Breslin Bound: 2023-24 Girls Report Week 11

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 19, 2024

Premium matchups over the last week further amped up the playoff frenzy in Michigan high school girls basketball – and the beginning of the MHSAA Tournament is still two weeks away.

MI Student Aid

But expect the excitement to just keep building – especially with Sunday’s announcement of this season’s District bracket pairings.

The formula for those brackets has been released, making this a week full of forecasting as teams and fans figure out how their teams fit based on the still-shifting Michigan Power Ratings. Several more big matchups are coming up, so more movement could be on the way – stay tuned.

“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. Rockford 62, East Kentwood 54 The reigning Division 1 champion Rams (19-1) moved back into first place alone in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red by avenging their 60-54 loss to East Kentwood (15-3) from Jan. 19.

2. Chelsea 51, Tecumseh 35 Two weeks after Tecumseh (14-4) made headlines with its first win over Chelsea (15-4) since 2016, the Bulldogs won the rematch to create a tie atop the Southeastern Conference White with one league game left for both.

3. Portland 51, Lansing Catholic 44 The Raiders (16-1) avenged their lone loss of the season, 62-34 to reigning Division 2 champion Lansing Catholic (13-4) on Jan. 9, to move within one more league win of clinching a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference White.

4. Detroit Renaissance 66, Detroit Cass Tech 27 The Phoenix (18-1) added to their Detroit Public School League Blue title with the PSL Tournament championship, as Cass Tech (12-9) finished runner-up in both.

5. Ishpeming 70, Baraga 43 These are two of the top small-school teams statewide, with Ishpeming (17-1) attempting to earn a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference East title and Baraga (15-4) the reigning Division 4 runner-up and current overall leader in the Copper Mountain Conference.

Saginaw United brought a large Dow Center crowd a 48-43 win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:


DeWitt (17-2) The Panthers clinched a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title by downing East Lansing 54-42 and can finish an outright championship run Tuesday against second-place Holt. They’ve won nine straight since a one-point loss to Haslett (13-7) on Jan. 17; the only other defeat was to Byron Center (15-4). All but one victory, an eight-pointer over Williamston (14-4), came by 12 or more points. DeWitt also owns a 58-44 win over Saline (see below).

Saline (15-3) The Hornets will need help to catch Temperance Bedford (15-2) in the Southeastern Conference Red, with one more league loss and two league games to play. But they won Friday’s rematch with the Kicking Mules 38-32 and are tracking to match and potentially surpass last season’s 21-4 overall finish. Six wins total have come over opponents with double-digit victories, with others against Grass Lake (15-4), Riverview (15-3) and Dexter (14-5) and the losses to Bedford, Dexter and DeWitt.


Grand Rapids Catholic Central (13-6) Despite a 2-4 start, Grand Rapids Catholic Central has shown itself more than capable of hanging with the contenders in Division 2. Few teams have losses to a more impressive group – Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (20-0), East Kentwood (15-3), Chelsea (15-4), Grand Rapids West Catholic (17-1), Detroit Edison (15-2) and Kenowa Hills (12-6) – and that no doubt is expected to pay off in a District that includes West Catholic. The Cougars lead the O-K Gold and can clinch a share of the title Tuesday against Ottawa Hills before taking on second-place Wayland (13-6) on Friday for a possible outright championship. GRCC won the first game against Wayland 51-50 and also has handed Cedar Springs (15-3) two of its defeats.

Portland (16-1) As noted above, Portland is closing in on a potential CAAC White title share, made even more impressive became Lansing Catholic also is a solid contender to repeat as Division 2 champion next month and four of eight teams in the league have won at least 10 games. Portland definitely is in the Division 2 title conversation as well, and actually would host the District Final matchup with the Cougars in three weeks if the bracket works out that way. The Raiders have just the one loss, plus nine wins against opponents with 11 victories or more, including 46-40 over Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (14-4). A few more interesting challenges are ahead, notably Friday against Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth and next week at Williamston.


Lake City (17-2) Last season’s 24-2 run ended with an overtime Regional Final loss to eventual Division 3 champion Hemlock, and this season began with losses to 2023 Division 2 runner-up Frankenmuth (16-2) and Evart (14-3). Lake City hasn’t lost again, taking the rematch with Evart and defeating Manton (16-4) twice to take the lead in the Highland Conference, while also downing Elk Rapids (17-2) and Morley Stanwood (15-2) along the way. In fact, the 44-40 win over Elk Rapids on Dec. 20 was the team’s only single-digit victory until defeating Manton 37-29 on Friday. Wednesday’s trip to Division 2 Hart (13-4) is another matchup to watch.

St. Charles (17-1) The Bulldogs have clinched the outright championship in the Mid-State Activities Conference, making them 4-for-4 on league titles since joining the MSAC, with three of those outright. Last season’s 24-3 run ended in a Division 4 Quarterfinal defeat to eventual champion Glen Lake, and St. Charles is in Division 3 this time – with its lone loss 53-35 in the season opener to reigning Division 3 title winner Hemlock. The 17-game winning streak has included victories over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (16-3) twice, including 54-43 on Friday, plus pairs over Breckenridge (13-5) and Fulton (12-7).


Kinross Maplewood Baptist (15-3) The Black Bears have won 17 and 16 games the last two seasons, and they may be taking another step if Friday’s 55-29 win over Mackinaw City (18-1) is an indication. Mackinaw City is the Northern Lakes Conference champion, and Maplewood’s losses were twice to Big Bay de Noc (15-2) in finishing second in the Northern Lights League and once to Beaver Island. The Black Bears also have twice doubled up Engadine, which ended Maplewood’s season a year ago. They are leading the race for the top seed in the District at Rudyard and finish up the regular season this weekend at the NLL Tournament.

Lake Leelanau St. Mary (14-2) The Eagles may be coming off a loss Saturday to Division 1 Bedford (15-2), but they have plenty of wins to boost their candidacy as contenders next month. St. Mary won 11 straight before the Bedford loss, including over reigning Division 4 champion Glen Lake (14-5), St. Ignace (12-6) and Gaylord St. Mary (12-6). The other loss was Dec. 12, to Division 3 Benzie Central, and the Eagles will get one more big test next week against Division 2 Sault Ste. Marie (11-4) before jumping into the District at Leland. They currently would get the second seed after Glen Lake, which ended St. Mary’s run a year ago.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Holland West Ottawa (14-4) at Rockford (19-1) – West Ottawa’s biggest fans this week are probably at East Kentwood, as Rockford can clinch a share of the O-K Red title with a win but the Falcons will still have a title hope if West Ottawa avenges an earlier loss to the Rams.

Thursday – Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard (20-0) at Detroit Renaissance (18-1) – The Operation Friendship matchup is a rematch of last season’s meeting of league champions that ended in a 53-52 overtime win for FGR, Renaissance’s only loss of the 2022-23 regular season.

Thursday – Portage Central (16-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (15-2) – Central brings a one-game lead into this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West finale after winning the first meeting with Lakeshore 53-44 on Jan. 18.

Friday – Belleville (17-1) at Detroit Edison (15-2) – Belleville is undefeated in Michigan and only one of Edison’s losses was in-state as these two both have high aspirations for next month in Divisions 1 and 2, respectively.

Friday – Munising (14-3) at Bark River-Harris (17-1) – These two are undefeated in the Skyline Central Conference Large schools division as Bark River-Harris seeks to claim a fifth-straight league title.'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) Detroit Renaissance and Cass Tech face off during Sunday's Detroit Public School League Tournament Final at Wayne State; Renaissance won 66-27. (Middle) Saginaw United brought a large Dow Center crowd a 48-43 win over Flint Carman-Ainsworth. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Kolleth Photo.)

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.)