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BOYS BASKETBALL; Kraatz more than just a name in Allen Park, but also a tradition of excellence

   | Scott Burnstein

BOYS BASKETBALL; Kraatz more than just a name in Allen Park, but also a tradition of excellence

ALLEN PARK – The rich and storied Kraatz family legacy at Allen Park Inter-City Baptist is growing larger every day.

It started with Mark Kraatz, Inter-City’s athletic director and head boys basketball and soccer coach, over 30 years ago.

Kraatz is the school’s all-time best athlete, putting the tiny Inter-City athletic department on the map back in the mid-1980s, leading the Chargers to Class D state titles in basketball and soccer.

His coaching ability has proven outstanding, too.                                      

As a player he won two state titles in soccer and one on the hardwood. As a coach, he’s raised four state championship banners on the soccer field and helms a hoops program that is a perennial powerhouse.

Thanks, almost primarily to Kraatz’s tireless efforts and determination, today Inter-City is one of the top small-school athletic programs in all of the MHSAA.

“I’ve coached a lot of hard-nosed kids, they’ve been the core of what we’ve been able to build here in a place where there’s only 100 kids in the whole high school,” he said. “My success is really a tribute to them.”

The tradition of Kraatz family excellence is continuing with his two sons, Evan, a junior, and Garrett, a freshman.

Like their father, they are two-sport standouts for the Chargers, starring on the basketball court and the soccer pitch, with Evan being an all-state pick in both.

“I always looked forward to the day that I would get to coach my sons and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience for me,” Mark said. 

Led by the Kraatz contingent, the Inter-City hoop squad is considerably formidable again this year. The Chargers have jumped out of the gate to a 10-2 overall record and currently check in as the No. 3 team in the state in the most recent rankings.

Evan is a virtual clone of his dad on the floor and the pitch – a heady, tough-as-nails point guard that can equally hurt opponents scoring and distributing the rock in basketball and a game-control, set-up specialist at center-mid in soccer. Last year as a sophomore, Kraatz guided the Chargers to a state crown on the soccer field and took Inter-City into the quarterfinals for the first time on the basketball floor in 18 years.

“He (Evan) makes everyone around him better, that’s his best attribute in both sports,” his father said.

When the elder Kraatz was in high school, he lifted Inter-City to epic heights.

With him anchoring the Chargers as a first-team all-state selection at the floor general spot, Inter-City made a memorable run to the 1985 Class D state championship, bouncing previous-year state-finalist Detroit East Catholic and a Troy Zion Christian team spearheaded by future NBA Draft pick, Marcus Kennedy (Eastern Michigan) in the regionals and edging Maple City Glen Lake in a down-to-the-wire overtime classic in the final four.

The 679 career assists he registered is third-most all-time in MHSAA history. During his junior season in 1984, he posted 23 in a single game. At the conclusion of the 1980s, the Detroit Free Press named Kraatz to its All-Decade team.

In college, Kraatz first played Division I ball at Illinois State, before transferring to Heritage Christian in San Diego. While out in California, he reunited with his prep teammates, Brad and Bill Soucie and his high school head coach Ray Slagle and captured a NCCAA national title in 1990.