Eventually, the sun will shine ...

April 25, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We all believe that, right?

Rain – and snow for some – has been the buzzword of this spring sports season. Just about every newspaper is writing about it and every athletic director, coach, player and parent is dreading it on a now-daily basis.

But eventually, we expect the weather to clear up and teams to play catch-up. To that end, there are limitations teams in some sports face when attempting to make up their games – but also opportunities to take advantage of while trying to fill out their regular-season schedules.

  • Girls soccer and girls and boys lacrosse teams may play only three games during a week, Monday through Sunday. A weekend tournament – which generally includes 2 to 3 shortened games – counts as only one in this equation.
  • Baseball and softball teams can play as many games as they want in a week, but no more than two on a school day – and baseball pitchers must not pitch for two days following their 30th out in a week.
  • For tennis, an individual may not play more than three matches in one day – unless she or he is playing in a league championship tournament featuring more than eight schools for which a fourth match would decide the championship. That player also could not have played more than six sets that day heading into that fourth and final match.
  • Golf and Track and Field do not have weekly contest limitations. Track and field athletes can compete in only four events per day.

As expected, a number of teams – especially for baseball and softball – are scheduling to smash in as many contests as possible into the next four weeks. Postseason play for tennis and lacrosse begins May 16 – three weeks from today.

But teams do have options.

One rarely used but anticipated to be used more this spring is an opportunity to continue playing regular-season contests through the final day of the MHSAA tournament in that sport. For example, a baseball team can continue making up games through June 15, the day of the MHSAA Finals in Battle Creek. A tennis team can play regular-season matches through June 1, etc.

Also, the MHSAA Executive Committee approved Thursday to allow for this spring two additional multi-team tournament dates for soccer and lacrosse, which will give those teams an opportunity to get in a few more games. That means soccer teams will be allowed to play in four multi-team tournaments instead of two, boys lacrosse four instead of two and girls lacrosse five instead of three.

Teams will have to do some juggling, no doubt, and all other tournament stipulations still apply (games generally are shortened so more can be played, etc.). But with a little creativity, teams could at least get in a few of their make-up games in this way.

Also, the Executive Committee approved a motion to waive the four-contest MHSAA tournament entry requirement for all Upper Peninsula schools in all sports this spring. As of the weekend, snow still covered parts of the U.P.

Gaps shrinking

Much has been discussed about minimums for all four MHSAA classes for 2013-14, and how they are the lowest student totals in at least a decade.

It’s true. The floor in Class A is 893 (down from 911 this school year), Class B starts at 429 (down from 449), Class C at 207 (down from 217) and Class D at 206 (down from 216).

However, there is a better way to crunch the numbers: Consider the shrinking gaps between the largest and smallest schools in each class.

For 2013-14, the gap in Class A is 1,888 students – 261 students fewer than 2007-08 and nearly 900 students fewer than in 2005-06. The gaps between largest and smallest in Classes B, C and D also are trending smaller – which means each class actually includes schools more similar in size, instead of a perceived other way around.

SAC 2013-14 on the way

We’re thankful for a valuable group of students who help us throughout the school year – our 16-member Student Advisory Council, made up of eight seniors and eight juniors from all over the state who are  charged with providing feedback on issues impacting educational athletics from a student’s perspective, while also assisting at MHSAA championships and with special projects like the “Battle of the Fans.”

Selecting the next class to join is a highlight of every spring – but hardly an easy process.

A six-member selection committee, myself included, considered 62 sophomore applicants today from all over the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, representing all four of our classes and nearly every sport we sponsor.

Every candidate is impressive for a variety of reasons. That’s what makes this difficult – we could pick any number of combinations to make up our new SAC class, and no doubt leaders galore will emerge from another impressive group.

But there are only eight spots on the council. And we’ll announce who received them later next week.

PHOTO: A golfer attempts to keep warm during a round on a dreary day earlier this season. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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.