Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse earned their first district title since 2018 after tallying a 19-6 record in 2023.

Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse earned their first district title since 2018 after tallying a 19-6 record in 2023.

Photo provided by George Woods

L’Anse Creuse boys basketball here to stay after district title

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published March 30, 2023

 L’Anse Creuse senior Caron Williams lays it up against Port Huron at the “Court of Dreams” at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 4.

L’Anse Creuse senior Caron Williams lays it up against Port Huron at the “Court of Dreams” at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 4.

Photo provided by George Woods


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — It was the purest form of celebration as cheers from the crowd, and raw emotion from players filled the gym as the final buzzer sang during the 2022 district finals matchup between Chippewa Valley and Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse.

The only problem for L’Anse Creuse: There was no celebration awaiting them, as a 65-47 defeat left them thinking back on every play and potential miscue.

But that didn’t stop them from manifesting their next move for the 2023 season.

“The kids were disappointed and upset,” L’Anse Creuse coach George Woods said. “I had them sit on the bench and watch the Chippewa players get their district finals medals last year. Not to embarrass them, but I wanted them to put a chip on their shoulder and come back this year focused and ready to go at it again this year.”

Almost a year to the date, L’Anse Creuse (19-6) and Chippewa Valley would meet under the same circumstances — for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 district finals title.

This time, L’Anse Creuse was ready to rewrite history, and they did just that in a 59-56 win over Chippewa Valley at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore High School on March 10 to win their first district title since 2018.

L’Anse Creuse’s fans stormed the court as players and fans embraced and celebrated the win. It was a feeling the players knew they should’ve experienced last season.

“It felt great,” senior forward Chad Jacobs said. “We knew last year we could’ve won it, but we just didn’t come to play that game. We worked hard all season to get ready because we knew we would see Chippewa again.”

While every player soaked in the feeling of being district champions, including the same players who helped the football program earn a district title just months before, there was arguably nobody more hungry for the title than senior guard Caron Williams.

Just hours after their loss to Chippewa Valley last season, Williams was already enacting his first order as the soon-to-be senior leader.

“For that, I’m thankful these guys came over and worked hard this year because it meant everything to them, especially Caron,” Woods said. “Last year, at the end of that game, Caron texted me and said, ‘Coach, I’m sorry, but we need to get back to the gym.’ That was at 1:30 in the morning on a Saturday. He wasn’t done; he had something to prove, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. That really turned the tide in my opinion.”

A program-altering talent and Macomb Area Conference-Silver most valuable player last season, Williams embodied the confident mindset L’Anse Creuse collectively carried into this season with his work ethic.

Williams, a Grand Valley State University basketball commit, led Macomb County in scoring last season with 25.2 points per game.

A former MLive Metro Detroit Dream Team honorable mention, Williams took an unusual approach to his game this season courtesy of coach Woods’ advice.

Williams, the primary ball handler, was still an offensive threat, averaging over 18 points per game this season. But he elevated his game in one particular category that paid dividends to the offense.

“We looked to him a lot the last three years, but this year I asked him to do something different,” Woods said. “I asked him to take away his offensive ability and focus more on winning as a team because we rode him a lot.”

Jacobs, who finished second in scoring behind Williams this year, was a key front court piece for L’Anse Creuse this season.

While Williams drew a significant amount of the defensive attention, Woods said Jacobs’ offensive talent was deserving of that same respect given to Williams.

“Chad Jacobs was really the hard-nosed catalyst of our team, but people don’t focus on Chad (Jacobs) because they’re too busy focusing on Caron (Williams),” Woods said.

While Williams and Jacobs led the scoring, there was no bigger surprise on the offensive end than freshman Julius Wilson.

Wilson, who finished third on the team in scoring, created a dynamic backcourt alongside Williams, and will look to be a cornerstone for L’Anse Creuse basketball for the next few years.

Already joining a team motivated for a run and making the transition as a freshman, Wilson said the team’s mindset resonated with what he was trying to bring to the table.

“I feel like I clicked right along because I always knew with the people we had since day one that they were serious about winning, and I was serious about winning,” Wilson said.

L’Anse Creuse showed just how serious they were, starting the season 6-0 with a handful of marquee victories to add to their resume.

Edging the MAC-Red’s Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, a big-time school rival, and St. Clair to open the season 2-0, L’Anse Creuse senior guard Donovan Weatherly said there was one game that boosted the team’s confidence the most.

“That gave us a really high boost of confidence, especially that U-Prep (University Prep) game,” Weatherly said. “We knew they were a really good team. They were ranked higher than us, and it was just a big win that we really hadn’t had in the past few years.”

While a significant step forward this season, L’Anse Creuse’s season would end in a 76-36 loss to defending MHSAA Division 1 state champion De La Salle in the regional semifinals.

Although L’Anse Creuse is slated to only lose three seniors, the departure of Williams, Weatherly and Jacobs is a tough pill to swallow.

On a positive note, their impact as senior leaders this year did not go unnoticed and will hopefully carry over to L’Anse Creuse’s 2024 campaign.

“They had a huge impact,” L’Anse Creuse junior Quincy Dorsey said. “They’re probably two (Williams and Jacobs) of our leading scorers and one (Weatherly) was our toughest defensive player; they all had a super big impact. They showed me next year that I’m going to need to step up harder in my role to fill their shoes.”