Boys Basketball, Highlights

Hoops on Film: 1961 Class D Boys Final

July 27, 2015

By John Johnson
MHSAA communications director

A battle of undefeated teams from schools both no longer in existence is highlighted this week as part of’s Hoops On Film Series.

From the late 1940’s to the mid 1970’s the Michigan High School Athletic Association shot portions of the action at its boys and girls basketball finals on 16mm film. The films were loaned out, primarily to the participating schools, to help them relive the moments of playing in a championship game.

While many of the old films have wandered astray over time, about 60 games still exist in the MHSAA archives. Anyone in possession of such a film is encouraged to contact John Johnson at the MHSAA Office ( to discuss having the film converted to a digital format.

Some of the films only have portions of the second half and the post-game awards; some have most of the action. None of the films have sound. They range in length from 10 minutes to about an hour. A new film will be posted online each Monday through the week of August 17. DVD’s may be purchased directly from the Website – just click the Get DVD button below the player. 

Here’s a look at this week’s game, with recap courtesy of MHSAA historian Ron Pesch:

Marquette Pierce 68, Freesoil 61 – 1961 Class D Boys Final - After 35 years as a coach in the Upper Peninsula, Vic Hurst was rewarded with his first MHSAA title as Marquette Pierce downed a determined Freesoil squad, 68-61, in a Class D battle of the undefeated. Dave Benson led the Warriors with 17 points, while teammates Dennis DeMerse and the Laurich brothers – Conrad and Larry – each added 15. The matchup came after each school's first Regional crown and ended up the only time either school would ever reach the Finals. Pierce would close after the 1961 season, and its only other Regional appearances came back-to-back in 1955 and 1956. Freesoil would win four more Regional titles during its history – three consecutive form 1966-68. The high school closed after the 2006-07 school year and was absorbed into the Mason County Eastern school district.

Previous releases:
1958 Class A Boys Final: Detroit Austin 71, Benton Harbor 68 - Watch
1976 Class D Girls Final: Lake City 58, Perkins 48 - Watch
1971 Class A Boys Final: Flint Northern 79, Detroit Kettering 78 - Watch
1954 Class A Boys Final: Muskegon Heights 43, Flint Northern 41 (OT) - Watch
1973 Class C Boys Final: Detroit East Catholic 50, Saginaw St. Stephen 49 - Watch