The small town team thrived despite religious beliefs against sport


EAST LANSING, MI – With an enrollment of 99 students, Dollar Bay is one of the smaller schools in the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

This makes it difficult to line up sports teams.

But unlike other Division 4 schools, the Blue Bolts have another hurdle to overcome when it comes to getting student-athletes into the competitive arena.

“Half of our students can’t play for religious reasons,” boys basketball coach Jesse Kentala said Thursday after Dollar Bay’s 55-28 loss to defending State Champion Southfield Christian in Division 4 semi-final at the Breslin Center.

“It’s a Lutheran faith and they don’t believe in organized sports. Great kids, great families. They just don’t play. You choose from 50 kids, boys and girls. Do the math.”

Kentala wasn’t complaining. He was just pointing out how much of a feat it was for his team – which are located as far north as possible on the Upper Peninsula – to reach the semi-finals for the second time in as many years.

Unfortunately for the Blue Bolts, they ran into a D4 powerhouse every time.

Southfield Christian has won four state titles in the past seven years and will play for a fifth Saturday afternoon at the Breslin.

“I heard someone make it up the Southfield Invitational,” Kentala joked in reference to the Division 4 tournament. “Southfield Christian, it’s not a complaint, they are able to reload. They had NBA talent. last year, they have Division 1 commitments this year.

“It’s not apples for apples. I’ll just tell you right now. It’s not. But to be the best, beat the best. We are excited about the challenge of playing Southfield Christian. We would play them again if we had to.

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