Thank You from Second Half

January 25, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Next week will mark the one-year birthday of Second Half, our place to tell your high school sports stories.

And I thank you for helping us to such a great start.

We knew what we hoped to accomplish starting this site a year ago, but we've learned quite a bit during a relatively short time. Although we continue to pursue the mission of being home of the state’s best high school stories and a daily stop for fans, we’ll continue to experiment to figure out what you'd most like to see and how best we can continue to pass along the great things happening in MHSAA athletics.

A few things to call to your attention as we move ahead:

  • First and foremost, we strive to tell your stories – hoping to hit every sport and all regions of our state – and have some intriguing ones coming up as we get into the second half of the winter season. Stay tuned.
  • Second Half is the home for the “Battle of the Fans II.” We have visits to Buchanan and Vandercook Lake next week, followed by Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Zeeland East the week after. We’ll announce the winner Feb. 22. All will be found here first.
  • We've revamped our video page (see menu across the top of this screen) and will be adding more videos more regularly in the year to come.
  • After a brief hiatus, we’ll next week bring back “High 5s” featuring two athletes and a team that have done great things this season.
  • What you’re reading now is the first of a weekly “First Pitch” blog that will allow us to post more of the quick hits we run across in our regular travels. Make sure to continue checking out the twice-weekly blog by Executive Director Jack Roberts, as well as the Viewpoints and SAC Sound-Offs supplied regularly by our friends from the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and the members of our Student Advisory Council, respectively.
  • We began providing in-depth statewide coverage – both previewing and then postgame reporting – of our Finals in every sport this fall, and hope to become your first and fastest source for the stories behind our championships.

We’re always looking for ideas both for stories or any other features you’d like to see – and feel free to send them directly to me at

And again, thank you again for coming to our site today. We look forward to seeing you more in the year to come.

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

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

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.