A-B Preview: Historic Opportunities Await

March 16, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Fans of Michigan high school girls basketball are familiar with the work over the decades of Detroit Martin Luther King, Detroit Country Day and Grand Rapids South Christian.

Five more Class A and B semifinalists have the opportunity this weekend to join them as MHSAA champions for the first time.

All four Class A and B Semifinals will be played Friday, with all four championship games Saturday. 

Semifinals - Friday
Class A

Detroit Martin Luther King (23-1) vs. St. Johns (23-3), 1 p.m.
Warren Cousino (21-4) vs. Hudsonville (23-3), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Detroit Country Day (24-1) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (24-2), 6 p.m.
Bay City John Glenn (25-1) vs. Marshall (24-1), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6 p.m.
Class C - 4 p.m.
Class D - 10 a.m.

Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit’s primary channel, with the Class B game on a delayed basis at 10:30 p.m. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

And now, a look at the semifinalists in Class A and B. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals except for St. Johns’, which are through the regular season.)

Class A

Record/rank: 23-1, No. 4
League finish: First in Detroit Public School League East Division 1 and overall
Coach: William Winfield, 33rd season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), six runner-up finishes.   
Best wins: 58-54 (OT) over No. 5 Ann Arbor Huron in Quarterfinal, 74-56 over No. 1 Southfield-Lathrup, 68-66 over No. 7 Detroit Renaissance. 
Players to watch: Micaela Kelly, 5-8 sr. G (15 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 5.8 apg, 4.3 spg); Tia Tedford, 5-8 jr. G (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, 5.6 spg), Alicia Norman, 5-4 jr. G (11.7 ppg, 7.3 apg, 6.1 spg).
Outlook: King made the Semifinals last season and is back riding a 20-game win streak and after also defeating reigning Class A champion Bloomfield Hills Marian in the regular-season finale. The Crusaders have only nine players, with two seniors and a freshman starting. But there’s plenty of talent in that small group; in addition to the starters mentioned above, freshman guard Del’Janae Williams adds 10 points, four assists and 3.3 steals per game and 6-2 senior center Jasmine Flowers is one of two players that tall in the rotation.

Record/rank: 23-3, unranked
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red 
Coach: Casey Glass, seventh season (83-77)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.    
Best wins: 40-32 over East Lansing in Quarterfinal, 45-44 over honorable mention Muskegon Mona Shores in Regional Final, 59-58 and 55-47 over East Kentwood.
Players to watch: Kasey DeSmit, 5-7 soph. G (12.3 ppg, 4.8 apg, 51 3-pointers); Shaina DenBesten, 5-10 sr. F (11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
Outlook: Hudsonville has won 21 straight games on the way to its first MHSAA Semifinal, and few teams have as much close-game experience – the Eagles have six wins and lost twice by four or fewer points. They are eight wins better than a season ago and have taken a huge jump since going 2-19 in 2013-14. This experience to should pay off in the future as well as four starters and six of the top eight players should be back next winter. Six-foot junior center Chloe Guingrich adds 9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game.

Record/rank: 23-3, honorable mention
League finish: Tied for first in Capital Area Activities Conference Red 
Coach: Mark Lasceski, 20th season (328-125)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.   
Best wins: 46-43 over No. 2 Saginaw Heritage in Regional Final, 37-31 over No. 9 Flushing in District Final, 48-38 and 52-40 over No. 6 Haslett, 56-50 over East Lansing, 61-50 over Class C No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel.
Players to watch: Maddie Maloney, 5-7 soph. G (12.1 ppg, 4.9 apg); Erika Ballinger, 5-7 jr. G (10.9 ppg, 42 3-pointers); Brooke Mazzolini, 5-8 sr. F (10 ppg, 5.4 rpg).
Outlook: St. Johns joins Haslett and DeWitt as teams from the CAAC Red to make the MHSAA Semifinals over the last two seasons after splitting the league title with both this winter. The Redwings last made the Semifinals in 1997, but should contend to return with Mazzolini and starting forward Jessica Hafner the only seniors. St. Johns relies on balanced scoring and a gritty defense that gives up only 35 points per game despite having only one player taller than 5-8. The only losses were once to Midland early and twice to No. 7 DeWitt.

Record/rank: 21-4, unranked
League finish: Tied for first in Macomb Area Conference Red 
Coach: Mike Lee, seventh season (124-41)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.   
Best wins: 41-29 over Northville in Quarterfinal, 43-39 (Regional Final) and 47-37 over Bloomfield Hills Marian.
Players to watch: Kierra Fletcher, 5-9 jr. G (21.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.6 spg); Erin McArthur, jr. G (9.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 59 3-pointers); Mackenzie Anderson, 5-5 sr. F (9.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.2 apg).
Outlook: Cousino has won at least 15 games all seven seasons under Lee, but broke through this winter with a first Regional title in program history – and with only one senior, Anderson. A strong junior group fills most of the rest of the significant roles, with freshman Mackenzie Cook also a starter. Two of the team’s four losses came to Port Huron Northern, the co-champion in their league, which also went on to make the Class A Quarterfinals.

Class B

Record/rank: 25-1, No. 2
League finish: First in North East Michigan Conference
Coach: Cory Snider, seventh season (104-51)

Championship history:
 Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins:
 55-47 over No. 5 Manistee in Quarterfinal, 59-27 over No. 8 Freeland in Regional Final, 49-46 (Regional Semifinal) and 41-23 over No. 9 Frankenmuth, 53-44 over Class A No. 1 Southfield-Lathrup, 61-38 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Renaissance, 52-48 and 55-41 over Class C No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel.
Players to watch:
 Jenai LaPorte, 5-7 sr. G (14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, 49 3-pointers); Kalle Martinez, 5-6 jr. G (15.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 67 3-pointers); Cassidy Boensch, 6-3 sr. C (17.5 ppg, 12 rpg, 5.7 bpg).
 John Glenn has been near perfect on the way to its first Semifinal, save for three-point loss to Class C favorite Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. LaPorte is the program’s all-time leading scorer and Boensch was a Miss Basketball finalist this winter, and they with Martinez give the Bobcats a trio that can match any in the state. They combine to supply almost all of the scoring, but get plenty of help defensively – John Glenn gives up only 30.7 points per game. 

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league. 
Coach: Frank Orlando, 35
th season (733-111)
Championship history: Eleven MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), four runner-up finishes.   
Best wins: 68-64 over Class A No. 3 Midland Dow, 42-38 over Class A No. 5 Ann Arbor Huron, 56-50 over Class A No. 7 Detroit Renaissance, 69-56 over Class A No. 6 Haslett, 56-52 over Class A No. 1 Southfield-Lathrup, 37-33 over Class C No. 1 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
Players to watch: Destiny Pitts, 6-0 jr. G (15.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 43 3-pointers); Kaela Webb, 5-6 soph. G (10.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.0 spg).
Outlook: The reigning champion returns its two top players, three starters total and six of nine who saw time in last season’s championship game. Four of this group are 6-0 or taller, with 6-4 junior Tylar Bennett (7.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.0 bpg) occupying the middle most of the time. The lone loss came to Class A No. 2 Saginaw Heritage, but Country Day played and beat five more of the top seven in Class A and have won all of their MHSAA Tournament games by at least 12 points.

Record/rank: 24-2, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in O-K Gold. 
Coach: Kim Legge, first season (24-2)
Championship history: Class B champion 1988, two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 70-50 over No. 4 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 59-53 over No. 6 Williamston in Regional Semifinal.
Players to watch: Jennifer DeBoer, 5-7 sr. G (16.8 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.1 rpg, 3.6 spg, 71 3-pointers); Markayla Vander, 5-8 sr. F (12.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg).

 Anchored by an all-senior lineup, South Christian is striving to return to the Class B Final for the second time in three seasons; it finished runner-up to Eaton Rapids in 2014. The Sailors haven’t missed a beat under first-year coach Legge, an assistant for 20 seasons before taking over the program this winter. DeBoer runs the point and is the top shooter in school history, this season leading a group that had made 147 3-pointers entering the week. The only losses came by two to Caledonia, also a league champion, and in the regular-season finale to GRCC, the other champion in the O-K Gold.

24-1, No. 7
League finish: 
First in Interstate 8 Athletic Conference
 Sal Konkle, 16th season (281-95)
Championship history:
 Class B runner-up 1981.
Best wins:
 41-30 over No. 4 Grand Rapids Catholic Central in Quarterfinal, 62-44 over honorable mention Stevensville Lakeshore in Regional Semifinal, 54-53 and 46-35 over Jackson Northwest.
Players to watch:
 Nicole Tucker, 5-10 jr. C (12.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg); Emily Delmotte, 5-9 jr. F (8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg).
 Marshall played in its third Quarterfinal in five seasons Tuesday, but will return to the Semifinals for the first time since that 1981 runner-up finish. A balanced lineup has made Marshall dominant, with the only loss on opening night to No. 6 Williamston. Six players average at least 4.5 points per game; junior Jill Konkle follows Tucker and Delmotte scoring 7.7 ppg to go with 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 2.2 assists per game.

The Girls Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System.

PHOTO: Bay City John Glenn has reached the Class B Semifinals in part because of its defensive excellence. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 1, 2023

Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.

The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.

The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.

Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.

Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.

Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:

Girls Basketball

Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).

Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.

Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.

Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.

Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.

Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.

Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.

Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.

Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.

Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.

Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).

Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.

Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.

Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.