Gerald Whitens was on Powers North Central’s team when the Jets won their first Class D state title in 1984. But Saturday, he felt even prouder.
That’s because he saw the Jets win their second title as his sophomore son, Jason, scored a game-high 19 points.
“He’s far exceeded anything I’ve done on the court, and this is very special to me as a father,” Gerald said. “I told him go out there and smile, have fun, it’s just a gym, and it’s still a 10-foot basket, and just be who he is.”
“I love him,” Jason said. “I’m thankful for him, and this is a moment I’ll remember forever with him.”
Over the years, dad has shown his son videos of not just the state finals, but also of Magic Johnson, the player he hopes his son would emulate.
Powers North Central head coach Adam Mercier hands the championship trophy to his players after their 67-47 win over Morenci in the MHSAA boys basketball Class D finals March 28, 2015 in East Lansing.
Gerald had several other ties to the team: Caleb Martin is his cousin, Rob Granquist Jr. is his nephew, and Ryan Whitens is his cousin. He has coached several others in AAU ball.
“I’ve had an opportunity to share this with the kids, and it’s allowed me to give some insight on what the dream can be,” Gerald said. “And it’s not hard to tell people if you put the work in what the end result can be.”
■ Two losses: Eric Davis’ prep career concluded with a 62-59 defeat in the Class A state final. And he suffered a loss in college as well.
Davis has committed to Texas, which fired coach Rick Barnes on Saturday after 17 seasons at the school.
Davis, the Saginaw Arthur Hill shooting guard, finished Saturday’s game with 15 points and six rebounds on 6-for-15 shooting. He played the entire game until fouling out with less than 2 minutes left.
Before news of Barnes’ firing broke Saturday, Davis said he had talked to the coach Friday night. “Coach Barnes is staying there next year, talked to him Friday,” Davis said. “He’s staying there, just rumors floating around. I’m still committed to the University of Texas.”
■ Hot shots: The lights were on at the Breslin Center, but Powers North Central came close to shooting them out. The Jets hit 59.6% of their field-goal attempts — the best rate for a Class D champ dating to at least the late 1980s. By comparison, last year’s champion, Southfield Christian, shot 36.4%.
North Central was even better in the first half, firing at a 70.4% clip and opening up a 45-26 lead on Morenci.
“When your game plan is do your best to not let them drive past you to the basket, make them shoot from the outside and seeing three after three going in, it’s kind of deflating,” Morenci coach Jim Bauer said.
■ The Powers up north: This winter, “U.P. Power” was more than a Breslin Center chant. The small schools Up North made their presence known, with five of the top-10 Class D schools above the Mackinac Bridge.
“We don’t pay too much attention to polls, but typically you don’t see U.P. teams go one and two all season long,” said Fulton coach Todd Walden, whose team lost to North Central in the semifinals. “Cedarville and ourselves were 1-2 most of the year, Munising was in the top five.”