All-Around Solid Play Sends Bellaire Into 1st Title Game
By Steve Vedder
Special for MHSAA.com
April 7, 2021
GRAND RAPIDS – Patience explains much of why the Bellaire girls basketball team finds itself on the brink of history.
The Eagles charged into their first Division 4 championship game with a methodical 48-29 win over Petersburg Summerfield in Wednesday's Semifinal at Van Andel Arena.
Bellaire wasn't necessarily flashy, but used a hefty rebounding edge, a stingy defense that allowed just three second-half baskets and a balanced offense to earn the trip to Friday's 10 a.m. championship game at the Breslin Center against Fowler.
Doing a bit of everything right is why the Eagles will play for their first-ever Finals title, coach Brad Fischer said.
"We want to be patient offensively," he said. "It's hard to key on any one person for five or six passes. We like to work the ball around and keep the team concept. (Defensively) we've played against teams with 3-point shooters, and we don't want to let too many 3-pointers off."
Bellaire (17-3) never trailed after taking a 20-19 lead with 1:34 left in the first half. Summerfield cut a seven-point deficit to as little as 28-25 with 4:10 left in the third quarter, but Bellaire scored 12 of the next 13 points to lead 40-26 with six minutes left in the game.
The Eagles' defense was superb, allowing just two field goals in the final 11 minutes. Bellaire forced 15 turnovers while holding the Bulldogs (15-5) to just 24 percent shooting from the floor. Bellaire, meanwhile, shot 42 percent.
"We keep telling the girls defense, defense, defense," Fischer said. "It's a cliché, but it comes up again. It was kind of an odd game in that we didn't move our feet at times, and we were a little undisciplined. But the longer a game goes, the stronger the girls get in ratcheting it up."
Senior guard Katie Decker and sophomore center Jacey Somers each scored 10 points with Madi Evans and Emersyn Koepke each adding eight. Decker added 11 rebounds as Bellaire held a 37-22 edge on the boards.
Senior Noel Mann, who chipped in six points, six assists, six rebounds and two steals, said the ability to overcome Summerfield's defense was a key.
"Their ability to anticipate, to extend our zone took us off guard," she said. "Once we got through that, it opened things up for us. Their defense was longer than we expected."
Summerfield coach Mickey Moody said the sagging rebounding number was mostly the result of Bellaire's aggressiveness.
"They outworked us, outrebounded us," Moody said. "They put more bodies on us, and we didn't attack the basket like we usually do. We pretty much went side to side. I thought we played pretty decent in the first half and got their best player in foul trouble, but we missed a lot of opportunities. We should have attacked a lot more. But in the first half we were fine, we just missed some opportunities."
Summerfield got nine points from Destanee Smith, while Grace Kalb and Breanna Smith each had six points.
"They were aggressive and put pressure on us," Kalb said. "It was a lot like our Regional Semifinal. When we'd drive on them, they weren't afraid to put a body on us."
PHOTOS: (Top) Bellaire's Delaney Goodwin (2) brings the ball upcourt Wednesday with Madi Evans (32) and Katie Decker (3) also on the break. (Middle) Bellaire's Jacey Somers gets up a shot against Calumet. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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.
“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.
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.”
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.