Breslin Bound: Girls District Preview
February 29, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The girls basketball season starts over for every MHSAA team today as 128 Districts tip off all over the state.
Below is a look at four teams from each class that look good to be in the hunt when the final 16 converge on East Lansing in three weeks. Follow all of the scores and brackets in real time at MHSAA.com, and click for a glance at every team with three or fewer losses heading into the postseason.
Detroit Martin Luther King (17-1) – The Crusaders are annually in this conversation and defeated reigning champion Bloomfield Hills Marian last week to add a little more to the momentum. The only loss was in December to Detroit Renaissance, and King came back to beat Renaissance 68-66 in the Detroit Public School League Tournament championship game. King made the Class A Semifinals last season before falling the Marian.
Flushing (18-2) – It’s been a strong follow-up to last season’s 24-1 finish. After opening this season with losses to Saginaw Heritage and Midland Dow, Flushing hasn’t experienced defeat again – but has celebrated some significant victories including over Renaissance, Flint Carman-Ainsworth (15-5) and Class C Flint Hamady (18-1).
Saginaw Heritage (19-1) – The Hawks looked like strong favorites before losing sophomore forward Jaela Richardson to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, and then taking their only loss to Midland Dow right after. But Heritage has bounced back with four straight wins including over Carman-Ainsworth last week and still has plenty of talent and the experience of beating Flushing, Country Day, Dow (17-3) and making last season’s run to the Class A Semifinals.
Southfield Lathrup (17-3) – A loss or two more than the other favorites doesn’t mean much, considering the defeats came to Bay City John Glenn, Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Detroit Country Day, all mentioned among Class B favorites below. The Chargers have 10 wins against teams with at least 13 victories, and finished 21-2 last season losing to Marian during the Regional.
Bay City John Glenn (19-1) – Aside from a three-point loss to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep on Feb. 6, John Glenn has been unstoppable with only two more games in single digits (wins over Southfield Lathrup and Class C Saginaw Nouvel). Most of the Bobcats' toughest games came nonleague at the beginning of the year, but they finished up last week with Class A Saginaw Arthur Hill and a 13-point win over Nouvel (after beating the Panthers by only four Dec. 16).
Detroit Country Day (18-1) – The Yellowjackets have beaten their usual slate of strong teams including Arbor Prep, Haslett, Detroit Renaissance, Midland Dow and Marysville. The only loss was to Saginaw Heritage on Dec. 29, and the reigning Class B champions bounced back for a perfect 2016 so far.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central (17-2) – The Cougars closed the regular season by avenging an earlier loss to Grand Rapids South Christian, earning a shared Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold championship with the Sailors. GRCC also fell to Class A Grand Rapids Christian, but has 10 wins over Class A schools, including 69-62 over Southfield-Lathrup on Dec. 12.
Marshall (19-1) – One more win would give Marshall its second straight and third in four seasons with at least 20 victories, and the slate was anything but easy. After falling to Williamston (17-3) in their opener, the Redhawks rattled off 11 wins against teams with 10 or more victories, including Otsego (17-3), Battle Creek Harper Creek (15-5) twice and Class A Jackson Northwest (18-2) also twice to win a strong Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
Calumet (20-0) – The reigning Class C champion has done two better, at least during the regular season, finishing undefeated by sweeping Class B Houghton – which beat Calumet twice a year ago. Total, the Copper Kings have 12 wins against teams with at least 10 victories, and only Houghton and Hancock (16-4) have come within single digits of catching them. Calumet starts District play tonight against Hancock on Hancock’s home floor.
Gobles (20-0) – The Tigers haven’t lost a regular-season game since Feb. 21, 2013, and made the Class C Semifinals in 2014 thanks in part to a strong group of now-seniors looking to return next month in their final try. Among the most impressive wins this fall were a sweep of Saugatuck (16-4) and a 10-point win over Class B Otsego.
Napoleon (20-0) – The Pirates took another step after last season’s 13-win and District title season by running through a Cascades Conference that had three more teams win at least 12 games. Napoleon hasn’t had a single-digit game since beating Manchester in overtime Dec. 15, and also picked up a nice win last week over Class B Brooklyn Columbia Central (17-3).
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (18-2) – Arbor Prep gets the slight edge on Traverse City St. Francis as the only team not undefeated to be mentioned here because of a slightly tougher schedule (although the Gladiators’ was quite strong as well). Arbor Prep’s only losses were to Class A Ann Arbor Huron (15-4) and Country Day (18-1). And the Gators have six wins over Class A teams including Marian, plus beat Bay City John Glenn 50-47 on Feb. 6.
Bark River-Harris (19-1) – The Broncos have followed up last season’s 18-2 regular-season finish by going one win better, and now hope to build on that District title from a year ago. The only loss came to Munising – the team that eliminated Bark River-Harris in last season’s Regional Semifinal – and only two weeks ago. But the Broncos do have seven wins over teams with at least 11 victories, including beating Stephenson (18-2) in their only meeting and Crystal Falls Forest Park (16-4) twice.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (18-1) – The Irish are seeking their second Class D championship in three seasons and have one of the top post players regardless of class in Averi Gamble. Sacred Heart plays Big Rapids Crossroads Academy (18-1) on Wednesday, but beat Crossroads 54-24 on Jan. 4 and owns impressive wins over Class C Beaverton, Morley Stanwood and Carson City-Crystal with the only loss to Saginaw Nouvel.
Newberry (19-1) – The Indians already are six wins better than last season, when they went out of the tournament in their first District game. Newberry also is on one of the strongest surges in the state thanks in large part to a 54-50 win over Class C contender St. Ignace on Feb. 18 that gave the Indians the Straits Area Conference title to go with an outright championship in the Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference. Newberry also swept Class B Sault Ste. Marie (15-5).
Pittsford (20-0) – After suffering its only loss last season, and in overtime, to St. Ignace in the Class D Final, Pittsford is the likely favorite after another dominating run. While the Wildcats played mostly Class D teams over a 16-game league schedule in the Southern Central Athletic Association, they also posted solid wins over Class A Belleville and Class C Manchester – and had only one game in single digits, a 71-62 win over Class C Grass Lake on Dec. 8.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart’s Averi Gamble, here attempting a free throw, will lead one of the top teams in Class D into the tournament for the final time. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 18, 2023
EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.
Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.
“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”
The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.
“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”
It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.
“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”
Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.
The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.
“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”
Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game.
That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.
The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.
“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”
Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.
“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”
Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.
Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic.
“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”
PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.