JENISON – Allyssa DeHaan-Clark remains one of the greatest shot blockers in national high school and college basketball history.
Recently, the former Grandville High School and Michigan State University standout became a mother for the first time.
DeHaan-Clark, and her husband Aaron, adopted a baby girl last September.
Bradley Noelle Clark was born on Sept. 29, 2021, at 36 weeks.
When the Clarks found out about the impending delivery, they drove straight to the hospital from their vacation in Tennessee to meet her. They took her home a few days later.
“Parenthood is awesome, hard, wonderful and beautiful,” DeHaan-Clark said. “She’s 9½ months old, and she just lost her first tooth and is starting to crawl. She says, ‘Da, Da’ a lot, even though I’m with her most of the time during the day.”
DeHaan-Clark, who turned 34 last month, married in 2012. She and her husband had aspirations to raise a family.
Unfortunately, the road to parenthood was more difficult than they envisioned.
“We tried to get pregnant for six years,” DeHaan-Clark said. “We went through a lot of testing and different fertility procedures, but nothing took. We never had one positive pregnancy test.”
Although disappointed and frustrated, the Clarks pursued another avenue.
“Adoption was always in the back of our mind, and it came to a point where I didn’t know what to do,” DeHaan-Clark said. “One night we prayed to God for clarity and wisdom and just some direction. He answered that prayer the next morning with a text message, and that put us on a fast track to adoption.”
The Clarks went through the application process last June. Four months later, Bradley was born. She officially became a Clark in May.
“It was awesome for God to answer that prayer so quickly,” DeHaan-Clark said. “After six years of struggle, she was meant to be in our family. We love her so much and adore her to pieces.
“She’s loved by so many, and we are very thankful that the birth family chose us. After all that pain and suffering, God made something beautiful through that.”
DeHaan-Clark was a four-year towering presence at Grandville. As a junior in 2004, she set the MHSAA record for blocks in a single season with 236 and averaged nearly a triple-double (27 points, 13 rebounds and 9.5 blocks per game).
As a senior, she helped lead the Bulldogs to a 25-2 record and their first Class A Semifinal appearance. She was named the 2005 Miss Basketball Award winner by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan.
DeHaan-Clark grew six inches during middle school and entered her high school freshman year at 6-foot-6. She was 6-9 as a senior before taking her talents to East Lansing.
“Middle school was tough for everyone, but it was extremely tough for me,” DeHaan-Clark said. “I was entering a new school system, and I had just started playing basketball a year or two before that and had a huge growth spurt. Learning how to be coordinated and play the game took a while.”
DeHaan-Clark was a part of three consecutive Ottawa-Kent Conference Red championship teams. The Bulldogs won District and Regional titles in 2005 before defeating previously-unbeaten Benton Harbor in a Class A Quarterfinal. Grandville’s run ended with an overtime loss to Southfield-Lathrup in the Semifinal at Breslin Center.
“My senior year was the best,” DeHaan-Clark said. “It was so much fun with the championships and all the wins. Playing with the same girls for four years and then finally having a successful team was amazing.”
DeHaan-Clark made the MHSAA’s single-season scoring list as a senior with 710 points, having averaged 26.3 per game that fall. She also finished with 718 career blocks, setting an MHSAA record later broken by Kalamazoo Central’s Asia Robeson (723) in 2014. Still, DeHaan-Clark remains seventh all-time nationally for career blocks, with Robeson sixth on the list.
DeHaan-Clark arrived at Michigan State with high aspirations.
“I had big goals of playing in the Olympics and playing professionally, but obviously those didn’t come to fruition,” she said. “I learned to dream big, so I set big goals from the beginning.”
DeHaan-Clark emerged as a dominating shot blocker for the Spartans, and was Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2006-07 as she set the conference record with 145 blocks.
As a sophomore she re-established the Big Ten record for single-season blocks with 150. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2009-10.
She ended her career as Michigan State’s all-time blocks leader with 503 – with that total also second in Division I history at that time and now third on the NCAA DI list – to go with career averages of 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
“It was a big transition from high school to college, but I wanted to be a contributor,” DeHaan-Clark said. “I had amazing coaches and teammates, and my freshman year turned out better than I thought it would.
“My big goal was to be a key defensive player and break as many records as I could with blocked shots because of my height.”
In 2009, DeHaan-Clark was the catalyst in Michigan State’s run to the Sweet 16. The Spartans upset top-ranked Duke in the second round before losing to Iowa State, 69-68.
But DeHaan-Clark suffered a back injury during the Big Ten Tournament that winter which ultimately ended her hopes of playing beyond college.
“I never recovered from that, so I didn’t enter the WNBA draft,” DeHaan-Clark said. “I ended up having back surgery and finished my remaining classes before graduating.”
DeHaan-Clark returned home and worked in the medical field while also helping lead a sports ministry program at Grand Valley State University.
She received an intriguing opportunity to continue playing college sports as part of the Lakers volleyball program.
“I needed to take more graduate classes, and I had one more season of college eligibility other than basketball,” she said. “My skill level wasn’t to the level of basketball, but it was still really fun to play and compete and be a part of a team because those are things I still love doing today.”
DeHaan-Clark changed her focus from medicine to continuing her work in sports ministry, as well as for a non-profit organization.
She also got her real estate license in 2015, and she and her husband began flipping houses on the side.
“It brings me a lot of joy to cast a vision of what a home could look like after a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” she said. “I love that kind of work.”
The projects allowed the Clarks to spend meaningful time together.
“It was a lot of nights and weekends, and we just had to learn things as we went,” DeHaan-Clark said. “The one thing we learned is we cannot do drywall. It’s not our skill set, so in order to save our marriage and our relationship we would hire it out.
“We did a lot of it ourselves, and we like seeing the transformation from old to new. It’s really fun, and hopefully we can do it again.”
The Clarks currently reside in Jenison and have been embraced by their community and friends. They live on a lake, enjoying water sports in their free time. Allyssa was inducted into the Grandville High School Athletic Hall of Fame in March.
As for the future, DeHaan-Clark said nothing is set in stone.
“We take it one day at a time,” she said. “I still have my real estate license, so we’re hoping to renovate and invest. I’m sure in the future there will be more kids added to the Clark clan, but right now we’re very happy and content with just one.”
2021-22 Made in Michigan
July 21: Championship Memories Still Resonate with St. Thomas Star Lillard - Read
July 14: Portage Central Champ Rolls to Vanderbilt, Writing Next Chapter in Alabama - Read
July 12: Coaching Couple Passing On Knowledge, Providing Opportunities for Frankfort Wrestlers - Read
June 30: Hrynewich's Star Continuing to Rise with Olympic, Pro Sports Arrivals - Read
PHOTOS (Top) At left, Allyssa DeHaan puts up a shot during Grandville’s 2005 Class A Semifinal against Southfield-Lathrup. At right, the Clark family including Allyssa, husband Aaron Clark and daughter Bradley. (Middle) DeHaan looks for an open teammate while playing her high school finale at her future college home, the Breslin Center. (Below) The Clarks enjoy a moment together. (Basketball photos from MHSAA archives; Clark photos courtesy of Allyssa DeHaan-Clark.)
We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA girls basketball season. And while the schedule is full of an increasing number of must-see games across the state, all of them fit into some serious crunching of numbers going on behind the scenes at our East Lansing office.
Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. We’re sitting at 694 member girls varsity teams this winter, and we’ve nearly completed a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 23-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.
Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – for just scores alone, we’ve been able to collect more than 98 percent from an estimated 4,500 games that have been played so far this winter. We’ll be working to track down the rest before District pairings are announced Jan. 19. And then we’ll finish the same process for boys schedules and results.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 33, Farmington Hills Mercy 26 The Irish (12-3) broke reigning Detroit Catholic League Central champion Mercy’s 12-game league winning streak, handing Mercy its first defeat of the season and also avenging a 46-33 loss to the Marlins (13-1) only three weeks earlier.
2. Saline 41, Temperance Bedford 22 The Hornets (13-2) not only became the last undefeated team in Southeastern Conference Red play, but earned it by handing Bedford (13-1) its first defeat overall.
3. Traverse City St. Francis 54, Harbor Springs 31 The Gladiators (11-1) avenged their lone loss and in the process joined Elk Rapids in a tie atop the Lake Michigan Conference standings, with Harbor Springs (12-2) half a game back.
4. Byron Center 48, East Grand Rapids 35 The Ottawa-Kent Conference White is one of the top leagues in the state, and Byron Center (12-3) sits atop the standings after defeating third-place EGR (11-4) and then fourth-place Lowell during a big week.
5. Detroit Renaissance 50, Detroit Cass Tech 46 The undefeated Phoenix (14-0) moved into first place alone in the Detroit Public School League Blue, with one more league game to play, as Cass (6-6) fell a game back.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Byron Center (12-3) As noted above, Byron Center had a massive week heading into Tuesday’s rematch with O-K White second-place Grand Rapids Christian. The Bulldogs won the first meeting with the Eagles 54-34 on Dec. 15, hence their one-game lead atop the league standings. That victory also started a 10-game winning streak after Byron Center took early losses from O-K Red contenders East Kentwood, Rockford and Hudsonville. Total, the Bulldogs have won 41 straight league games in the O-K White and before that Green, going back five seasons.
Grosse Pointe North (12-2) The Norsemen can clinch a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red championship against Port Huron on Tuesday, which would run their league title streak to three seasons. North’s only losses this winter were to still-undefeated Lake Fenton and Red second-place Utica Eisenhower, the latter by a point in their second meeting Jan. 19. Seven of GPN’s 12 wins have come against teams that would be .500 or better if not for losing (once, or twice) to North.
Grand Rapids West Catholic (14-0) The reigning Division 2 runner-up has won 35 of its last 36 games and avenged last season’s lone regular-season loss, defeating Rockford this time 61-54 to win the Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament Gold championship. West Catholic’s 71-32 win over former league co-leader Hamilton last week put the Falcons in first alone in the O-K Blue, and only Division 1 contenders Hudsonville and East Grand Rapids have joined Rockford in coming within single digits of catching them.
Wixom St. Catherine (12-1) The Stars have clinched a share of the Catholic League AA championship, after sharing it with Royal Oak Shrine Catholic last season. St. Catherine defeated Shrine 54-35 on Jan. 13 and will face the Knights again Friday to close the league schedule. The only loss this winter came to Detroit Country Day on Dec. 6, and only 11-win Flint Powers Catholic has come within single digits since that lone defeat.
Hancock (11-1) In a loaded Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, Hancock could emerge as the best starting tonight with the second of two meetings against Calumet (10-2), and with two against Houghton (12-1) coming up as well. The 45-39 win over Calumet on Dec. 13 was among Hancock’s best victories, and the lone loss came Jan. 13 to still-undefeated Escanaba, 50-49. The Bulldogs tied for second in the West-PAC West last season before losing their District opener to Ishpeming, but they’ve defeated Ishpeming 42-27 this winter and face the Hematites again Wednesday.
Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) Coming off avenging that lone loss to Harbor Springs (see above), St. Francis would seem to have the upper hand in the Lake Michigan Conference even with Elk Rapids also having just one league loss – they meet again Feb. 9, and St. Francis won the first matchup 43-26 on Jan. 13. The Gladiators are seeking their first league title since 2017-18 and annually are in the hunt; they’ve also had their last three seasons ended with playoff losses to Maple City Glen Lake, which they see Wednesday for the first time this winter.
Cedarville/DeTour (11-2) The Islanders lead the Eastern Upper Peninsula Athletic Conference and haven’t lost for more than a month, their defeats coming to still-unbeaten Mackinaw City and then Oscoda three days later in early December. It’s an impressive turnaround from last season’s 8-12 finish, and has included six victories against teams .500 or better and five against opponents with at least eight wins. A Feb. 14 home game against St. Ignace will provide another big opportunity.
Indian River Inland Lakes (10-4) An 0-2 start to this season is becoming a memory, especially after Inland Lakes avenged the second of those defeats – by 17 to Johannesburg-Lewiston – with a 55-51 win last week. The only other losses came to Mackinaw City at the Comets’ Christmas Tournament, and to Ski Valley Conference leader Gaylord St. Mary two weeks ago. The Bulldogs rebounded from their tough start in December with wins over Bellaire and Cheboygan that avenged 2021-22 losses.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – DeWitt (12-1) at Holt (12-2) – The co-leaders in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue face off for the first of two meetings this season after the teams split a year ago.
Wednesday – Maple City Glen Lake (11-2) at Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) – In addition to those three playoff wins over St. Francis the last three seasons, Glen Lake is looking to extend a five-game regular-season winning streak against the Gladiators.
Thursday – Buchanan (12-1) at Niles Brandywine (10-1) – Buchanan is atop the Lakeland Conference standings and Brandywine is second because of the Bucks’ 49-45 overtime win when they met the first time Dec. 15.
Friday – Detroit Edison (10-2) at Farmington Hills Mercy (13-1) – Edison’s only defeats this season were to Illinois teams in early December, and only West Bloomfield last winter has handed the Pioneers an in-state loss over the last five seasons.
Friday – Escanaba (13-0) at Houghton (12-1) – The Eskymos will take their perfect record to the Keweenaw Peninsula in what could possibly be a preview of a Division 2 District Final as well.
MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) Marquette's Siena Lingle (21) attempts to block a shot by Calumet's Laina Kariniemi (14) during the Copper Kings' 50-44 win Jan. 23. (Middle) Haslett's Maddie Fant (5) and Abigail Brooks (24) defend during the Vikings' 52-32 win over Brighton on Saturday. (Top photo by Cara Kamps. Middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)