Marcellus, Mich. — Dylan Jergens tossed in a 20-footer, then made a pair of free throws after getting fouled while driving to the basket. He followed that with a lay-up off a baseline move to open a 7-4 lead before Marcellus Howardsville Christian’s game was two minutes old against New Buffalo Friday night.
Jergens, a 6-foot senior, was showing the skills that have put him in position to become the all-time leading scorer in Michigan high school boys basketball history. He also could become the first player to average 40 points per game since Richie Jordan of Fennville 54 years ago.
Jergens scored 15 in the opening quarter to give his team a 31-10 lead, then after struggling in the second quarter, scoring just three while New Buffalo pulled within 46-25 at halftime, he scored 19 third-quarter points to open a 78-42 cushion.
Jergens went on to finish with 45 points, eight assists and six steals, knocking down 16-of-24 shots from the field, 3-of-7 3-pointers and 10-of-12 free throws in the 92-43 win.
Jergens capped off his impressive regular season with 41 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and seven steals Saturday night in an 85-32 win over Lawrence to help Howardsville Christian improve to 19-1. It was his 10th straight game of scoring 40 or more points, averaging 43.7 points during that stretch.
And while Jergens is averaging 40.8 points for the season, he is far from a ball hog, consistently finding his teammates with great passes – some behind-the-back passes, others on long baseball-type tosses from 50-60 feet away.
Jergens gets as much satisfaction watching his pass lead to his younger brother – 5-6 sophomore Jason Jergens – knocking down a 3-pointer (Jason did that five times against New Buffalo), or having one lead to an inside basket by 6-6 senior Reece Herschbach.
Jergens and Division 4 Howardsville Christian begin their state tournament run Monday night with a 7 p.m. district game against Kalamazoo Lakeside (9-4) at Mendon.
Howardsville Christian, which is about 30 miles south of Kalamazoo, has a total enrollment of 32 students this year and Jergens is one of 10 students in the senior class.
“Last year we made a big run so going into our senior year we had a lot of senior guys on our team so we knew what we were capable of, and to see it come together is pretty exciting, so we’re excited for the tournament to see what we can do,” said Jergens.
Howardsville Christian finished 20-6 last year, losing to Hillsdale Academy in the Class D state quarterfinals.
“We were one game short of reaching Breslin so it’s definitely our goal this year,” said Jergens, who averaged 31 points last season, and has improved his average by nearly 10 points this season.
“It’s been a lot of hard work during the offseason, in the gym every day, getting off a lot of shots,” said Jergens, who will walk-on at Central Michigan next year. “I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates. They look for me. They trust me and believe in me, so just knowing that they believe in me to do my thing means a lot.”
Jergens ranks third all-time in state career scoring with 2,628 points (89 games) behind only Mark Brown of Hastings (2,789, 81 games, 34.4 average from 1982-85) and record-holder Jay Smith of Mio (2,841, 98 games, 29.0 average from 1976-79).
So Jergens has a chance to top Smith if Howardsville Christian can make it to Breslin for the state semifinals and finals.
Jergens’ 40.8 average is the highest since Todd Bayle of Walkerville averaged 39.5 points back in 1985-86. Jordan averaged 44.4 points while at Fennville in 1964-65.
“I’m going to just try to keep doing what I can here and try to win as many games as we can from here on out,” said Jergens. “First thing is to get the wins and do what my teammates need me to do. Just lately it seems like I’m putting the ball in the basket easy, so if it keeps going it keeps going. But I just want to win.”
While Jergens could be considered a candidate for the Michigan Mr. Basketball award, he was not among the finalists when they were announced last week – 6-6 forward Romeo Weems (DePaul) of New Haven, 5-11 guard B. Artis White (Western Michigan) of Canton, 6-6 guard/forward Chandler Turner (Bowling Green) of Detroit Renaissance and 6-0 guard Joe Moon IV of Westland John Glenn.
“I saw the list and was a little disappointed,” said Jergens of Mr. Basketball. “I’ll just try to use it as motivation. It doesn’t define who I am. I’m going to keep working and try to do what I can to get better.”
Basketball is a family affair for Jergens. In addition to being teammates with his brother Jason, he is coached by his father, Tim Jergens, and with Dylan’s older brother Justin is an assistant coach.
“It’s a lot of fun, really a dream to have my dad coaching me and my brother playing with me; it’s been a lot of fun this year,” Jergens said. “I’m just hoping we can make the most of it in tournament time.”
Michigan career scoring leaders
2,841 — Jay Smith, Mio (98 games), 1976-79
2,789 — Mark Brown, Hastings (81), 1982-85
2,628 — Dylan Jergens, Marcellus Howardsville Christian (89), 2016-19
2,522 — Christopher Hass, Pellston (91), 2009-12
2,518 — Tory Jackson, Saginaw Buena Vista (101), 1982-85
2,490 — Mark Macon, Saginaw Buena Vista (104), 1984-87
2,462 — Drew Neitzel, Wyoming Park (93), 2001-04
2,449 — Matt Stuck, Manton (99), 1989-92
2,448 — Marcus Taylor, Lansing Waverly (95), 1997-00
2,421 — Marcus Matelski, Boyne Falls (86), 2013-16