Best of Divine Child's Blairs May Be Last as Kennedy Paces Hopeful Falcons

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

January 12, 2023

DEARBORN – The Blair family’s presence within Dearborn Divine Child athletics – and most significantly in basketball – has stretched more than a decade as youngest-of-five-siblings Kennedy Blair takes the court for the last of her four seasons on the Falcons’ varsity.

Greater DetroitThere was Morgan, who was on Divine Child’s 2011 Class B championship team and went on to a college career at Northern Kentucky and Hillsdale.

Next was Riley, Kennedy’s other older sister who played at Divine Child and Ferris State.

Kennedy’s two older brothers, Quinn and Gannon, also played basketball at Divine Child, with Quinn going on to play in college at William & Mary.

“Being able to watch them play, it helped me grow my IQ,” Kennedy said. “They definitely are huge role models to me.”

Given how all five Blairs loved basketball, one can only imagine the battles that took place on the family’s backyard court.

“We always fought because we are so competitive,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “We play occasionally, and it never turns out well.”

Now a senior at Divine Child, Kennedy, a 5-foot-9 point guard, is not only the last of the siblings to star at Divine Child, but she also might be the best.

Blair is one of the most talented basketball players in the state, coming off a 2021-22 season during which she was named first-team all-state in Division 1 after averaging more than 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals per game.

There’s been no letup or seniorities this year, as going into Tuesday’s game against Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, Blair was averaging 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals a contest for a Divine Child team that will take a 9-2 record into a Friday game at traditional state and Catholic League powerhouse Bloomfield Hills Marian.

Blair celebrates with her teammates. “You know you have a pretty special player because it’s so impressive to lead in essentially every statistical category for all four years,” said Divine Child head coach Mary Laney, who is in her 19th season at the helm of the program.

Laney said Blair has been even better this year thanks in large part to an increased emphasis in two areas.

One was strength and conditioning over the offseason.

“She’s really gotten even stronger,” Laney said. “She put forth a great deal of effort — more so than in previous offseasons — in regards to strength and conditioning. She came into this season in better condition and stronger than during any other season. That’s helped her game.”

The other was continuing to evolve into just as big of a force on defense as she is on offense.

“She’s really long and always could get a lot of deflections,” Laney said. “Those are now turning into steals. She rebounds the ball really well.”

As was the case with Morgan, Riley and Quinn, Kennedy won’t be done with basketball after high school, as she has signed to play for Bowling Green.

“It was the best fit for me,” Kennedy said. “They know where I’m going to fit in the offense and recruited me really strictly. They knew everything about me and made sure to take their time following everything I do, which I appreciate as a player.”

Before worrying about college basketball though, Kennedy wants to become the second player in the family to have a state championship ring.

Kennedy admits to hearing some good-natured trash talking from Morgan about how she has a championship, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility Kennedy can be a part of a title-winning team as well.

Divine Child was in Division 1 last year, but is competing in Division 2 this season. The Falcons were tied for No. 9 in the first Associated Press poll, released earlier this week.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the path to the Finals will be easier, especially with traditional state power Detroit Edison possibly looming in Regionals.

But with one of the state’s best players regardless of division, the sky is the limit for Divine Child.

“We can get it this year,” Kennedy said. “I can feel it.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Divine Child’s Kennedy Blair considers her options while directing the team’s offense. (Middle) Blair celebrates with her teammates. (Photos by Rick Jakacki, Dearborn Divine Child athletics.) 

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.