Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Girls Regional Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 11, 2024

We’re a week into this season’s girls basketball playoffs, with two weeks to go, and already our Breslin Center field is beginning to change up significantly from a year ago.

MI Student AidLast week’s Districts saw six of last season’s semifinalists – including the reigning Division 3 champion and Division 4 runner-up – finish their runs in this year’s tournament. Two more of those 2023 semifinalists are set to meet in a Regional Semifinal tonight, and several more face season-defining matchups over the next three days – and we detail some of those as we glance at three Regionals in each division below.

Ticket information, 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. Sanford Meridian 59, Hemlock 47 In defeating the reigning Division 3 champion Huskies (18-6), the Mustangs (22-1) continued one of the most impressive program turnarounds over the last half-decade; they were winless five years ago but have reached 20 victories all of the last three seasons.

2. Byron Center 47, East Kentwood 44 This was a matchup of Ottawa-Kent Conference division champions, and Byron Center (20-4) avenged a 58-52 season-opening loss to the Falcons (20-4).

3. Fowler 64, Portland St. Patrick 58 These rivals had split their regular-season series, as the Shamrocks (21-3) had won the middle meeting and the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title – but the Eagles (21-3) advanced to this week.

4. Grand Rapids West Catholic 43, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 36 This was another matchup of O-K Conference division winners, as West Catholic (23-1) added to its six-point win over the Cougars (17-7) from December.

5. Vicksburg 69, Paw Paw 57 These two also split during the regular season, with Vicksburg (21-2) winning the last two meetings to first clinch the Wolverine Conference title and this time end Paw Paw’s season at 21-3.

Goodrich moves the ball upcourt during its second of three wins over Lake Fenton this season, 61-48 on Feb. 16.

Regionals at a Glance

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


Bloomfield Hills Marian
Grosse Pointe North (19-5) vs. Royal Oak (18-6)
Detroit Renaissance (21-3) vs. West Bloomfield (22-1)

Both Renaissance and West Bloomfield reached last season’s Division 1 Semifinals, but didn’t meet – Renaissance fell to Rockford to start the weekend before the Rams defeated West Bloomfield in the championship game the following day. The winner of their Regional Semifinal tonight will be the likely favorite to return to East Lansing from this quarter of the statewide bracket. West Bloomfield’s only loss was to an Ohio opponent, and Renaissance lost only to Detroit Edison (18-3), Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (24-0) and Tecumseh (20-4). Grosse Pointe North and Royal Oak are intriguing spoilers with great storylines, however; GPN was a Regional champion last year that ran into Renaissance in the Quarterfinals, and Royal Oak has enjoyed a memorable rise from three wins only two seasons ago.

Holt (16-8) vs. DeWitt (22-2)
Portage Central (19-2) vs. Coldwater (21-3)

This Regional features a pair of league champions – DeWitt and Portage Central – and Central opened this season by winning its first 16 games, although the Mustangs did lose their regular-season finale to Coldwater, 44-28 on Feb. 29. The Cardinals are a repeat District champ after finishing runner-up to Jackson Northwest in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, and their win over the Mounties on Feb. 6 started a current eight-game winning streak. Holt and DeWitt are plenty familiar with each other on the other side of the bracket, the Panthers winning their matchups 52-37 and 54-41 in clinching the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue while the Rams tied for second place. DeWitt has some added motivation as well after falling to Holt in last season’s Regional Final. Holt and Coldwater also faced off earlier this season, with Coldwater winning 40-33 on Jan. 5.

Grand Blanc (19-4) vs. Howell (17-7)
Clarkston (18-6) vs. White Lake Lakeland (20-4)

After a first-game playoff exit a year ago, Lakeland is coming off its third District title in four seasons and seeking its first Regional championship to add as well to a shared Lakes Valley Conference title this winter. After winning the Saginaw Valley League for the first time, Grand Blanc also could take another next step as it seeks to follow up its fourth-straight District championship by winning what would be a first Regional title since 1977. Howell is a league champion as well, from the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, and a return District champ. The Highlanders and Clarkston faced off Dec. 15, with the Wolves winning 51-48. Clarkston tied for second in the Oakland Activities Association Red, won by West Bloomfield, but avenged a Feb. 13 loss to Lake Orion in defeating the Dragons 41-40 in their District Final on Friday.


Alma (19-5) vs. Flint Powers Catholic (21-3)
Frankenmuth (22-2) vs. Freeland (21-3)

Powers finished third in the Saginaw Valley League to Grand Blanc and Midland Dow, losing only to those two Division 1 rivals and Division 3 contender Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, and is joined this week by the top three teams from the Tri-Valley Conference Red – champion Frankenmuth, runner-up Freeland and third-place Alma. The Eagles, last season’s Division 2 runners-up, defeated Freeland 53-51 and 54-49 this winter and Alma 57-44 and 58-18 – and also defeated Freeland in last year’s Regional Final. Alma dealt the Falcons their only other loss this season, 62-49 on Feb. 6 to avenge a 29-point loss from Jan. 9.

Tecumseh (20-4) vs. Parma Western (15-9)
Lansing Catholic (19-5) vs. Haslett (18-7)

The Cougars are the reigning Division 2 champions and on a nice run with seven wins over their last eight games, the only loss to Frankenmuth, and last week’s 56-37 District Final win over Portland avenging a seven-point loss to the Raiders from Feb. 13. Lansing Catholic also defeated Haslett 48-37 on Feb. 6, but the Vikings also are on an impressive streak of seven straight wins including a 69-68 overtime victory over Chelsea last week followed by a 56-43 win over Williamston that avenged two regular-season defeats. Haslett also defeated Parma Western 53-39 during this late surge, but the Panthers otherwise have won eight of their last 10 games. They did fall to Tecumseh 59-37 on Dec. 12, and Tecumseh has won 17 of its last 18 games – the lone loss during that string to Chelsea, but with notable wins over Detroit Renaissance and Jackson Northwest at the end of the regular season.

Armada (16-3) vs. Goodrich (24-0)
Warren Regina (12-13) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (23-0)

At least one team will end the season this week with its lone loss. Goodrich’s last defeat came in a Semifinal at Breslin Center a year ago, and half its wins during this regular season were over teams that finished with 14 victories or more heading into the playoffs. Armada finished second in the Blue Water Area Conference but won its District by avenging a loss to league champ Yale in a big way, 49-29. St. Mary’s opened this season with a 51-42 win over Warren Regina and went on to win the Catholic High School League AA and Cardinal Tournament championships. Regina had a rough start this winter but has won eight straight and defeated Macomb Area Conference Gold champion Marine City 49-35 in its District Final.


Allen Park Cabrini (10-13) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (20-4)
Brooklyn Columbia Central (15-8) vs. Blissfield (22-2)

A Blissfield/Arbor Prep meeting in the Regional Final would be a rematch of last year’s won by Blissfield 50-38 on the way to finishing Division 3 runner-up. Blissfield’s only losses since were to Tecumseh and Niles Brandywine this winter, and the Royals have won 16 straight games. Blissfield also opened with a 57-42 win over Columbia Central, which went on to win the Cascades Conference West. Arbor Prep readied for this run with a regular-season schedule filled with Division 1 and 2 opponents, and the Gators’ only losses were to Division 1 Jackson Northwest and Division 2 Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, Detroit Edison and Detroit Country Day. Cabrini has surged late to win a third District in a row.

St. Ignace
West Iron County (14-11) vs. Harbor Springs (22-2)
Elk Rapids (22-2) vs. Roscommon (17-7)

Harbor Springs and Elk Rapids shared the Lake Michigan Conference championship, Elk Rapids winning the first meeting 61-51 and Harbor Springs the rematch 48-41 on Jan. 30. Elk Rapids also won their District Final matchup a year ago on the way to the Quarterfinals. Roscommon could throw off the rematch scenario, emerging from a tie for fourth in the Highland Conference, which sent three teams into this week. West Iron also brings some intrigue with nine wins over its last 11 games including a 52-42 District Semifinal victory over Calumet that avenged one of the losses during this recent run.

Sanford Meridian
Manton (19-5) vs. Lake City (22-2)
Sanford Meridian (22-1) vs. Morley Stanwood (19-4)

Sanford Meridian might be riding as high as any team in the state after avenging its 2023 District loss with a 59-47 win over reigning Division 3 champion Hemlock to close last week. Lake City and Manton finished first and second, respectively, in a Highland Conference that produced three District champions, and Lake City won their matchups 68-34 and 39-27 and also owns a 49-37 win over Morley Stanwood from Jan. 3. Four of Manton’s five defeats were to eventual District winners, and the fifth to a team that reached its title game last week. Morley Stanwood won the Central State Activities Association and defeated TVC White champion St. Louis in another notable District Final.


Marquette (for Regional Final)
Ewen-Trout Creek (19-5) vs. Lake Linden-Hubbell (23-1) at Houghton
Ishpeming (23-1) vs. Carney-Nadeau (18-6) at Kingsford

Lake Linden-Hubbell is seeking its first Regional title, and Ishpeming its first since 1985 – and there are challenges on both sides of the bracket. Carney-Nadeau is a league champion, from the Skyline Central Conference Small schools division, and Ewen-Trout Creek finished third to 2023 Division 4 champion Baraga and Lake Linden-Hubbell in the Copper Mountain Conference, pushing the Lakes in a 59-55 overtime game Jan. 11. Lake Linden-Hubbell’s lone defeat was to Baraga (19-5), while Ishpeming’s was to Division 2 Negaunee (23-1).

Concord (19-5) vs. Colon (22-2)
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (10-14) vs. Mendon (21-3)

Colon won the Southern Central Athletic Association West thanks in part to 54-31 and 51-47 wins over runner-up Mendon, and the Magi defeated Concord 61-47 on Feb. 24. Colon and Mendon also have met during the postseason the last four years, with Colon winning three of those meetings. Mendon’s only other loss this winter was to Division 1 Sturgis, 43-38, while Concord’s other four were to larger schools as the Yellow Jackets finished second in the Big 8 Conference. Michigan Lutheran won its third District title over the last four seasons edging Three Oaks River Valley 30-29 in last week’s decider.

Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart
Bay City All Saints (19-5) vs. Breckenridge (18-6)
Brethren (19-5) vs. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (21-3)

This Regional includes a pair of league champions. All Saints won the North Central Thumb League Stripes and navigated a competitive District with wins of two and three points to advance. Brethren was the West Michigan D League champion and advanced with wins over a pair of league opponents, including 48-36 over WMDL runner-up Manistee Catholic Central in the District Final. Breckenridge and Sacred Heart played together in the Mid-State Activities Conference and finished third and second, respectively, to St. Charles. If the MSAC rivals meet again, it will be noted that Sacred Heart won their first matchup 50-34 and the Huskies the second 40-24 on Feb. 7'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) Negaunee's Callie Rajala goes up for a shot while being defended by Ishpeming Westwood's Lexi Olson during the Miners’ 65-33 win Dec. 21. (Middle) Goodrich moves the ball upcourt during its second of three wins over Lake Fenton this season, 61-48 on Feb. 16. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.)