In the early 1950s, Copemish featured not only one of the best boys basketball teams in northern Michigan but the entire state.
In 1952, the Cyclones made a run to the state championship where they eventually lost to Fowler.
“We were the first team out of Manistee County that made it to the state finals in 19 years, so that was quite an honor, too. And that was all classes when they compared that,” former player Ben Blaho said.
They also featured a deep, talented roster that could score the ball.
“Mickey Finan was our scorer. He was a kid that could shoot from any place on the floor if we got him, got the ball to him and gave him a screen for about two seconds to get a shot. We were guaranteed two points,” Blaho said. “The rest of the team was good, also.”
After making a run to the state finals in 1952, the Cyclones continued to score the rock. The next season, they set the state record for points in a game in their 140-24 win over Bear Lake, where Finan led the team with 56 points.
“I don’t know why they irritated us. For something that they had said or done along the way, and we said, ‘Let’s show them.’ And no matter how Coach Fish juggled the substitutions, he tried to keep the score down,” Blaho said. “But every one of us, in our minds, were geared up. So it was, you know, just get the ball and whoosh. And so it was a good day.”
Copemish never made it back to the state finals after 1952. They merged with Benzie Central in 1963 and on Friday night, the Huskies honored that 1952 team.
“This team achieved four years of district championship. We had one year that we had the regional winner, quarterfinals and state runners-up. That was in ’52,” Blaho said. “And there were some stories in some of the papers at that time that this was probably the best team that ever came out of Manistee County.”
Blaho had many stories to tell about the team’s time traveling during the state championship run, the reaction of the town during their success and what it was like to grow up with that team. MiSportsNow has included his full interview below.
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