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.)

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.)