Baraga Returns, Avenges & Books Another History-Making Opportunity

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 16, 2023

EAST LANSING — At first, Baraga thought its last chance to win its Division 4 Semifinal against Fowler on Thursday had slipped away.

But suddenly it was restored, and Vikings’ senior Corina Jahfetson took advantage. 

Jahfetson connected on two free throws with 9.9 seconds remaining for what turned out to be the winning points in a 46-44 Baraga victory that advanced the Vikings to their first championship game while avenging last season’s six-point Semifinal loss to the Eagles.

Jahfetson’s successful shots also ensured there will be a new Division 4 champion, as the Vikings’ win ended Fowler’s hopes of extending its two-year title reign to three.

“I had to put these in,” Jahfetson said of her mindset at that key moment. “I knew this was going to be our last chance to get shots up.”

With the game tied 44-44 during the final minute, Baraga tried to hold for a final shot, but was called for an illegal screen to give the ball to Fowler with 9.9 seconds left.

After a timeout, Fowler tried to get the ball inbounds, and after a scramble eventually a foul was called that sent Jahfetson to the line. 

Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson (22) works to get past Fowler’s Grace O’Hare.

She then did what Baraga hadn’t during the rest of the final 2:30 — make consecutive free throws — to give her team the lead. Up until that point, Baraga had gone 5-of-11 from the line over that closing span.

Following the free throws, Fowler (20-7) had one last chance to win, but a long 3-point attempt missed the rim and fell out of bounds as time expired. 

“Incredible game against an incredible program,” Baraga head coach Tyler Larson said. “That’s the standard that has been set in this division. We had 364 days since we played them, if my math is correct. These kids have been putting in countless hours over the past year. Not the best basketball we’ve played, but it was good enough.”

Makenna Hendrickson scored 17 points, Kylie Michaelson had 10 and Jahfetson added nine points to lead Baraga (22-5). 

Senior Emma Riley finished a stellar Fowler career by scoring 21 points to lead all scorers.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” Fowler head coach Nathan George said. “I thought we worked hard in the second half and battled. I thought we executed pretty well. But give them credit. Their role players made shots, and they made free throws down the stretch. We just couldn’t capitalize.

“I’m proud of the girls. They have worked hard and done so much, especially the seniors. They’ve done so much for this program the last four years. I can’t thank them enough, and they have a lot to be proud of.”

Trailing 43-39 with 50.5 seconds left, Fowler cut its deficit to 43-42 with 41.9 seconds remaining after a three-point play by Riley. 

Hendrickson was fouled and made a free throw to put the Vikings up 44-42 with 39.6 seconds left, but Fowler then tied the game at 44-44 with 28 seconds remaining on a layup by Taylor Weber.

The reigning champion jumped out to a 15-10 advantage with 5:10 left in the second quarter. But the Vikings held Fowler scoreless for the rest of the second quarter and took a 17-15 lead into halftime.

Fowler appeared to gain some separation late in the third quarter when it scored six straight points to take a 25-19 lead with 1:15 left in that period, but Baraga countered with a 7-0 run to take a 26-25 lead going into the fourth.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Baraga players begin to celebrate their team’s 46-44 win over Fowler on Thursday at Breslin Center. (Middle) Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson (22) works to get past Fowler’s Grace O’Hare.

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

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.