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.

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)