Reaching Higher Returns, Expands
June 19, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The annual Reaching Higher showcases of Michigan’s top high school basketball players will return for their 10th year June 23 at Milford High School in Highland Township, and for the first time volleyball players will take part in the Reaching Higher experience during a showcase July 18 also at Milford.
Nearly 200 athletes with aspirations to play basketball and nearly 80 with hopes of playing volleyball at the college level will train and scrimmage under the tutelage of high school coaches from across the state and in front of college coaches expected to represent a number of NCAA, NAIA and junior college programs.
For both sports, the Reaching Higher experience includes classroom sessions for student-athletes and their parents as well as on-court drills and scrimmaging. The events aim to give athletes a vision of what it takes to become a college player and also succeed in college life. Reaching Higher is a combined effort by the Michigan High School Athletic Association with the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association.
For both sports, participants were selected by a committee of coaches association members based on nominations by member basketball or volleyball coaches. A complete list of June 23 expected attendees can be found on the basketball Reaching Higher page of the MHSAA Website, while a complete list of expected attendees for volleyball will be posted closer to that event on the Reaching Higher page for that sport.
The boys basketball event begins at 11 a.m. on June 23, with scrimmages running from 1-3:30 p.m. The girls basketball event begins at 3 p.m., with scrimmages from 5-7:30 p.m. Speakers for the boys session include Reggie Butler, a standout at Southfield-Lathrup High School who went on to play at Xavier University and professionally overseas. Girls session speakers include Cassie Breen, who starred for Brownstown Woodhaven High and Central Michigan University and played professionally this past season in Spain.
Longtime coach Dave Ginsberg will speak with athletes; he coached at a number of Michigan high schools and also was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Central Michigan University for 16 years, and he currently serves as the secretary/treasurer of the National High School Basketball Coaches Association. Longtime high school and college coach Marc Comstock – currently the boys varsity coach at Grass Lake High School – and former Saginaw Valley State University and current Flint Powers Catholic athletic director Mike Watson will conduct sessions with parents during players’ drill and practice sessions.
The volleyball event begins at 9:30 a.m. on July 18. A schedule for the day including speakers will be added to the volleyball Reaching Higher page of the MHSAA Website closer to the event.
Below, State Champs Sports Network explains a little bit more about the history of the basketball Reaching Higher event.
Beecher Earns Opportunity to 'Complete the Task' with Semifinal Win
By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com
March 23, 2023
EAST LANSING — Flint Beecher and Ecorse entered their Division 3 Semifinal on Thursday with at least one common thread of motivation.
Both lost in last year’s Semifinals, so both the Buccaneers and Raiders were looking to leave Breslin Center with some vindication.
Ultimately, Beecher was the team that did so, earning a 64-54 win over Ecorse and advancing to its seventh championship game since 2012.
Senior guard Robert Lee and senior forward Kevin Tiggs both scored 17 points to lead the way for Beecher (23-4).
“We’re not satisfied with this,” Beecher head coach Marquise Gray said. “This is just one part of completing the task.”
The difference in the game turned out to be that Beecher simply had more depth, which eventually wore down Ecorse.
Beecher featured an eight-player rotation, while Ecorse, with the exception of one substitution late in the third quarter, played its starters throughout until the game got away late.
“We figured we would wear them down,” Gray said. “Looking at their bench, we saw that they didn’t have a deep bench. But the focus, energy and effort was on us, and us executing defensively and offensively.”
A big reason why Ecorse was short-handed was because one of its best players, senior Kenneth Morrast, was out after suffering a broken wrist in a Regional Final.
Ecorse head coach Gerrod Abram said he believes his team would have won this weekend’s championship if his squad was at full strength, but also heaped praise on Beecher and its playmakers.
Abram said before Morrast’s injury, his squad didn’t play any zone all year. But after he was injured, Abram said his team had to adjust on the fly and start playing a zone defense that he didn’t want to employ, but had to in order to keep players out of foul trouble.
Senior Malik Olafioye scored 22 points, and sophomore point guard Darrien Reddick scored 14 to lead Ecorse (20-5).
“Extremely proud of the effort we put out,” Abram said. “We knew it was going to be a big task with the way they play. We gave everything that we had. We just ran out of gas at the end.”
Beecher took a 40-34 lead into the fourth quarter, but Ecorse scored the first five points of the fourth to cut Beecher’s lead to one with 6:10 remaining in the game.
The Buccaneers answered, going on a 9-0 run to grab a 49-39 lead with 4:30 left.
Ecorse closed to within seven at 51-44 with 3:37 remaining following a 3-pointer by Reddick, but Beecher responded with four straight points to take a 55-44 lead with 2:42 remaining.
Beecher ultimately punctuated the win on a flying dunk by Lee with 1:09 remaining. Lee was also fouled on the dunk, and he made the free throw for a three-point play to give Beecher a 60-48 lead.
“What I really focused on was just trying to get my teammates involved,” Lee said. “Not try to force shots. Just let the game come to me.”
Now, Beecher will turn its focus to reclaiming its status as the best in the state.
“That’s something we have talked about, remembering the feeling that we had last year when we didn’t complete the job,” Gray said. “Guys have been taking it to heart. It’s not a rite. You have to earn your way here. It’s not a given.”
PHOTOS (Top) Flint Beecher’s Robert Lee Jr. (22) sends a pass into the post during Thursday’s Semifinal win over Ecorse. (Middle) The Bucs’ Kevin Tiggs Jr. (1) pulls in a rebound while Ecorse’s Deontae Jude (11) also grabs for the ball.