Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Girls Semifinal Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 15, 2023

We can make some guarantees about this weekend’s MHSAA Girls Basketball Semifinals & Finals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.

We will depart Saturday night with a first-time champion in Division 3, as all four contenders are seeking their first Finals title.

We will watch two reigning champions try to win it all again – West Bloomfield and Fowler – and a returning runner-up in Grand Rapids West Catholic led by a Miss Basketball Award finalist, Cadence Dykstra.

And we can almost guarantee – or at least excitedly anticipate – an incredibly lively Finals atmosphere as six teams attempt to reach Saturday’s championship games for the first time, and 11 of 16 teams playing this weekend pursue either their first titles or first in at least 25 years.

DIVISION 1 - Friday
Salem vs West Bloomfield - Noon
Detroit Renaissance vs Rockford - 2 p.m

DIVISION 2 - Friday
Frankenmuth vs Goodrich - 5:30 p.m.
Grand Rapids West Catholic vs Lansing Catholic - 7:30 p.m.

DIVISION 3 - Thursday
Madison Heights Bishop Foley vs Blissfield - Noon
Hemlock vs Hart - 2 p.m.

DIVISION 4 - Thursday
Baraga vs Fowler - 5:30 p.m.
Glen Lake vs Lenawee Christian - 7:30 p.m

Finals – Saturday
Division 1 - 12:15 p.m.
Division 2 - 6:15 p.m.
Division 3 - 4 p.m.
Division 4 - 10 a.m.

Tickets for this weekend’s games are $12 for both Semifinals and Finals and available via the Breslin Center ticket office; for information and links visit the Girls Basketball page.

All Semifinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription on, and all four Finals will air live Saturday on Bally Sports Detroit – Divisions 4 and 2 on the primary channel and Divisions 1 and 3 on BSD Extra – as well as on the BSD website and app. Audio broadcasts of all Semifinals and Finals will be available free of charge from the MHSAA Network.

The Girls Basketball Semifinals & Finals are sponsored by Sparrow Health System

Here’s a look at the 16 semifinalists (with rankings by MPR and statistics through Regional Finals unless noted):

Division 1

Record/rank: 23-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Detroit Public School League Blue and overall
Coach: Dashaun Wood, first season (23-1)
Championship history: Class B champion 2005, four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 52-37 over No. 6 Grosse Pointe North in Quarterfinal, 43-33 over No. 3 Farmington Hills Mercy in Regional Final, 41-39 over No. 19 Wayne Memorial, 66-54 over Division 2 No. 12 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Anaya Hardy, 6-3 jr. SF/PF (12.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg); Christian Sanders, 5-7 jr. PG (14.1 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.3 spg); Amyah Espanol, 5-7 PG/SG sr. (11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 spg). (Statistics through 18 games.)
Outlook: The Phoenix most recently finished Division 1 runner-up in 2021, and Sanders started on that team as a freshman. Wood, a 2003 Detroit Crocket grad, took over the program having starred at Wright State and enjoyed a successful professional career in Europe. Renaissance’s only loss this season was 53-52 in overtime to Detroit Catholic League champion Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, and the Phoenix also earned notable wins over East Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Lake Orion among others. Espanol is one of only three seniors, so there likely are big things to come next season as well.

Record/rank: 26-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Brad Wilson, sixth season (106-33)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 53-43 (Regional Final) and 61-44 over No. 5 Byron Center, 59-40 and 45-28 over No. 8 Hudsonville, 61-49 and 40-28 over No. 12 East Kentwood, 61-47 and 52-30 over No. 18 Holland West Ottawa, 50-36 over Division 2 No. 9 Haslett, 71-39 over Division 2 No. 12 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Anna Wypych, 6-0 soph. G (14.2 ppg, 47 3-pointers); Grace Lyons, 5-8 jr. G (11.7 ppg, 47 3-pointers); Alyssa Wypych, 5-10 sr. G (12.8 ppg, 65 3-pointers).
Outlook: Lyons and Alyssa Wypych started and Anna Wypych came off the bench last season as Rockford fell just three points shy of defeating eventual champion West Bloomfield in a Semifinal, 66-63. Alyssa Wypych and Lyons earned all-state honorable mentions, and the trio this season has keyed a lineup that went undefeated in one of the toughest leagues in the state and also picked up solid wins over Muskegon, Lowell and Holt – with the Rams’ only loss to Division 2 semifinalist Grand Rapids West Catholic. Rockford’s 231 made 3-pointers entering the Quarterfinal ranked sixth all-time, with freshman guard Sienna Wolfe (9.6 ppg) connecting on another 32.  

Record/rank: 21-6, No. 13
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West and overall
Coach: Rod Wells, second season (32-16)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-52 over No. 17 Riverview in Quarterfinal, 46-42 over Saline in Regional Semifinal, 67-64 (OT) over No. 19 Wayne Memorial, 59-37 over No. 14 Brighton.
Players to watch: Shahd Bakkar, 5-7 sr. G (11.2 ppg, 3.9 spg); Madison Morson, 5-9 jr. G (22.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg); Ashley Kopacko, 5-8 sr. G (8.2 ppg).
Outlook: Salem will be playing in its first Semifinal since 1990 and finished 2-15 only two seasons ago. Wells previously led Ypsilanti Arbor Prep to the Class C championship in 2016 and has guided the turnaround and a bounce-back as well after a 2-5 start this season. Salem finished first in a KLAA that saw five teams win 14 or more games, with a sweep of Howell and split with Northville also among strong performances and the Brighton win avenging an early loss. Morson earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

Record/rank: 25-2, No. 4
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Darrin McAllister, second season (50-3)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2022, Class A runner-up 1989.
Best wins: 66-34 over No. 7 Flint Carman-Ainsworth in Quarterfinal, 59-49 over Division 2 No. 1 Detroit Edison, 86-83 over Chicago Kenwood Academy, 48-30 and 60-20 over Lake Orion, 81-40 and 53-33 over Rochester.
Players to watch: Summer Davis, 5-9 jr. G (19.1 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.0 spg, 74 3-pointers); Indya Davis, 5-9 jr. G (15.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.3 spg); Sydney Hendrix, 5-11 sr. F (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Outlook: West Bloomfield returns to Breslin Center with three starters and its top two subs from last year’s championship team. Both Davis twins earned all-state honorable mentions last season and have committed to sign with Michigan State, and Hendrix has signed with Florida A&M. Juniors Destiny Washington (8.1 ppg) and Kendall Hendrix (7.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) were those top subs and successfully have moved into the starting lineup. The Lakers’ only losses were in December, to Arbor Prep by four and Indiana power South Bend Washington.

Division 2

Record/rank: 24-2, No. 7
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference 8
Coach: Joe Jacobs, third season (65-7)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1996), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 51-36 over No. 16 Houghton in Quarterfinal, 54-27 (Regional Final), 46-39 (OT) and 62-31 over Freeland, 41-37 over Division 1 No. 9 Grand Blanc, 55-35 over Division 3 No. 4 Hemlock.
Players to watch: Lexi Boyke, 6-1 sr. F/G (13 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.9 bpg); Mia McLaughlin, 5-8 jr. G (10.6 ppg, 3.9 apg, 41 3-pointers); Clare Conzelmann, 5-8 soph. G (9.8 ppg, 3.2 spg).
Outlook: The Eagles are making their first trip to the Semifinals since that last championship season of 1996 but have reached at least the Regional Finals all three seasons under Jacobs, who formerly coached the boys varsities at Saginaw Nouvel, Clio and Flushing before returning to his alma mater. McLaughlin made the all-state second team last season and is committed to Ferris State, and Boyke made the all-state first team two seasons ago before missing last year with a knee injury; she’s signed with Central Michigan. The lone losses came to Lake Fenton (23-1) and Lansing Catholic, a possible championship game opponent.  

Record/rank: 24-3, No. 10
League finish: First in Flint Metro League Stars
Coach: Jason Gray, 24th season (473-94)
Championship history: Class B champion 2013 and 2012.
Best wins: 76-71 (3OT) over No. 12 Detroit Country Day in Regional Final, 54-53 over No. 4 Lake Fenton in District Final, 52-43 over Division 3 No. 10 Ovid-Elsie, 65-31 over Imlay City.
Players to watch: Riley Place, 5-7 sr. G (13.2 ppg, 77 3-pointers); Kalen Williams, 5-11 sr. C (8.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg); Alexis Kosmowski, 5-6 jr. F (10.2 ppg).
Outlook: Goodrich is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since 2015, thanks in part to handing the only loss this season to Lake Fenton after losing their first three meetings this winter. No other opponent has defeated the Martians, and only Country Day and Ovid-Elsie came within single digits of doing so. Goodrich also has built one of the best 3-point shooting totals in state history, with its 202 heading into this week tied for ninth all-time and Place’s 77 tied for 24th on the individual record list. Kosmowski was second with 32, and three others have sunk at least 22. Place has committed to sign with Rochester University.

Record/rank: 26-0, No. 5
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Jill VanderEnde, ninth season (144-55)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1990), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 53-45 (OT – Regional Final) and 51-37 over No. 20 Grand Rapids Christian, 61-54 over Division 1 No. 1 Rockford, 55-50 over Division 1 No. 8 Hudsonville, 49-35 over Muskegon, 49-41 over East Grand Rapids.
Players to watch: Cadence Dykstra, 5-10 sr. G (13.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.0 apg, 3.3 spg); Elisha Dykstra, 5-10 soph. F (11.2 ppg); Reese Polega, 6-0 jr. G (9.9 ppg, 46 3-pointers).

Outlook: West Catholic finished Division 2 runner-up last season, graduated an all-state first-teamer who plays at MSU, and hasn’t lost again. Cadence Dykstra, who has signed with Toledo, made the all-state second team last season, and Elisha Dykstra earned an honorable mention. Senior Ellie Bies (6.7 ppg, 3.2 spg) and junior Emma Tuttle (6.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg) also started last year for VanderEnde, who previously coached at Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Findlay and Grand Valley State and has led this team to a combined 90-4 record over the last four seasons. The win over Rockford (see above) was the Rams’ lone defeat this winter.

Record/rank: 22-5, No. 19
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Coach: Kacee Reid, 10th season (127-89)
Championship history: Class C champion 1995.
Best wins: 78-69 over No. 11 Redford Westfield Prep, 46-34 over No. 8 Chelsea in Regional Final, 54-42 over No. 9 Haslett in District Final, 74-42 over No. 7 Frankenmuth, 52-38 over No. 2 Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, 65-38 over Division 3 No. 2 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
Players to watch: Anna Richards, 5-10 jr. G (12.2 ppg, 60 3-pointers); Leah Richards, 6-0 jr. F (10.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg); Gabby Halliwill, 5-5 jr. G (8.6 ppg, 51 3-pointers).
Outlook: Lansing Catholic is making its first trip to the Semifinals since 2004 after playing one of the strongest schedules in the state. The Cougars opened 2-4 but are 20-1 since with that lone loss to Haslett and avenged in the District Final. Only two wins during the 20-in-21 run were decided by single digits – against Division 1 Lowell and Division 4 semifinalist Fowler. Anna Richards earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is the leading scorer of a balanced group with six players averaging at least 5.6 ppg entering this week – and five of those six juniors.

Detroit Renaissance's Imani Johnson prepares to shoot a free throw during her team's PSL championship game win over Detroit Cass Tech.

Division 3

Record/rank: 26-1, No. 9
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Ryan Gilbert, 15th season (237-90)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1973.
Best wins: 45-41 over No. 10 Ovid-Elsie in Quarterfinal, 50-38 over No. 2 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in Regional Final, 43-27 and 47-27 over Brooklyn Columbia Central, 51-22 over Division 4 No. 13 Adrian Lenawee Christian.
Players to watch: Avery Collins, 5-6 jr. G (11 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4.0 spg); June Miller, 5-5 jr. G (8.7 ppg, 32 3-pointers); Julia White, 6-0 sr. C (10 ppg, 10 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: After also reaching Quarterfinals in 2014 and 2017, Blissfield broke through for its first Semifinals trip since the first season of girls basketball in Michigan. The Royals’ only loss was Dec. 29 to Division 1 Grand Blanc, 45-39, and no other opponent has come within single digits or scored more than 43 points as Blissfield gives up 26.8 per game. Collins earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is surrounded by a balanced cast with seven players averaging between 4-11 ppg. White and forward Sarah Bettis (4.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, 1.0 bpg) are the lone seniors.

Record/rank: 24-3, No. 17
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference Rivers
Coach: Travis Rosema, fifth season (89-28)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 45-41 over No. 1 Buchanan in Quarterfinal, 37-34 over No. 16 Kent City in Regional Final, 43-34 (District Final), 51-32 and 54-38 over Mason County Central, 43-42 over Ludington.
Players to watch: Abby Hicks, 5-7 jr. G (14.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 5.9 spg); Addi Hovey, 5-10 soph. G/F (16.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 4.4 spg, 1.6 bpg, 44 3-pointers); Aspen Boutell, 5-5 sr. G (10.8 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.1 spg).
Outlook: After winning its second Regional title (and first since 1992), Hart is making its first trip to the Semifinals coming off its two best wins – with the Kent City victory avenging a Dec. 20 loss. All three defeats were to teams that won at least 19 games. The Buchanan win was the Bucks’ first loss since their season opener, and Kent City was the Division 3 runner-up the last two years. Hovey and Hicks are the leading scorers but joined by three seniors in the starting lineup including Boutell, who with Hovey earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

Record/rank: 24-3, No. 4
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference 10-1
Coach: Scott Neumeyer, 10th season (177-57)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 52-37 over No. 15 Elk Rapids in Quarterfinal, 60-56 (OT) over No. 8 Lake City in Regional Final, 67-52 over No. 7 Traverse City St. Francis in District Final, 54-45 over No. 19 Sanford Meridian in District Semifinal, 73-42 over No. 13 Ithaca, 60-26 over Division 4 No. 7 St. Charles.
Players to watch: Regan Finkbeiner, 5-6 sr. G (17.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 4.8 spg, 60 3-pointers); Lauren Borsenik, 6-2 jr. F/C (10.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg); Chloe Watson, 5-10 sr. G/F (14.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 71 3-pointers).
Outlook: Hemlock is getting the opportunity it also earned two years ago during the abbreviated 2020-21 season, when it reached the Semifinals but had to withdraw amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Few teams this season faced a tougher draw on the way to East Lansing. All five of the Huskies’ playoff opponents won 20 or more game this season, adding Saginaw Valley Lutheran to those listed above. But Hemlock also had defeated Valley Lutheran during the regular season, 21-win Standish-Sterling twice, Ithaca and St. Charles and lost to three Division 2 teams including Frankenmuth. Finkbeiner and Watson both earned all-state honorable mentions last season, and the team had 214 3-3-pointers entering this week, good for eighth-most all-time.  

Record/rank: 21-6, No. 32
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #1
Coach: Colleen Szakacs, first season (21-6)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 34-32 over Sandusky in Quarterfinal, 51-42 (District Final) and 44-26 over Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, 36-26 over Macomb Lutheran North.  
Players to watch: Ryan Moorer, 5-8 jr. G/F (11.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Alyssa Samartino, 5-8 sr. G (9.1 ppg); Abby Pasinos, 5-1 sr. G (5.3 ppg, 32 3-pointers).
Outlook: After reaching the Semifinals for the first time last season, Bishop Foley has returned under Szakacs, a past Foley standout who took over the program after previously coaching the junior varsity. Moorer and Samartino also were main contributors during last season’s run, and they’ve helped the Ventures return after closing the regular season with three straight losses to top-12 MPR teams in Divisions 1 and 2. Five of their six defeats total were to teams from those larger-school divisions, with the sixth to 2022 Division 3 champ Arbor Prep. Despite playing such a tough group, Foley is giving up only 33 points per game.

Division 4

Record/rank: 18-10, No. 13
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Emilie Beach, first season (18-10)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2019), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 52-43 over Hillsdale Academy in Regional Final, 51-43 over No. 11 Morenci in District Final, 51-44 over No. 9 Pittsford in District Semifinal, 59-52 over Bronson.
Players to watch: Isabelle Kirkendall, 5-10 sr. F (10.3 ppg); Avery Sluss, 5-8 sr. G (14.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 56 3-pointers); Selah Clymer, 5-9 jr. G (6.0 ppg).
Outlook: Lenawee Christian is returning to the Semifinals despite graduating four starters from last year’s Breslin team and losing leading rebounder Hannah Baker (8.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg) to injury near the end of the regular season. Sluss also was among leading scorers and 3-point shooters last winter, and she, Kirkendall and Dalay Ojeda are then lone seniors. They prepped with a tough schedule which included losses to three top-20 MPR Division 4 teams plus Blissfield, avenging a season-opening defeat to Morenci two weeks ago. Beach, a former Morenci standout, took over the program this season after previously coaching the JV.

Record/rank: 22-5, No. 14
League finish: First in Copper Mountain Conference - Copper Country
Coach: Tyler Larson, second season (46-7)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 40-36 over No. 4 Mackinaw City in Quarterfinal, 53-37 over No. 12 Norway in Regional Final, 47-39 over Ewen-Trout Creek in Regional Semifinal, 55-48 (District Final) and 57-36 over Lake Linden-Hubbell, 54-48 and 42-38 over No. 19 Ontonagon.
Players to watch: Corina Jahfetson, 5-5 sr. G (18 ppg, 3.2 apg, 4.2 spg, 90 3-pointers); Kylie Michaelson, 5-6 sr. G (12.5 ppg); Makenna Hendrickson, 5-6 jr. PG (9.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.7 spg).
Outlook: Baraga made the Semifinals last season for the first time since 1992 and now has made the winter’s last weekend both seasons under Larson while also winning a fifth-straight league title. Jahfetson earned an all-state honorable mention in 2022, and her 90 3-pointers entering this week rank seventh all-time. Although Baraga graduated an all-state first teamer, she, Michaelson, Hendrickson and senior forward Autumn Tembreull all started last season’s Semifinal as the Vikings came within six points of catching eventual repeat champion Fowler – and the two top subs from that game also are back.

Record/rank: 20-7, No. 8
League finish: Second in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Nathan Goerge, 13th season (178-121)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2022), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 47-43 over No. 1 Kingston in Quarterfinal, 61-42 over No. 18 Petersburg Summerfield in Regional Final, 40-35 (District Final) and 51-44 over No. 5 Portland St. Patrick, 46-42 and 44-37 over Pewamo-Westphalia.
Players to watch: Emma Riley, 5-7 sr. G (15.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg); Taylor Weber, 5-5 sr. G (8.4 ppg, 55 3-pointers); Avery Koenigsknecht, 5-4 sr. G (7.3 ppg, 3.0 apg).
Outlook: Fowler graduated last season’s Division 4 statewide Player of the Year but returned another all-stater in Riley, who with Koenigsknecht started on both championship teams the last two seasons while Weber was last year’s top sub. The Eagles have won 13 of their last 14 games, and only one defeat this season came to a Division 4 opponent – St. Patrick, with that loss since avenged twice. Fowler also gave Division 2 Lansing Catholic one of its closest games, lost to Division 3 Dansville in overtime and by just two points to Division 1 Midland Dow.

Record/rank: 24-2, No. 2
League finish: First in Northwest Conference
Coach: Jason Bradford, 15th season (280-72)
Championship history: Class D champion 1978, runner-up 1979.
Best wins: 57-49 over No. 7 St. Charles in Quarterfinal, 54-45 over No. 3 Gaylord St. Mary in Regional Final, 51-45 over Division 3 No. 7 Traverse City St. Francis, 52-41 over Division 3 No. 15 Elk Rapids.
Players to watch: Ruby Hogan, 5-7 sr. G (19.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 5.5 spg); Maddie Bradford, 6-0 sr. C (15.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 bpg); Eleanor Valkner, 6-0 jr. F (5.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg).
Outlook: Glen Lake is back at the Semifinals but in Division 4 this time after playing in Division 3 a year ago. Hogan, Maddie Bradford and senior guard Gemma Lerchen (4.8 ppg) all started during the last Breslin trip. The varsity is a combined 68-4 over the last three seasons. The only losses this time were to Division 1 Traverse City Central and Division 2 Cadillac, and Glen Lake has won its last 16 games – all but two during that run by double digits. Senior Olivia Mikowski adds 5.9 points and five rebounds off the bench.

PHOTOS (Top) Fowler's Grace Epkey (23) goes to the basket during her team's Tuesday Quarterfinal win over Kingston. (Middle) Detroit Renaissance's Imani Johnson prepares to shoot a free throw during her team's PSL championship game win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Top photo by Terry Lyons; middle photo by Olivia B. Photography.)

High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

July 11, 2024

Jareica Hughes had a Hall of Fame collegiate basketball career playing at University of Texas-El Paso and has played professionally overseas, but her most prized possession is something she earned playing high school basketball in Michigan. 

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosA standout at now-closed Southfield-Lathrup High School during the early-to-mid 2000s, Hughes proudly displays a signature symbol of Lathrup’s Class A championship team in 2005. 

“I have my state championship ring on me right now,” said Hughes, now an assistant head coach for the women’s basketball program at UTEP. “I wear this ring every single day. Not so much for the basketball aspect. Inside of the ring it says ‘Hoop Squad.’ It’s more the connection I’ve had with those particular young ladies. Friends that I’ve known since I was kid. Every once in a while when we talk, we go back in time.”

Believe it or not, Hughes and her high school teammates next year will have to go back 20 years to commemorate a run to the title that started when they were freshmen. 

It was a gradual build-up to what was the first girls basketball state championship won by a public school in Oakland County. Lathrup, which has since merged with the former Southfield High School to form Southfield Arts & Technology, remained the only public school in Oakland County to win a state girls basketball title until West Bloomfield did so in 2022 and again this past March. 

Lathrup lost in the District round to Bloomfield Hills Marian during Hughes’ freshman year, and then after defeating Marian in a District Final a year later, lost to West Bloomfield in a Regional Final.

When Hughes was a junior, the team got to the state’s final four, but a bad third quarter resulted in a heartbreaking one-point Semifinal loss to eventual champion Lansing Waverly. 

A year later, when Hughes and other core players such as Brittane Russell, Timika Williams, Dhanmite’ Slappey and Briana Whitehead were seniors, they finished the job and won the Class A crown with a 48-36 win over Detroit Martin Luther King in the Final.

However, the signature moment of that title run actually came during the Semifinal round and was produced by Hughes, a playmaking wizard at point guard who made the team go. 

Trailing by three points during the waning seconds of regulation against Grandville and Miss Basketball winner Allyssa DeHaan – a dominant 6-foot-8 center – Hughes drained a tying 3-pointer from the wing that was well beyond the 3-point line. 

Lathrup went on to defeat Grandville in overtime and prevail against King.

Hughes said the year prior, she passed up on taking a potential winning or tying shot in the Semifinal loss against Waverly, and was reminded of that constantly by coaches and teammates. “I just remember in the huddle before that shot, that just kept ringing in my mind,” she said. “That was special. I cried for weeks not being able to get a shot off (the year before) and leaving the tournament like that.”

Growing up in Detroit, Hughes got into basketball mainly because she had five older brothers and an older sister who played the game. In particular, Hughes highlights older brother Gabriel for getting her into the game and taking her from playground to playground.

“I’m from Detroit,” she said. “We played ball all day long. Sunup to sundown. When the light comes on, you had to run your butt into the house.”

Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center.Hughes played for the Police Athletic League and also at the famed St. Cecilia gym in the summer, developing her game primarily against boys.

“My first team was on a boys team,” she said. “I was a captain on a boys team.” 

The family moved into Lathrup’s district before she began high school. 

Once she helped lead Lathrup to the 2005 championship, she went on to a fine career at UTEP, where she was the Conference USA Player of the Year twice and helped lead the Miners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Hughes still holds school records for career assists (599), steals (277) and minutes played (3,777). On Monday, she was named to Conference USA’s 2024 Hall of Fame class. 

After a brief professional career overseas was derailed by a shoulder injury, Hughes said getting into coaching was a natural fit. 

“I had to make the hard decision, and I knew as a kid I wanted to be around basketball,” she said. “Once I made that decision (to quit), I knew I was going to coach.”

Hughes started coaching in the Detroit area, first serving as an assistant at Southfield A&T from 2016-20 and then at Birmingham Groves for a season. She then served as interim head coach at Colby Community College in Kansas before being named an assistant at UTEP in May 2023, a month after her former coach Keitha Adams returned to lead the program after six seasons at Wichita State.  

While fully immersed in her job with UTEP, Hughes’ high school memories in Michigan certainly aren’t going away anytime soon – especially with the 20th anniversary of Lathrup’s championship coming up. 

“We are still close friends because we all essentially grew up together,” she said. “They are still my friends to this day.”

2024 Made In Michigan

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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Southfield-Lathrup’s Jareica Hughes drives to the basket against Detroit Martin Luther King during the 2005 Class A Final; at right, Hughes coaches this past season at UTEP. (Middle) Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center. (UTEP photo courtesy of the UTEP sports information department.)