday.

“We’re not satisfied with that,” said West Bloomfield coach Darrin McAllister, who is now 51-3 in his two seasons as coach. “We’ve done better. We hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

West Bloomfield, 26-2 and champion of the Oakland Activities Association Red, advanced to Saturday’s 12:15 p.m. Division 1 title game against Rockford.

Hendrix, a four-year varsity starter who has committed to Division I Florida A&M, asked for the ball in the post repeatedly to start the game, leading her team to a 16-8 lead after one quarter.

The Lakers were relentless on the boards, completing the first half with a better than 2-to-1 rebounding advantage and finishing the game with a 47-27 edge on the glass.

“Going into the game, we had that mentality to go to the rack,” said Hendrix, the daughter of Niki Sevillian-Hendrix, who starred at Flint Northwestern and then won a national title at Stanford in 1992. “My plan was to go to the hoop until they stopped me, and they weren’t stopping me.”

After building a comfortable 33-19 halftime lead behind their dominant inside game, McAllister and the Lakers shifted gears in the third quarter – showcasing the team’s full-court skills.

Led by the Davis twins – who McAllister has called “Swiss Army knives” because of their ability to do so many different things – the Lakers gave Salem fits with a suffocating press, forcing six turnovers in the first three minutes of the third quarter as a 14-4 run made the lead 24 points.

“That (press) got us going on offense and got everyone pumped up,” said Summer Davis, who finished with a team-high four assists.

West Bloomfield, which also has a Class A runner-up finish from 1989, had a comfortable 57-34 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Lakers' Indya Davis (24) is among those defending as Madison Morson pulls up for a jumper.

Salem, which finished 2-15 just two seasons ago, received an impressive individual performance from Madison Morson.

Morson, an athletic 5-9 junior, scored all eight of her team’s points in the first quarter and never slowed down, finishing with a game-high 31 points and six rebounds.

“I was looking forward to it,” said Morson, who tweaked her ankle in the Rocks’ Quarterfinal win over Riverview on Tuesday but showed no ill effects. “We knew they were going to crash the boards hard and be reaching their hands out for everything.”

Senior guard Shahd Bakkar scored 15 points, but no other Salem player scored more than three.

“This is a dream; this is a movie,” said second-year Salem coach Rod Wells. “Think about it: these seniors won a combined four games in their freshman and sophomore years. So they went from winning four games to the Final Four.”

Wells is also excited to have Morson back for one more year.

“Madison is a hidden gem,” Wells explained. “She is one of the best players in the state, and she does it so smooth. Her teammates love playing with her because she’s not a ball-hog.”

The Rocks shot just 34 percent (compared to 47 percent for West Bloomfield) from the floor and hurt themselves with 20 turnovers, many coming against the full-court press in the third quarter.

West Bloomfield, whose closest tournament game was an 18-point win over Lake Orion in the Regional Final, has now won its six tournament games by an average of 29.5 points.

McAllister hopes his team has enough left in the tank for one more big win and a second-straight championship.

“We didn’t want to come out right away today with our full-court press, having to play back-to-back games,” explained McAllister. “We know we always get the other team’s best effort as defending state champions, and we have to be ready.”

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PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield's Kendall Hendrix gets up a shot during Friday's first Division 1 Semifinal at Breslin Center, with Salem's Abby Resovsky defending. (Middle) The Lakers' Indya Davis (24) is among those defending as Madison Morson pulls up for a jumper.

Howardsville Christian Striving to Transfer Fall Successes to Basketball Court

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)