Former Cardinal Mooney Coach Earns Breslin Return as Official

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 31, 2022

Jim McAndrews felt anxious and excited both times he was on the floor during basketball Finals weekend at the Breslin Center.

But those feelings were a bit different as an assistant coach at Marine City Cardinal Mooney in 2010 than they were as a referee this year.

“It was different because I was worried about myself (as a referee) versus having to worry about high school kids and not making a mistake to screw it up for them (as a coach),” McAndrews said. “This was a little less pressure than that. With refereeing, you kind of just worry about yourself.”

McAndrews served as the head official in the Division 2 Girls Semifinal between Grand Rapids West Catholic and Detroit Country Day on March 18. That Breslin appearance came 12 years after he was an assistant for his brother, Mike McAndrews, during Mooney’s runner-up run in Class D boys in 2010. 

He also coached with his sister, Susan Everhart, who led the Mooney girls to the Semifinals in 2008 and a runner-up finish in 2009. Those tournaments ended at Eastern Michigan University, but all of them gave him a rare look at the experience from two very different angles.

“I wasn’t walking in blindly,” McAndrew said. “I think what helps me in my officiating duties is having been there and knowing what the coaches are expecting and what they need. I think that helps me to communicate things to them. Being (at Breslin as a coach) and seeing that helped.”

McAndrews has been reffing since leaving his brother’s staff in 2011. That ended a long run in coaching which started in 1989 when he was an assistant coach at Mooney under Dave Jackson. After one season in that role, he took over the program and coached the Cardinals for a decade. That included coaching his brother, who he would later coach with for another eight years.

It didn’t even take a full season for him to get back on the court, albeit in a different role, after leaving the coaching ranks.

“I missed the game,” Jim McAndrews said. “Refereeing gives you an opportunity to get your competitive juices going a little bit. You get a little exercise, and the relationships you get to make are amazing. There’s nothing like being in the gym and talking hoops with other like-minded people: junkies. Basketball junkies. It’s a community, and it’s a really good community. We all want good stuff for the kids, and we want to help out. Plus, I enjoy seeing the local talent.”

Marine City Cardinal Mooney basketballMcAndrews, whose full-time job is in automotive supply sales, refs mostly in the Metro Detroit area and the Thumb, working games in the Catholic League, Macomb Area Conference and Blue Water Area Conference.

Being a referee has not only allowed him to stay in the game and the high school basketball community, but it’s also introduced him to new people who have the same love for the game.

“This community really is special,” he said. “We’re not in it to get rich. We’re in it because we’re passionate about the game.”

This year’s Semifinal was his first, and he was joined on the court by Jerry Armstrong and Douglas Richardson. It was the trio’s first time together.

“That can be part of the challenge,” McAndrews said. “You have to be able to adapt to other people’s way of doing things that you’ve never met before. That’s part of it. It’s about officiating the game as well as challenging yourself.”

Another challenge of refereeing during Finals weekend is the increase of eyes on the game, and the extra pressure that can bring. 

“In this particular case, it was my first time (reffing) on TV,” McAndrews said. “There’s commentators with replays, and there are different responsibilities in regard to timeouts. There was a little anxiety. I said to my partners that I’m just going to try to smile, be in the moment and enjoy it, because it’s been a crazy couple years. But your peers are watching, other referees are watching, and they’ll let you know if you miss something.”

The game went off without any issues, and the experience ended up being even better than McAndrews expected, as his kids were able to be on the court with him.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “I can’t think of a better word for it. My family was able to get involved, and we had first-class accommodations. My kids were able to be the ball boy and the water guy for me, so this wasn’t just for me. We were very appreciative of it all, and it was really, really fun.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Jim McAndrews works this season’s Division 2 Semifinals between Grand Rapids West Catholic and Detroit Country Day. (Middle) McAndrews, kneeling lower left, serves as an assistant coach during Cardinal Mooney’s run to Breslin in 2010. (Top photo by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; middle courtesy the McAndrews family.)

Longtime Taylor AD, Game Official Ristovski Chose Athletics as Way to Give Back

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

February 20, 2024

There is a basketball court 5,000 miles from Sterling Heights with “MHL” painted on the center court.

Greater DetroitIt’s not the name of a local basketball league in the village where it is located – Siricino, Macedonia. Instead, it stands for Madison, Haleigh and Lola, the three daughters of longtime Michigan basketball coach, referee and athletic director Loren Ristovski.

“My dad loved going back (to Macedonia),” said Madison Ristovski. “He’s probably gone every summer since about 2017. His whole family still lives there. He loved going and visiting and seeing everyone.

“It was always a goal of his to give back to where he came from. He and Mom donated to the village to build a soccer field and basketball court with lights and everything. It was a pretty big deal. It’s something he wanted to do for them back home. We were very proud he did that.”

Loren Ristovski, athletic director for Taylor schools, died earlier this month while on leave to have surgery on his foot. It was a shock to his family, friends, and the Taylor community.

“It was a heavy blow,” said Matt Joseph, girls basketball coach at Utica Ford and a longtime friend of the Ristovski family. “It was like getting kicked in the gut. Basketball was his passion. Next to his family, basketball was definitely No. 1. He loved the game and all the intricacies of it. He loved seeing kids excel.”

Loren Ristovski heads an all-family officiating crew with Lola and his brother Dean Ristovski.Ristovski emigrated from Macedonia to Michigan when he was 9. He went to high school at Hamtramck St. Florian, where he excelled at basketball. He went to Wayne State University to get a degree in criminal justice and had plans to become a lawyer.

Before he could take the Law School Admission Test, however, basketball came calling.

“He started coaching at Henry Ford High School and Fuhrmann Middle School,” Madison said. “Once he realized how much he enjoyed coaching, he decided to go into education. He stayed the entire time. He never went to law school.”

Loren Ristovski became the head coach at Harper Woods but gave that up when his daughters were ready to start playing in high school.

“He gave up coaching varsity at Harper Woods so he could be at every one of my games,” Madison said.

He also coached them as youngsters, often teaming with Joseph to coach an AAU team.

“I met him when Madison was 5,” Joseph said. “He and I decided to put our daughters in the same parks and recreation team, and next thing you know we were coaching AAU.”

With Ristovski’s tutoring, Madison, Haleigh, and Lola all excelled at the game, each playing Division I college basketball after standout careers at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. In 2012, Liggett reached the Class C Final with all three starting. They combined for 55 of Liggett’s 57 points in the championship game, with Madison scoring 42 after earlier that week receiving the Miss Basketball Award.

Lola and Haleigh played at the University of Detroit Mercy, and Madison played at the University of Michigan. Today, Haleigh lives on the west side of the state and plays recreational basketball. Lola is a referee in the Catholic High School League as well as for the Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and also works area Division III college games.

Madison is a teacher and the varsity girls basketball coach at Sterling Heights Stevenson.

“He taught us the game when we were very, very young,” Madison said. “We grew up in the gym with him and watched him coach his team. He coached me my whole life. He was very instrumental – he taught us all those things you need to become an athlete, and more importantly the things you need to do to succeed in life.”

Her dad is the reason she became a coach.

The daughters’ initials “MHL” glow on the court the family funded in Macedonia.“Watching my dad coach and seeing the impact he had on his high school athletes and even the kids in our church community – it inspired me to want to coach as well and give back like he did,” she said. “I watched him with my teammates and the impact he had on them. I thought it would be so cool if I could do the same for others.”

Loren Ristovski left a legacy at Taylor, too. School officials recounted several stories of how he balanced athletic budgets with the needs of student-athletes. He would lead fundraising efforts, created the Bitty Ball program for youth basketball players and cheerleaders and helped students become certified officials – and then would hire them to officiate games.

“He didn’t say no,” said Taylor boys basketball coach Chris Simons. “We made it work. We didn’t go out and ask people for a bunch of money. We would just do it. We all pulled together and made it work. Loren did everything he could to make things as pretty and presentable as he could with the budget we had.”

Ristovski also put on summer camps at both Taylor and at the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse in Sterling Heights, where he lived. He commuted about an hour to Taylor every day.

“He loved Taylor,” Madison said. “He loved who he worked with and the students. He included us, too. My mom would run the ticket table or do the scoreboard clock. I don’t know how many times I sold tickets for volleyball tournaments with him. He loved his people and loved having us there with him.”

Loren Ristovski, who played professional basketball in Europe during the late 1980s, ran well over 20 marathons in his life, including the Boston Marathon. He was a registered MHSAA official for 16 years, and in the weeks before his passing he refereed a varsity game in Rochester with his daughter, Lola.

“He looked at basketball, I think, differently than other people do,” Madison said. “He saw it as a way to have relationships with other people, to help people achieve their goals and to find meaningful relationships with others. It was more than just a game to him.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Loren Ristovski, far left, and wife Svetlana support their lineup of Division I basketball-playing daughters – from left: Madison, Haleigh and Lola. (Middle) Loren Ristovski heads an all-family officiating crew with Lola and his brother Dean Ristovski. (Below) The daughters’ initials “MHL” glow on the court the family funded in Macedonia. (Photos courtesy of Madison Ristovski.)