Blissfield Edges Bishop Foley to Earn Long-Awaited Title Game Return

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 16, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Blissfield girls basketball program from this point on hopes it’s a lot sooner than 2073 before it returns to a state championship game.

But for the time being, the Royals will enjoy returning after a 50-year absence.

For the first time since finishing as Class C runner-up in 1973, Blissfield will play for a Finals championship after defeating Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 45-41, in a Division 3 Semifinal on Thursday. 

“It was a typical game for us,” Blissfield head coach Ryan Gilbert said. “A gritty win. We gutted it out. I thought we made plays when we had to and played our best when we needed to play our best.” 

The difference in the game was Blissfield’s frontcourt, where seniors Sarah Bettis and Julia White proved too much for Bishop Foley to overcome. 

White finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Bettis had eight rebounds to help Blissfield earn a 34-21 advantage on the boards.

The Royals (27-1) had 14 offensive rebounds to just three for Bishop Foley. 

“That was our thought going in,” Gilbert said. “We wanted to get it inside early and try to get them in foul trouble. We finished some, we missed some. But we got a lot of rebounds. We did a great job on the glass.”

The Royals' Avery Collins (4) looks for an open teammate.Junior Avery Collins scored 10 points, and freshman Leigh Wyman had nine to flank White for Blissfield. 

Collins said many community members have been telling her for years that this season was the time for the team to get to East Lansing, given the nucleus of the team and what grades they were going to be in. 

Now, that vision has been fulfilled. Blissfield will face  Hemlock in Saturday's Division 3 Final at 4 p.m.

“I believed in us as soon as it started,” Collins said. “I believed in us.”

Junior Ryan Moorer scored 11 points, senior Abby Pasinos had 10 and senior Alyssa Samartino added nine points for Bishop Foley (21-7), which advanced to the Semifinals for a second-straight year. 

“To make it two years in a row is tough,” Bishop Foley head coach Colleen Szakacs said. “These girls battle day in and day out, especially in this game. We battled back no matter what and made it a down-to-the-wire, exciting game. Unfortunately, there were a couple of plays we could have done better here and there. But hats off to Blissfield and how well they performed.”

Blissfield entered giving up 26.8 points per game, while Bishop Foley had given up 33 points a contest while playing a scheduled filled with Division 1 and Division 2 schools. 

But before the fourth quarter was two minutes old, each team had given up more points than their average. 

Blissfield held a 44-38 lead with 27.9 seconds remaining, but Bishop Foley cut the deficit to 44-41 with 17.2 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Pasinos. 

The Ventures then got the ball back on a turnover, but after a timeout, missed a 3-pointer with under 10 seconds remaining that was rebounded by Wyman. 

Following a foul with 8.1 seconds left, Wyman hit a free throw to give Blissfield a 45-41 lead. 

A last-second 3-point attempt by Bishop Foley missed, essentially ending the game. 

Trailing 30-25 going into the fourth quarter, Bishop Foley cut the Blissfield lead to two points on three occasions during the first four minutes of the period. 

However, Bishop Foley couldn’t get over the hump and tie the game, and Blissfield took a 41-35 lead with 1:47 remaining after a putback by sophomore Peyton Tennant.

Bishop Foley cut its deficit to 41-38 with 1:32 remaining after a 3-point play by Samartino. 

Blissfield had an answer, taking a 43-38 lead with 51.3 seconds remaining on a layup by Wyman and then going up 44-38 with 27.9 seconds to go on a free throw by Collins.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Blissfield's Abrie Louden (3) gets a hand up on a Madison Heights Bishop Foley shot during Thursday's first Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Royals' Avery Collins (4) looks for an open teammate.

St. George's Senior Season Filled with Historic Trip, Sizzling 3-Point Shooting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 21, 2024

Delaney St. George helped Kingston reach its first MHSAA Girls Basketball Final this winter – and along the way finished her high school career among the most prolific 3-point shooters in state history.

The four-year varsity senior made 87 3-pointers this season for the Division 4 runner-up Cardinals, good to tie for 10th on the single-season list after she made 93 as a junior to rank fourth all-time.

She finished her Kingston career with 290 3-pointers in 793 attempts over 94 games – good for second on the career 3-pointers list.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click on the heading to see the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Hemlock’s 18-6 run this season was fueled in part by more successful 3-point shooting. The Huskies made single-season lists with 170 3-pointers and 552 attempts, and also for making 14 3-pointers Jan. 5 against St. Louis.

Senior Mia McLaughlin made nine of 15 3-point shots for Frankenmuth in a Feb. 6 win over Birch Run as the Eagles made the team record book list with 15 3-pointers total. They also were added for 14 3-pointers in a Feb. 20 win over Bay City John Glenn. McLaughlin will continue her career at Ferris State.

McBain sophomore Peyton Grant scored all 27 of her points Jan. 17 against Houghton Lake on nine 3-pointers to make the single-game list in that category.

Seniors Autumn Tremblay and Ceara LeBlanc earned Brimley’s first girls basketball record book listings this season. Both made single-game lists in a Feb. 27 win over Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian – Tremblay scored 21 points during the first quarter and LeBlanc had 16 steals for the game – and LeBlanc also was added for 141 steals total over 25 games this past winter.

Reed City’s run at the Central State Activities Association title this winter was fueled in part by 3-point shooting. The Coyotes finished one game out of first, but made the records with 517 3-point attempts over 24 games – and just missed the made 3-pointers list connecting on 143.

Howell sophomore Gabrielle Piepho added her third record book listing over her first two seasons this winter making 89.2 percent of her free throw attempts to rank eighth on that single-season list. Howell as a team also made the 3-point attempts list with 536 over 25 games, and also just missed the 3-pointers made list with 146.

Saline finished the 2023-24 season among the all-time leading 3-point shooters again, this time with 192 – 14th-most for one season – in 587 attempts over 24 games. Sophomore Keira Roehm led the way with 78 3-pointers, tying for 21st on that list.

Junior Tamerah Peterson led Sterling Heights Parkway Christian to a District title this season, providing a record-setting defensive boost in addition to her offensive skills. She finished with 173 steals – eighth-most for one season – over 21 games.

Niles Brandywine reached Breslin Center this season with another stellar distance shooting display, making the record book with both 186 3-pointers and 610 attempts from beyond the arc in finishing Division 3 runner-up.

Alie Bisballe capped her career at Lake City this winter by helping her team reach the Division 3 Semifinal at Breslin Center – and by reaching the MHSAA girls basketball record book in two categories. The 6-foot-4 post player made the lists with 329 rebounds and 188 blocked shots, both in 28 games as Lake City finished 25-3. She will continue her career at Wisconsin.

Ironwood junior Hanna Vaughn will enter her final season next winter already on the career 3-pointers list. She’s made 155 3-pointers over her first three seasons and 70 games on varsity.

PHOTO Kingston’s Delaney St. George (10) pulls up for a shot during the Division 4 Final against Ishpeming.