- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Seeing yourself passed in the record books can sometimes be bittersweet, knowing you’re moving down a list that has been molded by years and years of great player performances by some of the best talent to grace the basketball court.

The sweet part for Allen Park Inter-City Baptist coach Mark Kraatz this season was seeing his son, Evan, pass him on the state’s all-time career assist list. In fact, Evan, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, passed by his father; former Wyoming Park and Michigan State standout Drew Neitzel; and Eric Turner (Flint Central/Michigan) to become the state’s all-time best ball distributor. He finished his career with 803 assists.

“When you coach a player who breaks a record, it’s special,” Mark Kraatz said. “When that player happens to be your son and it happens to be a (number) you held, it really brought me to tears. I’m just so grateful to have been a part of that - to have witnessed it.”

This season, Evan Kraatz averaged 17.3 points, 9.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 steals, leading the Chargers to an 18-7 record and a trip to the regional final. Kraatz was named the Associated Press Class D Player of the Year.

Inter-City Baptist fell 67-62 to two-time defending state champion Southfield Christian in that regional final. The Eagles have two players on this year’s Class D All-State first team, seniors Demarco White and Lindsey Hunter IV. White averaged 9.2 points and 8.4 rebounds, while Hunter - a four-year starter - averaged 14.3 points and 1.7 steals per game.

Also earning first-team honors in Class D are Brandon Childress of Baldwin, Joey Duncan of Cedarville, Kevin Gamble of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, Nick Hincka of Posen, David Loney of Frankfort, Marcus Matelski of Boyne Falls, Travis Vincent of Powers North Central and Mike Warren of Fruitport Calvary Christian.

Childress averaged 24.0 points and 8.9 rebounds this season; Duncan averaged 21.0 points and 3.0 steals; Gamble led Sacred Heart with 15 points and 9 rebounds; Hincka averaged 24 points and 7.5 rebounds; Loney averaged 20.2 points and 11 rebounds; Matelski scored 26.5 points and pulled down 9.5 rebounds; Vincent averaged 16.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals; and Warren collected 26.5 points and 11.5 rebounds.

Pat Theisen of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart earned Class D Coach of the Year honors after leading his team to a 21-3 record and a spot in the quarterfinals.

Kraatz’s record-breaking career recently landed him in Sports Illustrated, which honored him with a blurb in its “Faces in the Crowd” section. The write-up mentions that Mark Kraatz was a “Faces in the Crowd” honoree when he was a junior with the Chargers in the 1980s.

The younger Kraatz also is an integral part of Inter-City Baptist’s soccer and baseball teams. He was part of the Chargers’ state title-winning soccer team during his sophomore season, and this spring’s baseball team is expected to be a contender for a state championship.

Kraatz has received interest from a number of Division II basketball programs. Though he’s got prototypical size for soccer and even baseball, his passion is on the hard court.

“I’ve always said that when he came down the assembly line, God gave him an extra abundance of abilities,” Mark Kraatz said. “I’ve coached for 24 years, and in all that time, there has been just two players who I feel have wanted to compete, wanted to win as much as I have. And Evan is one of them.”

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