The Successful History of Hamilton Basketball

By Sebastian Timm

The Hamilton Hawkeyes boys basketball program have been to some sort of tournament since 1961. The Hawkeyes have an all-time tournament record of 46-52. The Hawks started off slow, but finally found some success in the tournament in 1967 when they beat Plainwell 82-60 and then Allegan 57-55 to claim their first district champion. They went on to play South Haven in the regional match, but fell 77-48.

After many seasons of improvement the Hawkeyes were ready to show something more than a District Champion or District Championship game appearance. The Hawks were in a district final game thirteen times from 1961-1983, but they only won five of those games. In 1984 the Hawks were able to show the competition what type of team they have, and what they can do with a great team. The team was lead  by head coach Wayne Tanis

In 1984 the Hawkeyes seemed to be unstoppable. They marched their way through the tournament, beating everyone that tried to stand in their way. The Hawkeyes had to beat teams that weren’t even close to West Michigan, as they had to play the Detroit DePorres. The game was played at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor. The Hawkeyes weren’t even suppose to make it this far in the tournament, as they were overlooked by many teams, but they made those teams pay the price. The Hawkeyes ended up playing the defending champions Kalamazoo Christian to try to claim their first state champion in school history. The Hawkeyes ended up beating Kalamazoo 52-48 to claim the state champion. Kalamazoo Christian was coached by former Hamilton Hawkeye graduate David Wassink.

Wayne Tanis brought the Hawkeyes to a district champion the next season in 1985, in which they beat Byron Center 50-41 to claim the district champ. Wayne also brought the Hawkeyes right back to yet another district/regional champ in 1987. They beat Byron Center once again for the district champ, and they squeaked out a win against Grandville Calvin Christian 58-56 for the regional champion. The Hawkeyes had three very good players – center Kevin Haverdink, forward Bill Vanderbilt and guard Tim Sneller. The other two starters for the Hawkeyes were guard Ted Custer and forward Kurt Berens. To know how dominate Bill Vanderbilt was we got this quote from Coach Tanis “Bill Vanderbilt was doing something 25 years ago that LeBron James and some others are doing today as a point forward.”

After the 1987 district champion though the Hawkeyes were never able to keep up their dominate pace. The Hawkeyes are yet to add to their District/Regional/State champions. As of right now they have eight district champions, two regional champs, and the one and only state champion that came in 1984.

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