Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Girls District Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 4, 2024

The MHSAA will conclude this 2023-24 winter season with girls basketball, and every unforgettable run we’ll talk about during that third weekend in March begins this week as more than 700 teams across Michigan chart their course for East Lansing.

MI Student AidDistrict play will tip off tonight, with 128 brackets emptying into next week’s Regionals and then, eventually, the Semifinals at Breslin Center on March 21.

We always switch up our “Breslin Bound” format just a bit once the MHSAA Tournament starts, as last week’s most intriguing results below are followed this time by glances at three District brackets of note in each division. Host sites are bolded, and teams playing in those brackets are listed in order of how they stacked up by Michigan Power Rating (MPR) when seeding was announced Feb. 25, with the top seeds listed first.

Everything you could want to know this week about tickets, brackets and more can be found on the Girls Basketball page. To watch any of several games online, visit the NFHS Network.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. Grand Blanc 45, Midland Dow 37 – In a winner-take-all for the Saginaw Valley League title, Grand Blanc (17-4) clinched it for the first time by handing the Chargers (19-3) their only conference loss.

2. Frankenmuth 43, Lansing Catholic 36 – In one of the most impressive weeks for any team statewide all season, Frankenmuth (20-2) won this rematch of last year’s Division 2 championship game, before defeating Detroit Edison 63-58 two days later.

3. Kent City 43, Morley Stanwood 33 – Morley Stanwood (17-4) had finished a game ahead of Kent City (and two others) in the Central State Activities Association during the league season, but Kent City (18-4) emerged with this tournament championship win.

4. Colon 51, Mendon 47 – The Magi (20-2) finished an outright championship in the Southern Central Athletic Association West by edging the runner-up Hornets (19-3).

5. Belleville 54, Howell 46 – The Tigers (19-2) added to their perfect run through the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East with this win over West champion Howell (15-7) for the overall league title.

Districts at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:



No. 1 Rockford (21-1), No. 2 Cedar Springs (17-3), Muskegon (16-4), Muskegon Mona Shores (12-9), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (9-11), Greenville (6-14).

Reigning Division 1 champion Rockford has followed up last year’s 28-1 season with similar flawlessness, its only loss to East Kentwood on Jan. 19 – and the Rams avenged it a month later on the way to winning the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red outright. O-K Green champ Muskegon certainly would provide a challenge if they were to meet again Wednesday – Rockford won their Dec. 15 game 70-39, but that was nearly three months ago. Cedar Springs on the other side of the bracket was the runner-up in the O-K Gold, with its only two losses over the last 15 games to league champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Mona Shores also is on Cedar Springs’ side of the bracket and can’t be overlooked.


No. 1 South Lyon East (17-5), No. 2 Salem (14-7), Canton (17-5), Plymouth (14-8), South Lyon (18-3), Northville (5-17).

This might be one of the most competitive Districts in any division, with host Salem coming off a run to the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago. The Rocks split with both Canton and Plymouth this season, with Canton finishing best of the three in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, tying for second place. Two losses over their final three games dissolved Canton’s league title changes, but a Feb. 9 win over Salem sticks out among the team’s February work. Those two and Plymouth are on one side of the bracket, with Lakes Valley Conference co-champion South Lyon East and third-place South Lyon joined by Northville on the other side. East won both meetings with its rival, by 12 and then six points.


No. 1 Belleville (19-2), No. 2 Saline (18-4), Wayne Memorial (14-6), Ypsilanti Lincoln (11-11), Ypsilanti Community (12-9).

Every team in this District has a .500 record or better, and KLAA East champ Belleville is No. 4 overall in Division 1 MPR after the regular season with its losses to Mason (Ohio) and Division 2 contender Detroit Edison. The Tigers have been eliminated by Saline the last five seasons and would see the Hornets in the championship game Friday. But Saline must advance past Wayne, which owns a streak of six straight District titles and no doubt would look forward to a third matchup with Belleville after losing the first two by 11 and 28 points, respectively. Saline has won 11 of its last 12 games, its only defeat during that time from KLAA West champ Howell.


Ada Forest Hills Eastern

No. 1 Grand Rapids West Catholic (21-1), No. 2 Grand Rapids Catholic Central (16-6), Ada Forest Hills Eastern (1-21), Grand Rapids Christian (2-19), Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy (5-16).

A West Catholic/Catholic Central rematch Friday is one of the most anticipated rematches of the week, as West Catholic won their regular-season meeting 60-54 on Dec. 29 at Cornerstone University. West Catholic’s only loss of the season game two days earlier, to Rockford, and the Falcons lost only once during the 2022-23 season as well – to eventual Division 2 champion Lansing Catholic in a Semifinal at Breslin Center. West Catholic also defeated GRCC 67-49 in last year’s District Final, but the Cougars should be riding high coming off a 45-41 win over Williamston (17-5) last week, the latest of a 14-2 run.


No. 1 Chelsea (18-4), No. 2 Williamston (17-5), Haslett (15-7), Pinckney (10-11), Fowlerville (8-14).

Chelsea’s eight-game winning streak included avenging two of its defeats, against Dexter and Tecumseh, on the way to sharing the Southeastern Conference White championship with the latter. The Bulldogs have won three straight District championships, but also have the tougher side of the bracket with Haslett the Wednesday opponent if the Vikings get past Pinckney tonight. Haslett played a loaded schedule again this winter, which included a pair of league losses to Williamston – and three straight defeats in December by five points or fewer. The Hornets similarly loaded up the slate with contenders, and their only loss since falling to Chelsea 38-35 on Jan. 3 was to Grand Rapids Catholic Central.


No. 1 Lansing Catholic (17-5), No. 2 Portland (19-2), Lake Odessa Lakewood (11-11), Hastings (5-17), Charlotte (3-17).

This is also expected to end in another high-powered matchup, with the Capital Area Activities Conference White co-champs anchoring both sides of the bracket. The reigning Division 2 champion Cougars won the first matchup with Portland, 62-34 on Jan. 9, but the Raiders rebounded to win the rematch 51-44 on Feb. 13. That one was at Portland, and this one would be too – but Lansing Catholic is plenty battle-tested with its other defeats this season to Rockford, Frankenmuth (20-2), Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (22-0) and Detroit Renaissance (19-3). The Raiders lost their regular-season finale to Williamston, 45-39, but surely will be ready to bounce back for this week’s opportunity.

Detroit Cass Tech's Ari Parker steps up to launch a 3-pointer during her team's Detroit Public School League final against Renaissance on Feb. 18.


Gladstone (assigned host) or Harbor Springs, Manistique or Menominee (Non-traditional)

No. 1 Harbor Springs (20-2), No. 2 Bark River-Harris (20-2), Gladstone (14-8), Menominee (12-10), Manistique (7-13).

Because of the distance between these possible opponents, this is one of the non-traditional Districts in the tournament this season. Harbor Springs is the anticipated championship game host as it enters riding a 16-game winning streak that included avenging one of its two losses, to Elk Rapids, to share the Lake Michigan Conference title with the Elks. On the other side, Bark-River Harris is coming off a 54-51 loss to Ishpeming (21-1) last week, but that was the Broncos’ first defeat since Dec. 11 to Menominee. Bark River-Harris was stopped in its first District game a year ago by Gladstone, and they are set to meet Wednesday with Gladstone coming off a Great Northern Conference championship. Menominee was third in the GNC and has won eight of its last nine games – and Harbor Springs must be cautious if the Maroons get past Manistique tonight.


No. 1 Ovid-Elsie (19-2), No. 2 St. Charles (20-2), New Lothrop (15-7), Ithaca (7-15), Chesaning (7-14).

Ovid-Elsie, St. Charles and New Lothrop all finished among the top 20 statewide in Division 3 MPR, and New Lothrop even jumped ahead of St. Charles during the week after seeds were announced. Ovid-Elsie was first and New Lothrop second in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference – the Marauders winning their matchups 53-46 and 52-37 – and they would meet again Wednesday if New Lothrop gets past the host Yellowjackets tonight. St. Charles won a Mid-State Activities Conference that included five teams with 12 or more victories, and the Bulldogs’ only losses were to Hemlock in a regular-season opener and Division 2 Midland Bullock Creek. St. Charles has 11 and 18-point wins over Division 4 contender Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (19-3).


No. 1 Hemlock (17-5), No. 2 Sanford Meridian (20-1), Saginaw Valley Lutheran (12-10), Beaverton (11-11), Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy (8-12), Pinconning (3-18).

The reigning Division 3 champion Huskies have readied themselves for another run at the title. They are coming off two losses last week, but those were to Division 1 Saginaw Heritage (12-10) and Division 2 Freeland (19-3), and Hemlock’s other defeats were to Division 1 Midland Dow (19-3) and Division 2 Frankenmuth (20-2) and Goodrich (22-0). On the other side of the bracket, Meridian certainly has circled this week after losing to Hemlock 54-45 in last year’s District to finish 20-2. The Mustangs defeated Heritage by a bucket Feb. 17, and similar to Hemlock lost to Freeland this season by only six points. Beaverton and Valley Lutheran are potential challengers that must win tonight to meet the top seeds.


Auburn Hills Oakland Christian

No. 1 Clarkston Everest Collegiate (14-4), No. 2 Dryden (15-7), Genesee Christian (13-9), Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (10-6), Auburn Hills Oakland Christian (10-11).

Everest enters this week off a pair of notable wins, defeating Bloomfield Hills Roeper (18-2) last week after winning the Catholic High School League’s St. Anne Tournament against Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (15-4) – which had defeated the Mountaineers twice in league play. Everest this week will start with either Our Lady or Genesee Christian – Everest defeated Genesee Christian 43-42 on Jan. 4. The Soldiers actually moved up to second in this District in MPR during the week after seeds were announced, with all of their losses to opponents that have won at least 13 games. Dryden lines up similarly after tying for second in the North Central Thumb League Stars – all of its losses came to teams that have won at least 12 games. the Cardinals have made a big jump from winning four games only two seasons ago.

Baraga (assigned host) or Felch North Dickinson, L’Anse or Ishpeming (Non-traditional)

No. 1 Ishpeming (21-1), No. 2 Baraga (18-4), L’Anse (10-12), Crystal Falls Forest Park (8-14), Felch North Dickinson (8-14).

This is another District with some distance between opponents – about half the Upper Peninsula – but that will be reduced to 59 miles Friday if seeds play out and Ishpeming travels to Baraga. The Hematites finished 5-10 only three seasons ago but have been building toward this with 12 and 16 wins the last two seasons and their only loss this winter to Division 2 Negaunee (21-1) – after Ishpeming had defeated the Miners a month earlier. Ishpeming also has a 70-43 win Feb. 13 over Baraga, the reigning Division 4 runner-up. But that’s the only blemish on the Vikings’ schedule over their last 13 games, a run that’s seen them avenge an earlier loss in handing Lake Linden-Hubbell (21-1) its only defeat.


No. 1 Morenci (17-3), No. 2 Pittsford (17-5), Waldron (15-7), Jackson Christian (9-13), North Adams-Jerome (3-16).

The host Bulldogs are Tri-County Conference champions, and like Ishpeming (above) have been building up to this winning three games only three seasons ago. Morenci this winter swept Adrian Lenawee Christian and Petersburg Summerfield, the teams that eliminated the Bulldogs in the District the last two years. They may have to contend Wednesday with Waldron, which finished third in the Southern Central Athletic Association East won by Pittsford. Pittsford defeated the Spartans 34-26 on Thursday to finish that league title run, and in doing so avenged a defeat to Waldron from Feb. 13. The Wildcats will try to capitalize on that momentum as they seek their first District title since the Class D championship run of 2016.'s weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) Bark River-Harris's Marissa Ives (1) drives to the basket while being defended by Ishpeming's Mya Hemmer (14) and Jenna Maki (1) during the Hematites 54-51 win last week. (Middle) Detroit Cass Tech's Ari Parker steps up to launch a 3-pointer during her team's Detroit Public School League final against Renaissance on Feb. 18. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle photo by Olivia B. Photography.) 

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)