Breslin Bound: Girls A-B Semis Preview

March 12, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The most fun angle to this weekend's Class A and B Girls Basketball Finals at the Breslin Center is that none of the eight teams still alive in those classes has won an MHSAA championship since at least 1998. 

In fact, four of the eight have never played in an MHSAA championship game.

That's not to say this is new ground for all of the teams making the trip. Aside from reigning champion Goodrich, the rest of the 2013 Class B final four returns intact. And Detroit Catholic League rivals Farmington Hills Mercy and Bloomfield Hills Marian have six champioships between them – with the guarantee one will be playing Saturday for the Class A title. 

Here's a look at Friday and Saturday's schedule (Class C and D teams were previewed in a separate story earlier Wednesday): 

Semifinals - Friday
Class A
Canton (21-4) vs. Grand Ledge (24-2), 1 p.m.
Farmington Hills Mercy (25-1) vs. Bloomfield Hills Marian (23-2), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Grand Rapids South Christian (25-0) vs. Midland Bullock Creek (24-1), 6 p.m.
Flint Powers Catholic (23-2) vs. Eaton Rapids (21-5), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6 pm
Class C - 4 pm 
Class D - 10 am 

Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, the Class D and A title games on FOX Sports Detroit's primary channel and the Class C and B games on FOX Sports Detroit-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

Here's a look at all eight Class A and B teams playing this weekend:

Class A

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 5
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Mary Cicerone, 31st season (558-193) 
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 1998), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 49-38 over honorable mention Canton, 57-54 over No. 3 Farmington Hills Mercy, 41-27 over No. 9 Farmington Hills Harrison in District Semifinal, 56-48 and 66-40 over Class B honorable mention Dearborn Divine Child.
Players to watch: Brittany Gray, 5-11 jr. F (10.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg); Kara Holinski, 5-9 jr. G (10 ppg).
Outlook: The Mustangs have returned to the Semifinals for the first time since 1998 despite only one senior. Marian has been engaged in a tug of war with Catholic League rival Mercy all season, also losing twice to the Marlins, and that continues Friday. Cicerone is the sixth-winningest coach in MHSAA girls basketball history and leads one of the most consistently successful programs with only three sub-.500 finishes since taking over in 1983. Individuals' stats don’t stick out, but balance is a strength – six players average between six and 10 points per game.

Record/rank: 21-4, honorable mention
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association South
Coach: Brian Samulski, ninth season (165-48)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final. 
Best wins: 42-33 over honorable mention Holly in Regional Semifinal, 31-28, 31-29 and 48-34 (District Final) over Plymouth, 36-25 over Class B honorable mention Dearborn Divine Child.
Players to watch: Paige Aresco, 5-10 sr. F (14.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg); Taylor Hunley, 5-1 sr. C (10 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: Canton has lost only twice more since opening with defeats to Marian and Mercy, and defensively has been incredible – the Chiefs are giving up an average of only 28 points per game and grabbing 11.6 steals per. They are seeking their first championship game berth, but missed advancing back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 falling by a total of four points.

Record/rank: 25-1, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Gary Morris, 10th season (164-73) 
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1982), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 58-46 over No. 1 Detroit Martin Luther King in Regional Final, 73-60 over No. 2 Grosse Pointe South in Regional Semifinal, 55-54 and 40-38 over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 37-33 over honorable mention Canton, 62-59 over Class B No. 2 Goodrich, 59-46 over Class B No. 8 Flint Powers Catholic.
Players to watch: Taylor Jones, 5-7 jr. G (12.5 ppg); Candice Leatherwood, 5-6 sr. G (10.3 ppg, 4.0 apg).
Outlook: Emerging from the most competitive Regional in any class in recent memory, Mercy looks like a strong favorite this weekend. That lone loss came to Marian, by four in overtime, and the Marlins have won 20 straight including beating both the No. 1 and 2-ranked teams by double digits last week. Balance is a strength of this team as well – nine players have scored 10 or more points in at least one game this winter.

Record/rank: 24-2, No. 4
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue 
Coach: David Jones, fifth season (79-36) 
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final. 
Best wins: 45-44 over No. 7 Richland Gull Lake in District Final, 36-32 over No. 6 Haslett in Regional Final, 56-44 over honorable mention Kalamazoo Central in Regional Semifinal.
Players to watch: Hannah Orwat, 5-8 sr. G (15 ppg); Lindsay Orwat, 5-8 sr. G (13.4 ppg); Cori Crocker, 6-3, jr. C (10.7 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.6 bpg).  
Outlook: The Comets came into this season with high expectations, then opened 2-2 losing to honorable mention DeWitt and No. 1 Detroit Martin Luther King in December (although Lindsay Orwat was injured for the DeWitt game). Grand Ledge has run off 22 straight wins since to advance past the Quarterfinals for the first time ever after falling to eventual champion Grand Haven in that round last season. Crocker, who has committed to play volleyball at the University of Michigan, is one of three 6-footers in the lineup.  

Class B

Record/rank: 21-5, honorable mention
League finish: Second in Capital Area Activities Conference Gold
Coach: Willis Whitmyer, 15th season (210-122)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 53-37 over No. 6 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in Quarterfinal, 69-29 over No. 9 Olivet in District opener, 33-30, 45-23 (District Final) over honorable mention Jackson Northwest, 57-44 over Class A No. 6 Haslett, 43-38 over Class A No. 10 Southgate Anderson.
Players to watch: Allie Dittmer, 6-1 sr. C (14.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg); Kathryn Mills, 5-11 sr. F (10 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
Outlook: This run has been a long time coming for the Greyhounds, who have won four District and three league titles over the last nine seasons but had never advanced to Finals weekend. Eaton Rapids has won all of its tournament games by at least 10 points and eight straight by double digits despite facing a tough road to Breslin. All five starters and a top sub are seniors.

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 8
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley Association South
Coach: Thom Staudacher, third season (52-22)
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2001), four runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 51-31 over No. 4 Detroit Country Day in Quarterfinal, 58-51 over No. 2 Goodrich in Regional Final, 57-37 over honorable mention Frankenmuth in District Final, 65-22 over honorable mention Flat Rock, 54-26 over Class A No. 8 Midland.
Players to watch: Michela Coury, 6-2 sr. F (11.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.9 bpg), Ally Haran, 5-9 sr. G (12.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.1 apg, 4.4 spg), Sara Ruhstorfer, 5-5 sr. G (10.3 ppg, 2.9 spg).  
Outlook: The Chargers who made an unexpected run for a young team last season are much more seasoned coming into this weekend, and they reinforced that fact by eliminating two of the top four ranked teams over the last week. Three starters from last season’s championship game loss are among those leading the way. The only losses this winter were to Class A Quarterfinalist Farmington Hills Mercy and Class C Quarterfinalist Saginaw Nouvel.

Record/rank: 25-0, No. 1
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Coach: Jim DeBruyn, 25th season (439-131)
Championship history: Class B champion 1988, one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 34-31 and 44-38 (Regional Semifinal) over honorable mention Holland Christian, 40-36, 28-27 and 50-45 (Regional Final) over honorable mention Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Cassidy Vredevoogd, 6-0 sr. C (9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Renee Broekhuizen, 5-11 sr. F (8.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
Outlook: South Christian is hoping to put the crowning achievement on a five-year run that has seen the Sailors improve from 11 to 12 to 21 to 23 and now to 25 wins over the last five seasons. They’ve also won two league, three District and two Regional titles during that time and advanced to last season’s Semifinals. Vredevoogd, Broekhuizen and senior Morgan Torres all started during that run as well.

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Coach: Justin Freeland, 12th season (218-56)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 51-45 over honorable mention Bay City John Glenn in District Final, 66-32 over No. 5 Clare in Regional Semifinal, 44-32 over honorable mention Frankenmuth, 43-33 over Class C No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel.
Players to watch: Ellie Juengel, 5-8 jr. G (12.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg); Halee Nieman, 5-11 jr. F (12.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.3 spg); Hannah Heldt, 5-7 jr. G (10.9 ppg).
Outlook: After making both the Quarterfinals and Semifinals last season for the first time, Bullock Creek has done the same this winter while suffering its only loss against league co-runner-up Hemlock. Nieman, Juengel, Heldt and sophomore forward Alyssa Mudd all started last season when the Lancers fell in overtime to Flint Powers Catholic in the Semifinal. And they could take this Breslin run to three straight, with only two seniors and no starters graduating this spring.

PHOTO: Bullock Creek's Halee Nieman works to get around Flint Powers' Ally Haran (23) while the Lancers' Ellie Juengel (24) anticipates the play during the teams' 2013 Semifinal. 

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

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:

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.