Finals Flashbacks

1988 Before a crowd of 13,609 at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Detroit Cooley became the first Detroit Public School League team to win back-to-back Class A titles since Detroit Southwestern accomplished the task back in 1925 and 1926. Senior Maurice Benson grabbed 19 rebounds and scored 12 points as the Cardinals downed Flint Northwestern, 66-55. Benson's performance helped take pressure off Cooley center Daniel Lyton, who dropped in 18 points. Outmatched on the inside, Northwestern was forced to move its game to the perimeter. Senior guard Freddie Darrough led the Wildcats with 20 points while senior forward Reggie Richardson tallied 12.

A battle of future Michigan State University players was a feature of the Class B showdown. Matt Steigenga of Grand Rapids South Christian, and Parish Hickman, 6-7, 205-pound forward from Redford Bishop Borgess, were the focal points of the game. Leading 53-45 after three quarters, Borgess appeared to be in the driver's seat. However, Steigenga began a Sailor comeback with a thundering dunk off an offensive rebound to open the fourth quarter of play. South Christian scored eight of the next 10 points, tying the contest at 55 with 5:29 remaining. Despite picking up his fourth personal foul before the end of the first half, Steigenga grabbed six offensive rebounds in the final frame, while Mark Wierenga, scored eight of his 21 points as the Sailors defeated Borgess, 69-66. The Spartans had one last chance when sophomore Shawn Respert hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to pull within three. The future MSU star launched a 35-footer at the buzzer that could have tied the game, but the shot bounced off the rim. Steigenga and Hickman each finished with 21 points apiece.
Saginaw Nouvel won its second straight title with a 68-54 win over Roscommon in Class C. The Panthers, who survived a semifinal scare against Three Oaks-River Valley, took a 31-27 lead at the half, then fought off various rallies by the Bucks for their 25th victory of the year against three defeats. Matt Bauer of Nouvel and Scott Ament of Roscommon each scored 16 points.
Northport's Sander Scott scored 39 points, but it was teammate Dan Stowe's six-foot jumper with three seconds to play that sealed a 80-78 victory over Beal City in Class D. Scott connected on 15 of 24 shots, including four of eight three-pointers, before fouling out with 2:52 to left in the game. Beal City received balanced scoring from Todd Schafer (21 points), Jason Gottleber (17) and Tim Block (15).
1978 The wait for an MHSAA title continued for Pontiac Central as it fell to Saginaw Valley Conference rival Flint Northern, 67-56, before a crowd of 12,340 in the Class A final at University of Michigan's Crisler Arena. The title was the eighth for the Vikings, while the Chiefs dropped to 0-4 in final games. Craig Tucker poured in 26 points to lead Northern, 23-3 on the year. David Lee scored 16 to lead Pontiac.
Junior center Donnell Plummer scored 18 points on nine-of-11 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Muskegon Heights to a 67-52 triumph over a Cinderella squad from Ecorse in Class B. With Plummer, who came off the bench in relief of senior Charles Patton, the Tigers sported an all-junior squad in the contest. Robert Kitchen and Cedric Scott added 12 points each for the Heights. Ecorse guard Kalonji Barnett led the Red Raiders with 22 points.
Playing a run-and-gun brand of ball under the guidance of first-year Coach Mike Rouse, Buchanan rolled to the Class C crown with a 77-65 win over Saginaw Sts. Peter & Paul. Gerald Busby and Dave Karpinski ran the Bucks fast break, with Busby posting 19 points and 16 assists on the day. Moses Kyles led the winners with 20 points. Dwayne Parker paced the Crusaders with 22 points.
Orchard Lake St. Mary earned its first MHSAA cage crown since 1933, defeating Detroit St. Martin dePorres, 67-52, in Class D. Greg Williamson scored 16, and Evaristo Perez 14 to lead St. Mary. Eugene Johnson notched 11 and Michael Taylor 10 for dePorres.
1968 Despite blizzard conditions in the Lansing area, fans once again packed Jenison Fieldhouse for the final rounds of the tournament. A school from Grand Rapids carried home the first Class A trophy in that city's history, as unheralded Ottawa Hills upset previously unbeaten Ypsilanti, 76-68. Co-champs of the Grand Rapids City League, the Indians had upset tournament favorite Saginaw in the quarterfinals. Ottawa Hills guard Ernie Cryer scored 25 points, including three consecutive 20-foot shots, to push the Indians into a 53-35 advantage early in the third quarter. Otis Smith, who helped the winners to a 52-29 rebounding advantage, added 15 points. Al Richison tallied 17 for Ypsilanti, while teammates Joe Frye and Craig Larsen added 14 and 13 points, respectively
Fred Thomann, Ypsilanti Willow Run's 24-year-old rookie coach, guided the Flyers to the Class B title, downing unbeaten Holland Christian, 77-65. It was a homecoming of sorts for Thomann, a former basketball player at Michigan State. The Flyers were led by 12-of-22 shooting by 5-7 senior guard Dave Hart. Hart ended with 32 points in the contest. Bob Valangevelde led Christian with 22 points.
Stanley Grayson scored 23 points as Detroit All Saints slipped past Saginaw St. Stephen, 56-55, to finish undefeated in Class C. Trailing 46-41 after three quarters, freshman Pete Miller sank two free throws to pull St. Stephen within a point, 54-53, with 12 seconds remaining. The 6-4 Grayson was fouled on the ensuing stall, and with the bonus in effect, sank both shots to seal the win. All Saints, which finished as runner-up in 1967 with five junior starters, brought home the first MHSAA title in the school's history.
Flint St. Matthew successfully defended its Class D title with a thrilling 71-69 win over a junior dominated Vanderbilt squad. John Sperla established an MHSAA record with 122 points in the final round (quarterfinal, semifinal, final games) of the tourney by posting 36 points in the championship match. (Detroit Southwestern's Antoine Joubert matched the three-game total in 1983.) Leading 58-45 with just over seven minutes to play, St. Matthew had to fend off a furious comeback by the Yellowjackets. Brian MacDonald's clutch free throws in the waning seconds of the game pushed St. Matthew over the top. Bailey Oliver ended with 18 for Vanderbilt.
1958 Benton Harbor clung to a slim 49-48 lead after three periods of play, but Detroit Austin Catholic's Dave DeBusschere scored five field goals in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to lead his team to a 71-68 victory over the Tigers in Class A. DeBusschere finished with 32 points. Dominant in their respective areas of the state, the schools were favorites to meet in the finals. The game marked Benton Harbor's second straight appearance in the championships, while Austin was only in its third year as a four-year high school. Chet Walker, who finished with 25 points for the Tigers, would go on to a distinguished career with Bradley University and the Chicago Bulls. DeBusschere went on to play for the University of Detroit, the Detroit Pistons and the New York Knicks.
Led by the Brandstatter brothers, Art and John, East Lansing rolled to a 62-51 win over River Rouge for the Class B crown. Art finished with 12 points including 10 of 11 shooting from the free throw line, while his younger brother ended with 15 points. The victory marked the first title for East Lansing, after losses in the final round in 1932 and 1945.
Muskegon Western Michigan Christian controlled the backboards and jumped out to a 19-point lead at the half en route to a 45-35 victory over Highland St. Benedict in Class C. The Ravens cut the margin to eight points on the strong shooting of Larry Gacki (17 points) before running out of steam. Junior Norm Vanderwel scored 20 for the Warriors. It was the first crown for Christian and head coach Elmer Walcott.
Chassell notched its third consecutive Class D crown, and its 65th straight win, with a 66-61 defeat of Owosso St Paul. The Blue Wave rallied to within three points, 62-59, before Chassell's Don Mattson fed a perfect pass to teammate Ken Tormala, who converted. Alden Tormala increased the lead to seven points with another bucket, ending St. Paul's chances. Mattson ended with 27 points--a Class D record at the time.
In Class E at Houghton one week earlier, Bruce Knivila scored eight from the field and eight from the free throw-line to lead Trout Creek to a 61-41 thumping of Perkins. To the delight of fans in attendance, Perkins' 5-4 center, Eddie Jacker, kept his team in the game until fouling out with 3:20 left in the third quarter. Following his exit, the Anglers went on a 27-11 run to ice the contest. Jacker finished with 11 points for Perkins.
1948 The Red Cedar flooded and shut off foot access to Jenison Fieldhouse on Michigan State's campus. That didn't stop the tournaments as fans were shuttled to the arena in the backs of trucks.
Jackson guard Vern Allen scored an incredible 15 points in the final quarter, and, combined with a stubborn Viking defense, led his team to a 54-37 win over Port Huron in Class A. The Vikings opened up a 25-14 halftime lead behind John Hargrove's 10 points, but an 11-3 run in the third quarter by the Big Red cut Jackson's lead to 28-25. Allen's 22 points in the contest capped a 64-point performance in the tourney's final three contests--extraordinary for the 1940s. It was Jackson's first title since 1929.
In Class B, St Joseph grabbed itsfourth MHSAA title before a crowd of 14,920 with a 36-27 win over surprise finalist Detroit St. Andrew. St. Andrew pulled to within a single point in the final frame, but could not overcome the taller St. Joseph squad. Jim Olney poured in 11 consecutive points in the second half to finish with 12. Chester Krawczak led St Andrew with nine points.
Milan snapped Saginaw Sts. Peter & Paul's 51-game winning streak with a spine-tingling 45-42 victory over the defending Class C champs. Francis Kruske's bucket cut Milan's lead to 43-42 with a minute remaining. However Milan's Carl Tachirhart answered with a long bucket with seconds remaining to seal the win and secure the school's first MHSAA title. Sherman Collins scored 14 points to lead the victors. Saginaw's Art McColgan ended his senior year with a game-high 20 points, and 548 for the year. Milan coach Fred Sukup watched the contest from a wheelchair. He suffered acute appendicitis earlier in the week and was taken to the championship game by ambulance from an Ann Arbor hospital.
Mass defeated Bridgman, 55-45, for the Class D crown. The Rockets grabbed a 27-24 halftime lead, then opened things up in the third quarter. Jim Antilla finished with 20 points to lead the Upper Peninsula squad to its 47th consecutive victory. Roy Luttinen scored 14 points for Bridgman. It was the first appearance of an Upper Peninsula squad in the Lower Peninsula finals since the spring of 1931. In 1932, the championships were broken into Upper and Lower Peninsula divisions as a cost-cutting measure during the Great Depression.
Hermansville blasted Rockland, 58-38, for its 17th straight victory and the MHSAA Class E crown at Bessemer. Pleasing the crowd, even in defeat, was the performance of the Black Hawks' Hilger brothers, Norm and Jim. The two combined for 36 of their team's 38 points. Leon Pieroponen led the Redskins with 20 points.
1938 Presenting the MHSAA title trophy to each of the winners at the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids was Dr. James A. Naismith, the originator of the game of basketball. It was a big year for Kalamazoo as the city took home two crowns from the Lower Peninsula tournaments.
In Class A, Kalamazoo Central slipped past Saginaw Arthur Hill in a thriller, 29-27. Kalamazoo Central opened a 27-19 lead in the fourth quarter before a sudden Lumberjack rally. Buck Antle and Ed Albosta, combined for a quick six points and Arthur Hill trailed by two with two minutes to play. With a minute remaining, Eddie Collier intercepted a backcourt pass, and the Saginaw guard knotted the score at 27. Many in attendance were expecting overtime as the Maroon Giants casually brought the ball upcourt, but a quick feed to Dallas Roe along the sideline set up his buzzer-beating shot to win it for Kalamazoo Central.
Grand Rapids Christian showcased its outstanding defense in a 25-12 victory over Flint St. Michael's in the Class B game. St. Michael's was held scoreless in the second quarter, as Christian opened up a 12-7 lead at the half. Gene Broene, a 6-2 forward, scored 12 points to lead the Christian squad. It was the first MHSAA crown for Christian in any sport. Flint suffered at the free-throw line, hitting only two of 11 in the contest.
Kalamazoo St. Augustine grabbed its fourth MHSAA crown since 1930 with a 27-23 win over Charlevoix in Class C. Chet Jurwiak (13 points) and Jim McGuire (11) each scored five field goals to lead the Irish. Jurwiak, who scored a game-winning basket from mid-court with six seconds remaining in the semifinal game to eliminate Dundee, sank a pair of buckets to ice the game for St. Augustine. Ken Carey led Charlevoix with 12 points.
In the opener, Brooklyn toppled Saginaw Lutheran Seminary, 24-14, for the Class D title. Trailing 10-4 in the second quarter, Saginaw Lutheran stormed back to a 12-11 lead toward the end of the third. But Bob Stahl, Brooklyn's sharp-shooting guard, scored all nine of his points in the final minutes of play to vault his team to victory. Teammate Don Harmon finished with 10 points.
In the Upper Peninsula games at Marquette, Ishpeming grabbed its fourth UP Class B title in seven years, with a 20-12 win over Lake Linden. Trailing 10-9 at the half, the Hematites buckled down on defense, allowing only a single free throw in each of the final frames. Nyman led the winners with 10 points, including six-for-six shooting from the free-throw line in the second half.
In Class C, Crystal Falls downed Laurium Sacred Heart, 32-22, for its first U.P. title. Guyan scored 17 points for the victors, many on the center's deadly left-handed hook shot.
Bergland rolled to a 41-23 triumph over Negaunee St. Paul for the U.P. Class D crown. St. Paul grabbed a 12-7 lead after one quarter before Bergland put its height advantage (seven players hovered around the six-foot mark) to use, securing a 16-14 lead at the half. Lackie, Bergland guard, scored 14 points, while Dean added 10 to lead the winners. Baldine and Jacobetti led St. Paul with 10 and eight points, respectively.
1928 In Class A, Detroit Northwestern downed Jackson, 14-10, at Olympia Stadium. Northwestern, which grabbed the Detroit city championship earlier in the year, opened an 8-5 lead at the half as DeForest Eveland hit a pair of baskets and a free throw for the Colts. The Colts' center added three free throws in the second half to finish with eight points while Francis Doolittle, who fouled out with four personals, ended the game with three points. Louis Jangow, who had a pair of outstanding games in the two previous rounds for Jackson, was held to two points before fouling out. Otto led the Vikings with four points.
Iron Mountain controlled nearly every jump ball and scored 12 third-quarter points to defeat Dearborn Fordson, 22-17, in Class B. Eugene Ronzani scored nine for the U.P. squad, while Theibert added six points. Fordson felt the loss of star guard Art Podlewski, who was injured in Friday's semifinal. T. Wolak led the team with four points.
Flint St. Michael jumped out to a 22-15 lead at the end of three quarters, then held off a strong Reed City rally to defeat the defending Class C champs, 26-25. Flint forward Don Hughes scored two field goals and four free throws in the third period, and finished with a game-high 11 points. Reed City nearly pulled off the win, but missed four consecutive free throws in the final frame. The Reed City squad survived the semifinal round the night before by defeating Plainwell, 25-23, in four overtimes.
Captain Bob Ackerman, Bridgeman's center, scored 20 points to lead his squad to victory, 32-18, over Pigeon in Class D. A surprise visitor to the finals, Pigeon defeated Gwinn, the 1927 runner-up, to make its appearance. Jack Paul, Pigeon's center, kept his team in the contest until early in the third quarter. The center scored all 11 of the teams points in the first half, then pulled the team to within a point in the third.
1918 Kalamazoo's Harold Vermeulen scored five baskets as the "Celery City" squad came from behind to defeat the Blue and White of Detroit Central, 26-23, on March 27 before a crowd of 2,500 at Waterman Gymnasium in Ann Arbor. One day later, due to the influenza pandemic and the nation's involvement in World War I, Michigan high school administrators voted to end prep competition for the remainder of the year. The teams had split a pair of contests earlier in the season. Detroit jumped to an early lead on four field goals by McElwee, but Kalamazoo rallied back, ending the first half with a 13-8 lead.