By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This weekend was a sad one for those who work in Michigan high school athletics or have appreciated the contributions from three who gave significantly to our games but died after long fights with cancer.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart's Keisha Brown, Grand Haven's Robin Bye and Haslett's Jamie Gent left memorable legacies in their passing – Brown on Thursday, Gent on Friday and Bye on Saturday.
Following are just a few details of their contributions to schools and sports, followed by a handful of Twitter posts celebrating their commitments.
- Brown in 2006 became the first and only female coach to lead a boys team to the MHSAA Basketball Finals, guiding the Irish to the Class D Final before they fell to Wyoming Tri-unity Christian. She also served as principal and athletic director at Sacred Heart and coached the boys basketball team to a 114-30 record before taking over the Alma College women’s program, which she coached through this season. Click to read the memorial column from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun’s Jim Lahde.
"RIP Keisha Brown. What a truly inspiring human being that battled cancer with courage and strength. My thoughts are with her family.” – Oakland Press reporter Drew Ellis, formerly of the Morning Sun
“Rest in Peace Keisha Brown #TrueWarrior. Words cannot express my sadness #HeartBroken.” – Alma College Sports Information Director Mike Hanson
- Bye worked in the Grand Haven school system for 34 years, including the last two-plus as athletic director after formerly serving as an assistant and a girls basketball coach. He also had been a middle school art teacher in the district, and last year received its “Spirit of Grand Haven” award for commitment and dedication to Grand Haven schools. Click to read the story on his passing from the Muskegon Chronicle’s Scott Brandenburg.
“Thinking of the Bye family tonight. Robin will be missed. As a person and an AD, he made me want to be better a person/coach. God Bless.” – Grand Haven boys basketball coach Steve Hewitt.
“I will miss Robin Bye. He made a big difference for the youth in our town, more than an athletic director; an inspiration.” – Grand Haven parent Pat McGinnis
- Gent began his career at Haslett in 1967 as a middle school teacher and high school coach in three sports. He was head coach of the track and field, boys basketball and football varsity teams at different times and began his second stint as the school’s athletic director in 1991. He also was an MHSAA registered official for more than 15 years and a mentor to many both in the Lansing area and statewide through his contributions to the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. He received the MHSAA’s Charles E. Forsythe Award in 2008. See below for a video posted that year in honor of Gent as he retired as athletic director, and click for Dick Hoekstra's piece in the Lansing State Journal posted today.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Jamie Gent, long time Haslett HS athletic director. Really great guy, very kind hearted.” – former Haslett athlete, current White Pigeon teacher/coach Kurt Twichell
“Jamie Gent was one of the best ADs I had the privilege to know. A great loss tonight for the Haslett community.” – Chelsea football coach Brad Bush
PHOTOS: (Clockwise from left) Former Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart boys basketball coach Keisha Brown comforts one of her players after the Irish fell in the Class D Final in 2006. Jamie Gent, left, receives his Charles E. Forsythe Award from Negaunee's Jim Derocher during the 2008 Boys Basketball Finals. Grand Haven athletic director, Robin Bye, is recognized as an assistant coach on the 1981 girls basketball team inducted into the Grand Haven sports Hall of Fame.
Another girls basketball season is underway, and the best from 2022-23 are wasting no time seeing how they match up this winter.
Every Monday through the MHSAA Finals in March we’ll look back at the previous week’s results that were most attention-grabbing across the state, highlight a few programs in every division on the rise and glance at some of the games coming up that pop off the page most. One week in, and we’ve already had our share of headline-grabbers with more immediately on the way – read on for details.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
2. Detroit Renaissance 53, Lansing Catholic 46 The Phoenix (2-0), a Division 1 semifinalist last season, earned the headliner for opening week by edging the reigning Division 2 champion Cougars (0-1).
2. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep 45, Maple City Glen Lake 38 The Irish (3-0) reached the Division 4 Quarterfinals last season, and highlighted the first week of this one with this win over the reigning champion Lakers (2-1).
3. Lake Linden-Hubbell 48, Baraga 45 The Lakes (2-0) went a combined 1-2 against Baraga (1-1) last season – with a District Final loss as the Vikings went on to finish Division 4 runners-up.
4. Howell 60, Farmington Hills Mercy 59 Gabby Piepho scored 34 points to lead Howell (2-0) past Mercy (0-1), a Division 1 Regional finalist last season.
5. Frankenmuth 53, Freeland 51 On a night when Frankenmuth honored late star Keri Frahm, a 2016 grad who died in a car crash in October, the Eagles (2-0) held on for what no doubt will be a key league win over the Falcons (1-1).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Bloomfield Hills Marian (2-0) A rough start last season turned into a 10-14 finish for Marian, but the Mustangs did win six of their last seven games and picked right back up with a 2-0 start last week. Marian opened with a 57-44 win over Imlay City, avenging a six-point loss from last winter, and then defeated Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest.
Milford (2-0) The Mavericks are off to a quick start under new coach Tim Olszewski, who came to Milford after a successful run at Howell. They edged Fowlerville 27-23 and then defeated Waterford Mott, after ending last season with a District Semifinal loss to Olszewski’s Highlanders.
Detroit Country Day (2-0) Past star Amber Deane’s first season as coach ended impressively with a 17-7 record and triple-overtime loss to Goodrich in a Regional Final, and she has Country Day off to a fast start. The Yellowjackets doubled up Birmingham Groves to open and defeated Tecumseh 66-52 at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep’s Ice Breaker Classic; Tecumseh finished 20-5 last season.
Shepherd (2-0) After building from seven wins two seasons ago to a 10-13 finish last winter, Shepherd may be on the verge of another advance. The BlueJays opened by edging Beal City 42-40 – Beal City won 14 games last season – and then defeated Gladwin 55-50 in double overtime.
Evart (2-0) The Wildcats’ matchups with Lake City last season had Highland Conference and statewide implications – Evart won the first, but Lake City won the next two to claim league and District titles. Evart has the early upper hand again, following up last week’s 20-point win over Reed City with a 42-41 victory over the Trojans.
Perry (2-0) The Ramblers have improved from zero to four to six wins over the last three seasons, respectively, and are well on their way to increasing that total again. Perry opened with a 38-37 win over Morrice (after losing to the Orioles last season) and 44-27 victory over Byron, and have another fresh start moving to the Central Michigan Athletic Conference this winter.
Colon (2-0) The Magi finished 21-5 last season, reaching the Division 4 Regional Finals before falling to Hackett (highlighted above). Colon began this one with a 52-33 win over Adrian Lenawee Christian, which made the Semifinals last winter, before defeating Battle Creek St. Philip big to finish the week.
Lutheran Westland (2-0) The Warriors are another team quickly pursuing an improvement over last season, when they finished 10-14. They opened with a 44-24 win over Ann Arbor Greenhills, then defeated Whitmore Lake 28-19 – Whitmore Lake downed Westland twice last season on the way to winning the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Red title.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Wednesday – Kingston (2-0) at Goodrich (2-0) – These two finished a combined 49-6 last winter, with Kingston reaching the Division 4 Quarterfinals and Goodrich playing in the Division 2 Semifinals.
Thursday – Salem (2-0) at West Bloomfield (0-0) – This is a rematch from last season’s Division 1 Semifinals, won by West Bloomfield, and headlines the Kensington Lakes Activities Association/Oakland Activities Association Challenge.
Friday – Rockford (2-0) at Muskegon (1-1) – The reigning Division 1 champion Rams travel to take on the Big Reds, who are looking to avenge last season’s 19-point loss after which they went 15-5 to finish the winter.
Saturday – Detroit Edison (0-0) vs. Detroit Country Day (2-0) at Belleville – This is arguably the most intriguing matchup from the Best of Michigan Holiday Classic and matches teams with high aspirations in Division 2.
Saturday – Midland Dow (1-1) vs. Salem (2-0) at Belleville – This Best of Michigan game matches a Dow program that’s regularly among Division 1 contenders with a Salem team that joined the elite last season.
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PHOTOS (Top) Flint Powers Catholic and Davison face off in a season opener, won by the Chargers 73-41. (Middle) An Otsego player puts up a shot during her team's 44-35 loss to Portage Central. (Top photo by Terry Lyons; middle photo by Gary Shook.)