2012 Girls Basketball Finals in Review

April 3, 2012

Mathematically speaking, the 2010 MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals were just a bit closer than this season’s, with a combined point differential of 28 over the four championship games.

But it's a decent argument to call this winter’s Finals the most highly-contested set, as a whole, since the late 1990s.

In three of the four championship games, the eventual winner didn’t take its last lead until the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Two Finals came down to the final two minutes. Class A was decided by a fastbreak lay-up with six seconds to play.

Combine those with a pair of three-point Class A Semifinals and appearances by the reigning champions in all four classes, and it made for a highlight-filled weekend at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.

Here’s our wrap-up of some of the most memorable moments:

Four quarters

Much to overcome: First Grand Haven had to get past reigning Class A champion Inkster in a Semifinal, and did so 43-40. Then the Buccaneers were told in the locker room that a group of their classmates had been involved in a crash on the way to the game and hospitalized. Then Grand Haven found itself down 18 points in the Class A Final – and completed the third-largest comeback in MHSAA Girls Finals history in downing Grosse Pointe South 54-53 to win the Bucs’ first championship. Senior guard Shar’Rae Davis might’ve had the play of the weekend, a baseline to baseline drive and lay-in for the deciding points with six seconds remaining. (Read the full report.)

It’s our turn: Goodrich is a team many in the girls basketball community saw coming for a while. After being stopped by a number of state powerhouses over the years, the Martians solidified their status among them by advancing to their first MHSAA Final and beating Grand Rapids Catholic Central 60-53 in Class B. Goodrich trailed by five with 5:32 to play, but finished on a 9-2 run and ended the season a flawless 28-0. It was the Cougars' their third championship game appearance in four seasons. (Read the full report.)

Champions again: Morley-Stanwood’s Class C title was its first in girls basketball, but second for the school’s girls teams this school year after the Mohawks also won the Class C volleyball title. Two stars from that latter team came up big in these Finals as well – Bailey Cairnduff scored 28 points as Morley-Stanwood beat reigning champion St. Ignace 60-50 in the Semifinal, and Alexis Huntey had 27 points and 16 rebounds in the 61-57 championship game win over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett. The Mohawks had to outlast the Knights and Miss Basketball winner Madison Ristovski, whose 42 points were the second-most in MHSAA girls championship game history. (Read the full report.)

No D-nying Lakers: Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes won its third-straight Class D championship with a 53-47 win over Athens on the strength of five players scoring between seven and 13 points. Senior Ava Doetsch and juniors Lexie Robak and Jessica Parry were members of all three championship teams. Athens, meanwhile, made its first title game appearance. (Read the full report.)

Numbers game

16,897: Total attendance for the 12 Semifinals and Finals, combined. Keyed in part by a giant Grand Haven student section, the biggest crowd attended the Class D and A Finals session Saturday morning – although Class B drew the most fans among the Semifinal sessions.

56: Percent of its shots from the floor made by Waterford Our Lady in the Class D Final. The Lakers’ five starters took all but one of the team’s 34 shots, and all five hit at least 50 percent of their attempts from the field – including 6 of 12 from 3-point range.

18: The number of points by which Grand Haven trailed Grosse Pointe South with 1:51 to play in the third quarter of the Class A Final. Only Farmington Our Lady of Mercy in 1982 (19 points) and Detroit Cass Tech in 1987 (20) made bigger championship game comebacks in winning titles.

42: Total points scored in the Class C Final by University Liggett’s Ristovski, on 15 for 29 shooting from the floor including 4 for 8 from 3-point range. Only Peggy Evans for Detroit Country Day in 1989, with 47 points, scored more in a girls championship game.

99: The number of wins over four-year varsity careers for Grand Rapids Catholic Central seniors Shellis Hampton and Tiesha Stokes, after their Semifinal victory, which tied them with two others for second-most in MHSAA girls basketball history.


 “It was a pretty emotional day (Friday), a lot of tears and a lot of crying. We tried to keep the kids focused on what we could control. I was exhausted, and I wasn’t even playing. I just think waiting for that Class D game to get done; it’s just a long two-day period here. But the kids, we were playing for them. The girls really wanted to do it for them and for this community, but more so for those kids that would not be able to be here.” – Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, on her team coming back strong in Saturday's Final after hearing about the Friday crash

“Our theme this year was ‘stay hungry.’ Two years ago we in the Quarterfinals, last year the Semifinals, and we knew we were a good team. We didn’t want to be in a situation where we expected to be here. We wanted to make sure we were still putting forth the effort. We have a lot of talent, maybe the most talent in the entire state right now. But we didn’t want to use that as the only thing that guided us all year.” – Goodrich coach Jason Gray

“I knew they were three special players at that young age, and I truly in my heart believed we could get down here. I told them all year, we don’t want to just get down there and get bounced out. We want to come down there and win it. And these three had a lot to do with that, obviously.” – Morley-Stanwood coach Bob Raven, on seniors Cairnduff, Huntey and Elyse Starck

“Throughout the year, we each had moments where we could be the last player to have the ball in our hands, who wanted it, and that’s what we needed.” – Waterford Our Lady junior Lexie Robak.

See you next year ...

Grosse Pointe South: The Blue Devils came from unranked to nearly Class A champion, and the team’s two leading scorers in the Final – freshman guard Cierra Rice and junior forward Claire DeBoer – should make the team a contender again when practice begins this winter. Junior Christina Flom also started in the Final, and freshman guard Aliezza Brown played 23 minutes.

Freeland: Although the Falcons fell 72-49 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central in their Class B Semifinal, it could end up as just another catalyst for a team that graduates no one this spring. Guard Tori Jankoska will sign with Michigan State this fall, and she’s got one more season after scoring 29 points in this trip to Breslin.

Concord: The Yellow Jackets will begin next season with four starters back from this Class C Semifinalist team, and without only three seniors who graduate this spring. Junior guard Megan Redman earned all-state recognition this season in helping Concord to a 26-1 record despite playing in a league that also included Class D Semifinalist Athens. Total, the Yellow Jackets had eight juniors who should contribute again in 2012-13.

Crystal Falls Forest Park: Four starters graduate from the team that made it to Breslin. But sophomore Alexis Gussert is only a sophomore, and could be the next elite player to emerge from the Upper Peninsula – her 34 points and 12 rebounds in the Semifinal loss gave a strong first impression. All four players Forest Park brought off the bench should be back next season as well.

Link up

To watch all 12 games and press conferences after each, click on MHSAA.tv.

PHOTOS courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.

Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.

Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.

“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”

The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”

It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.

“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”

Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.

The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.

“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”

Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game. 

That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.

“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”

Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.

“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”

Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.

Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic. 

“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.