Breslin Bound: Girls Districts in Review

March 5, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Special to Second Half

The most-used coach cliche' this time of year revolves around the difficulty for a team to beat an opponent a third time in the playoffs after sweeping said opponent during the regular season. 

But those words of wisdom played out in more than a few cases during girls basketball Districts last week. 

See below for four champs from each class whose performances were particularly notable, including a handful that beat opponents after being swept by them earlier this winter. Records are based on results submitted for each team through the MHSAA Score Center

Class A

Canton (16-6) – Defense has been the name of the game lately for the Chiefs, who have given up exactly 23 points in each of their last three. Although the first was a regular-season finale loss to Waterford Kettering, the most recent was a 29-23 District final win over also 16-6 Northville.

Detroit Martin Luther King (20-0) – The Crusaders navigated one of the toughest District brackets in Class A to remain undefeated, beating Detroit Public School League runner-up Detroit Cass Tech 46-35 and then in the final Detroit Pershing, 66-38. King had beaten Cass Tech in the PSL Final only two weeks before.

Grand Ledge (19-4) – Much was expected of the resurgent Comets heading into this winter, but powerhouse East Lansing still stood in the way and swept them during the regular season. But Grand Ledge got a big one back, beating the Trojans 51-49 in the District final.

Saginaw Heritage (14-8) – The Hawks 53-44 District final win over Midland Dow might’ve been their best postseason victory in close to a decade. Heritage finished second in the Saginaw Valley Association North this season, but Dow finished first and was 21-0 entering the game.

Class B

Flint Powers Catholic (17-6) – The Chargers are back after finishing below .500 and falling in their District opener last season. Five of their six losses this winter were to Class A teams – the sixth coming to Class B Livonia Ladywood in their opener – and Powers is on a 14-1 streak.

Jackson Northwest (17-6) – The most impressive win of last week’s District run was the first, 47-38 in the opener over Eaton Rapids. The Greyhounds finished 18-3 and had beaten Northwest by 14 and 29 points this season in winning the Capital Area Activities Conference Gold – while Northwest finished third in that league.

River Rouge (14-6) – The Panthers won their District games by 30, 20 and then five points, respectively. The best win certainly came in the championship game, 57-52 over Dearborn Divine Child, an MHSAA Semifinalist last season.

Stevensville-Lakeshore (15-7) – The Lancers added another step to their success of 2011-12, this time winning a District title and doing so by beating a strong Benton Harbor team 60-59 in the championship game. Benton Harbor beat Lakeshore by 14 and 18 during the regular season.

Class C

Carson City-Crystal (20-2) – The Eagles last lost on Dec. 20, to Central Michigan Athletic Conference co-champion Portland St. Patrick. But Carson City-Crystal eliminated the other winner of that league title, Pewamo-Westphalia, 35-29 in last week’s District final. P-W finished 18-5.

Ishpeming (16-6) – The Hematites and Negaunee tied for the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference championship, but Ishpeming earned some final bragging rights last week by beating Negaunee, at Negaunee, 45-41 to claim the District title.

Michigan Center (15-8) – The Cardinals finished only fourth in a strong Cascades Conference, but beat third-place Grass Lake in the District semifinal before downing Concord 41-36 for the championship. Concord, which finished 18-4, beat Michigan Center by four early this season and made the MHSAA Semifinals in 2012.

Shelby (19-3) – The West Michigan Conference champion is two wins better than last season and continued to roll through some close games last week – a 41-39 win over Holton in the District semifinal and a 55-47 win over Hart in the championship game.

Class D

Fulton-Middleton (12-9) – The Pirates finished sixth in the always-strong Central Michigan Athletic Conference. But they beat co-champion – and 2012 Class D Semifinalist – Portland St. Patrick in the District final, 58-54 in triple overtime. Before that, Fulton beat CMAC fourth-place Fowler 53-45.

Pickford (15-6) – The Panthers shared the Eastern UP Athletic Conference championship with DeTour this season, and added another championship by edging Rudyard 28-24 in the District final. Pickford fell in last season’s District final to Brimley, which it beat during last week’s semifinals.

Powers North Central (15-8) – The Jets closed the regular season with two losses and were swept this season by Skyline Conference rival Bark River-Harris. But North Central got one back in their third and final meeting of the winter, beating the Broncos 70-68 in their District final.

Waterford Our Lady (17-4) – The reigning three-time MHSAA champion also lost its final two regular season games. But the Lakers escaped a close District final against Bloomfield Hills Roeper, winning 44-40, to continue their pursuit of a fourth-straight title. 

PHOTOS: Gaylord players celebrate last week's Class A District championship. The Blue Devils (14-9) edged Traverse City West 31-26 in overtime and now will face reigning Class A champion Grand Haven. (Photo courtesy of the Gaylord Herald Times

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.)