We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA girls basketball season. And while the schedule is full of an increasing number of must-see games across the state, all of them fit into some serious crunching of numbers going on behind the scenes at our East Lansing office.
Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. We’re sitting at 694 member girls varsity teams this winter, and we’ve nearly completed a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 23-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.
Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – for just scores alone, we’ve been able to collect more than 98 percent from an estimated 4,500 games that have been played so far this winter. We’ll be working to track down the rest before District pairings are announced Jan. 19. And then we’ll finish the same process for boys schedules and results.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 33, Farmington Hills Mercy 26 The Irish (12-3) broke reigning Detroit Catholic League Central champion Mercy’s 12-game league winning streak, handing Mercy its first defeat of the season and also avenging a 46-33 loss to the Marlins (13-1) only three weeks earlier.
2. Saline 41, Temperance Bedford 22 The Hornets (13-2) not only became the last undefeated team in Southeastern Conference Red play, but earned it by handing Bedford (13-1) its first defeat overall.
3. Traverse City St. Francis 54, Harbor Springs 31 The Gladiators (11-1) avenged their lone loss and in the process joined Elk Rapids in a tie atop the Lake Michigan Conference standings, with Harbor Springs (12-2) half a game back.
4. Byron Center 48, East Grand Rapids 35 The Ottawa-Kent Conference White is one of the top leagues in the state, and Byron Center (12-3) sits atop the standings after defeating third-place EGR (11-4) and then fourth-place Lowell during a big week.
5. Detroit Renaissance 50, Detroit Cass Tech 46 The undefeated Phoenix (14-0) moved into first place alone in the Detroit Public School League Blue, with one more league game to play, as Cass (6-6) fell a game back.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Byron Center (12-3) As noted above, Byron Center had a massive week heading into Tuesday’s rematch with O-K White second-place Grand Rapids Christian. The Bulldogs won the first meeting with the Eagles 54-34 on Dec. 15, hence their one-game lead atop the league standings. That victory also started a 10-game winning streak after Byron Center took early losses from O-K Red contenders East Kentwood, Rockford and Hudsonville. Total, the Bulldogs have won 41 straight league games in the O-K White and before that Green, going back five seasons.
Grosse Pointe North (12-2) The Norsemen can clinch a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red championship against Port Huron on Tuesday, which would run their league title streak to three seasons. North’s only losses this winter were to still-undefeated Lake Fenton and Red second-place Utica Eisenhower, the latter by a point in their second meeting Jan. 19. Seven of GPN’s 12 wins have come against teams that would be .500 or better if not for losing (once, or twice) to North.
Grand Rapids West Catholic (14-0) The reigning Division 2 runner-up has won 35 of its last 36 games and avenged last season’s lone regular-season loss, defeating Rockford this time 61-54 to win the Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament Gold championship. West Catholic’s 71-32 win over former league co-leader Hamilton last week put the Falcons in first alone in the O-K Blue, and only Division 1 contenders Hudsonville and East Grand Rapids have joined Rockford in coming within single digits of catching them.
Wixom St. Catherine (12-1) The Stars have clinched a share of the Catholic League AA championship, after sharing it with Royal Oak Shrine Catholic last season. St. Catherine defeated Shrine 54-35 on Jan. 13 and will face the Knights again Friday to close the league schedule. The only loss this winter came to Detroit Country Day on Dec. 6, and only 11-win Flint Powers Catholic has come within single digits since that lone defeat.
Hancock (11-1) In a loaded Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, Hancock could emerge as the best starting tonight with the second of two meetings against Calumet (10-2), and with two against Houghton (12-1) coming up as well. The 45-39 win over Calumet on Dec. 13 was among Hancock’s best victories, and the lone loss came Jan. 13 to still-undefeated Escanaba, 50-49. The Bulldogs tied for second in the West-PAC West last season before losing their District opener to Ishpeming, but they’ve defeated Ishpeming 42-27 this winter and face the Hematites again Wednesday.
Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) Coming off avenging that lone loss to Harbor Springs (see above), St. Francis would seem to have the upper hand in the Lake Michigan Conference even with Elk Rapids also having just one league loss – they meet again Feb. 9, and St. Francis won the first matchup 43-26 on Jan. 13. The Gladiators are seeking their first league title since 2017-18 and annually are in the hunt; they’ve also had their last three seasons ended with playoff losses to Maple City Glen Lake, which they see Wednesday for the first time this winter.
Cedarville/DeTour (11-2) The Islanders lead the Eastern Upper Peninsula Athletic Conference and haven’t lost for more than a month, their defeats coming to still-unbeaten Mackinaw City and then Oscoda three days later in early December. It’s an impressive turnaround from last season’s 8-12 finish, and has included six victories against teams .500 or better and five against opponents with at least eight wins. A Feb. 14 home game against St. Ignace will provide another big opportunity.
Indian River Inland Lakes (10-4) An 0-2 start to this season is becoming a memory, especially after Inland Lakes avenged the second of those defeats – by 17 to Johannesburg-Lewiston – with a 55-51 win last week. The only other losses came to Mackinaw City at the Comets’ Christmas Tournament, and to Ski Valley Conference leader Gaylord St. Mary two weeks ago. The Bulldogs rebounded from their tough start in December with wins over Bellaire and Cheboygan that avenged 2021-22 losses.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – DeWitt (12-1) at Holt (12-2) – The co-leaders in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue face off for the first of two meetings this season after the teams split a year ago.
Wednesday – Maple City Glen Lake (11-2) at Traverse City St. Francis (11-1) – In addition to those three playoff wins over St. Francis the last three seasons, Glen Lake is looking to extend a five-game regular-season winning streak against the Gladiators.
Thursday – Buchanan (12-1) at Niles Brandywine (10-1) – Buchanan is atop the Lakeland Conference standings and Brandywine is second because of the Bucks’ 49-45 overtime win when they met the first time Dec. 15.
Friday – Detroit Edison (10-2) at Farmington Hills Mercy (13-1) – Edison’s only defeats this season were to Illinois teams in early December, and only West Bloomfield last winter has handed the Pioneers an in-state loss over the last five seasons.
Friday – Escanaba (13-0) at Houghton (12-1) – The Eskymos will take their perfect record to the Keweenaw Peninsula in what could possibly be a preview of a Division 2 District Final as well.
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PHOTOS (Top) Marquette's Siena Lingle (21) attempts to block a shot by Calumet's Laina Kariniemi (14) during the Copper Kings' 50-44 win Jan. 23. (Middle) Haslett's Maddie Fant (5) and Abigail Brooks (24) defend during the Vikings' 52-32 win over Brighton on Saturday. (Top photo by Cara Kamps. Middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)
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:
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.