High 5s: 11/28/12

November 28, 2012

The final MHSAA championships of the Fall 2012 season give us our final High 5s before heading into winter. This week, we recognize both an individual and a team that achieved new heights. 

Drake Harris
Grand Rapids Christian junior

A 6-foot-4, 180-pound receiver who has committed to play both football and basketball at Michigan State beginning in 2014, Harris posted one of the finest receiving season in MHSAA history capped by playing a huge role in his team's first MHSAA championship. The Eagles beat Orchard Lake St. Mary's 40-37 in overtime Saturday for the Division 3 title. His eight catches for a Finals-record 243 yards and a touchdown put his unofficial season totals at 91 catches for 2,015 yards and 25 scores. Once confirmed, the season yardage will rank as the most in MHSAA history and 12th nationally for one season (his yards per game rank fourth and yards per catch sixth on the NFHS lists). Harris also ranked fourth for catches and second for touchdown catches on the MHSAA single-season lists.

Just ducky: "I'm probably more energized now after he hit that kick," Harris said after teammate Joel Schipper's winning field goal Saturday. "I was probably more tired a little bit during the game. But we condition all practice. We play fast. We play like Oregon, move the ball, (at) a high tempo. We're all in condition, so we really weren't that tired." 

Bring on the new guy: Harris has caught more than 3,000 yards worth of passes from senior Alex VanDeVusse over the last two seasons, but will play with a new quarterback in 2013. "I've been with Alex since sophomore year. I guess I have to start over and work hard all next season and hope to get back here."  

Be like Calvin: "Calvin Johnson, I want to be just like him when I get older. I know I'm a little skinny right now, but when I get to college, I know they'll put weight on me. I watch film on him all the time, watch him running routes. So I take my game after him. He's the best wide receiver in the NFL right now, probably one of the best wide receivers to play the game, in my opinion." 

Click to read more. 

Portland football

The Raiders, unranked despite entering the postseason 8-1, finished with their first MHSAA title won in their first trip to the Finals. Portland defeated Grand Rapids West Catholic 12-9 in the Division 5 championship game after knocking out 2011 champion Flint Powers Catholic in the Regional Final. For the playoffs, Portland outscored its five opponents 169-66 while holding three to nine or fewer points. In finishing 13-1 and setting a school record for wins, the Raiders beat nine playoff teams total including eventual Division 3 Semifinalist DeWitt. 

Click to read more. 

Previous 2012-13 honorees:

Ferndale Caps Winter Season with 1st Boys Hoops Title Since 1966

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

March 25, 2023

EAST LANSING – One team was going to end a long championship drought in Saturday’s boys basketball Division 2 Final.

Ferndale’s was especially lengthy, and spanned more than five decades.

And now it is no longer.

The Eagles won their first Finals championship in 57 years with a 44-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian at Breslin Center.

Ferndale had last won a state title in 1966.

“The drought is over,” Eagles coach Juan Rickman said. “That’s big time, and the biggest part about making it down here was seeing how charged up the community was and the school was so charged up. It’s the greatest feeling to see how vested our community was in our success.”

Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim.Ferndale senior Christopher Williams led the way with 16 points and four rebounds.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “Especially since the past four years we’ve been to the same place and lost twice in a row to the same team, and now it feels like weight is lifted off my shoulders.

“We started off the season 1-5, and going till now we knew if we stayed together through adversity then we could do it. And it made it more impactful that it was our coach’s first state title, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Added senior point guard Cameron Reed, who had a game-high seven assists: “It’s incredibly special. I wasn't born back then, my teammates weren’t born and my coaches weren’t born. It definitely rejuvenated the whole city and community.”

Ferndale led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams shot poorly in the first half. The Eagles connected on a paltry 24 percent from the field, and South Christian on 35 percent of its attempts. Nate Brinks drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sailors a 16-14 halftime lead. 

Junior guard Jake Vermaas opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 19-14, but Ferndale made a charge.

The Eagles sliced the deficit to one (25-24) on a 3-pointer by Trenton Ruth, and Cameron Reed tied it at 28-28 with an acrobatic layup.

“Our team was mentally strong, and I’m so proud of them for their accomplishment,” Rickman said. “Just so committed to the process and just being resilient.”

Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.An 8-2 spurt by Ferndale over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter made it 36-30.

“That was extremely important, and we always want to win the first four minutes,” Rickman said. “And we tried to open up the fourth quarter with what we call a kill; we want to get five straight stops and score on two or three of those possessions so we can build a lead. We did that fairly well against a good team.”

South Christian was attempting to win football and basketball Finals championships during the same school year, and was looking for its first basketball title since 2005.

“It was a really hard-fought game and I thought we played at our speed, but it got away from us a little bit,” first-year Sailors coach Taylor Johnson said.

“But it doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year. We’ve been through it all, including three season-ending injuries, and to still make it to the state finals is an incredible feat.”

Senior Jacob DeHaan and Vermaas led the Sailors with 14 points apiece, while senior Sam Medendorp added seven points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Ferndale raises the Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) Christopher Williams (13) tries to power past South Christian’s Sam Weiss (23) to the rim. (Below) Cameron Reed (0) leads a break for the Eagles.