Breslin Bound: Girls Quarterfinal Preview
March 16, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Five teams in Tuesday's Quarterfinals have reached the final week of the MHSAA girls basketball season for the first time.
But the celebrations are just getting started.
See below for a glance at all 16 Quarterfinal games to determine which teams advance to this weekend's final rounds at Michigan State University's Breslin Center. All quarters tip off at 7 p.m. unless noted.
DeWitt (23-1) vs. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (17-8) at Charlotte
Four seniors starters have guided DeWitt to its first Quarterfinal since 2009 in Class B. Despite having no player taller than 5-foot-10, the Panthers are the tough matchup because of their versatility and balance led by senior guard Claudia Reid (10.3 points, 6.5 assists per game) and senior forward Abby Nakfoor (12 ppg, five rebounds per game). Forest Hills Central has won its first Regional title in its first season under former East Grand Rapids star Kelvin Grady. Senior center Sophia Sanfilipo will stand the tallest in this game at 5-11 and averages 13.1 points and nine rebounds per game.
Hartland (18-6) vs. Saginaw Heritage (21-3) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth
Hartland rebounded from three losses over its final five regular-season games to win its first Regional championship as well. Sophomore forward Lexey Tobel (12.1 ppg) leads five players averaging at least five points per game. Heritage will play in its second Quarterfinal in three seasons to make its first Semifinal since 2002, when it won Class A. The Hawks might be even more balanced than Hartland – six players average at least six points per game, but not score 10.
Bloomfield Hills Marian (23-1) vs. Waterford Kettering (23-1) at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore
The reigning Class A champion, Marian hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since last season’s Detroit Catholic League Final; its only loss this season was the Chicago Whitney Young by four Jan 17. The Mustangs beat four teams still alive this week. Kettering has won two Regional titles in four seasons and at least 20 games three of the four, and probably couldn’t imagine a more impressive way to break through to the Semifinals for the first time since 2000. Senior forward Lauren Tewes leads five players scoring at least eight points per game, with 10.6 ppg.
Romulus (18-5) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (23-1) at Dearborn Fordson
The Romulus girls have caught up to the powerhouse boys program with Regional titles the last two seasons, and they did so this time despite falling in three or their final four regular-season games. The team has eight seniors, and guard Jayla Nichols leads at 12.1 ppg. It may be tough to believe, but King hasn’t made the Semifinals since its last title run in 2006. The Crusaders are always in the mix and lost this season only to Marian, by a point, in the regular-season finale. Guard Janae Williams leads a strong group that includes six seniors.
Benton Harbor (19-5) vs. Flat Rock (21-3) at Eaton Rapids
The Tigers have improved their win total every season of five under coach Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick and are led by her daughters, Miss Basketball finalist and Michigan State University recruit Kalabrya (17.9 points, 8.1 assists per game) and junior forward Kysre (27.5 points, 10.6 rebounds per game). Flat Rock also has a parent/daughters combination with coach Marc Villemure, 6-foot-1 senior guard Paige (14.6 points, 3.8 blocks per game) and 6-1 junior forward Morgan (13.3 points, 6.5 rebounds per game). They helped the team to its first Regional title.
Haslett (20-5) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (23-2) at Wayland
The Vikings have pointed toward this season after most of the same group made it to the Class A Regional Finals last season. Four Haslett girls score in double digits led by senior forward Makenna Ott, who missed nine games through the middle of the season with an injury but brings 13.2 points per game to the lineup – Haslett lost only once with her this winter. GRCC has been surging with 13 straight wins since falling to rival Wayland, which Haslett beat in the Regional Final (and GRCC beat in their second meeting by 22 points). The Cougars have won District titles all three of coach Trevor Hinshaw’s seasons and are returning to the final week for the first time since 2012.
Goodrich (24-1) vs. Manistee (23-1) at Mount Pleasant
Goodrich just missed the Quarterfinals last season but is back for the fifth time in six and after winning back-to-back Class B titles in 2012 and 2013. Senior Tania Davis (19.1 ppg) and junior Alexis Sevillian (15.6 ppg) make up one of the strongest backcourts in the state; Davis was named Miss Basketball on Monday. Manistee is an incredible 45-2 over the last two seasons and in its first Quarterfinal since 1994. It avenged its lone loss, to Traverse City West, in a rematch Feb. 20.
Dearborn Divine Child (20-5) vs. Detroit Country Day (19-4) at Marysville
Subtract three losses to reigning Class A champion Bloomfield Hills Marian, and Divine Child’s record looks even better – Dearborn Heights Robichaud (17-3) was the only postseason opponent of five to come within 15 points of the Falcons, who are led by senior guard Riley Blair (15.5 ppg). Country Day started this season with 11 straight wins before losing four of its next six – but against some of the best teams in Class A and a Class C favorite. The Yellowjackets came back to beat Haslett during the final week of the regular season and haven’t been challenged during the MHSAA tournament as they pursue their first championship since 2009.
Tawas (21-4) vs. Calumet (21-2) at Petoskey
Tawas is back in the final week for the first time since 2003 and after finishing only 8-11 a year ago. Senior guard Jenna Szostak leads three players scoring in double figures with 19.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Calumet is making its first trip to the Quarterfinals since 1977 and is two losses by a combined 12 points to Class B Houghton from a perfect record. The Copper Kings have won at least 15 games three straight season.
Niles Brandywine (23-1) vs. Laingsburg (25-0) at Comstock Park
Niles Brandywine will play in its fifth Quarterfinal in six seasons, seeking its first Semifinal berth since 2010. The Bobcats are an incredible 138-9 under coach Josh Hood over those six seasons and lost this winter only to Class A Kalamazoo Central. Junior forward Makenna Hartline is the leading scorer at 14.4 ppg. Laingsburg has made its first Quarterfinal with a balanced approach – only junior guard Lindsey Smith (11.2) averages more than eight points per game. The Wolfpack beat four teams this postseason that had won at least 17 games.
Homer (21-4) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (21-3) at Michigan Center
Homer finished runner-up in the Big 8 Conference and continued into its first Quarterfinal appearance since 1982 – and despite finishing only 10-11 a year ago. Arbor Prep will play in its second straight Quarterfinal with a chance to win 22 games for the second straight as well despite a schedule loaded with Class A and B teams including three still playing this week. The team has only three seniors, but all three start. Junior guard Nastassja Chambers leads, scoring 15.3 points per game.
Saginaw Nouvel (19-6) vs. Flint Hamady (23-1) at Davison
Nouvel, the reigning Class C champion, has faced plenty of challenging opponents in all four classes this season, although Hamady should be one of the toughest with a combined record of 47-2 over the last two seasons. Junior guard Jalisha Terry has plenty of experience on the winning side in her third season on varsity, while Nouvel junior guard Laurel Jacqmain scores 18.9 points per game and also was the Cougars’ leading scorer in last season’s MHSAA Final.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (21-1) vs. Pittsford (24-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek
Michigan Lutheran has won an incredible 19 straight league titles and six District crowns in seven seasons, but added their first Regional title since 2004 last week. The lone loss was early to Frankfort, also a quarterfinalist, and senior guard Hailey Maas leads three scorers averaging double figures at 14.5 ppg. Pittsford has been the lone undefeated Class D team since midseason and will be making its first Quarterfinal appearance – but is a combined 62-7 over the last three seasons. Sophomores Maddie Clark and Jaycie Burger lead with 19.4 and 17.9 points per game, respectively.
Waterford Our Lady (11-12) vs. Kingston (21-3) at Warren Mott, 6 p.m.
Our Lady followed up its run of four straight Class D championship games from 2010-13 with a sub-.500 finish last season, but can get back to even this winter by continuing this surprise run. The Lakers likely are on the rise for the next few seasons, as no starter this winter is a senior, and with freshman Tiffany Senerius and junior Alex Troy (both 10 points per game) their leading scorers. Kingston won its second Regional title ever and first since 2003, and benefits from a balanced starting lineup with four starters scoring 8.8-11.5 points per game, including seniors Jenna Boyl and Cassidy McGuire.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (20-4) vs. Frankfort (23-1) at Traverse City Central
The reigning champion Irish have a similar but more veteran look after graduating only one senior from last season’s team. Sacred Heart this time has six seniors including 2014 tournament heroes Averi Gamble (16 ppg) at center and Riley Terwilliger (9.5 ppg) at guard. Frankfort hopes to take the next step after also reaching the Quarterfinals last season. Junior guard Mackenna Kelly leads with 17.1 points per game, and sophomore Cecelia Schmitt adds 13.5.
St. Ignace (19-5) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (21-4) at Negaunee
This is a matchup of 2014 Finals runners-up – Forest Park from Class D and St. Ignace formerly of Class C. The Trojans are back in the final week despite graduating Miss Basketball winner Lexi Gussert last spring; three senior starters and first-year coach Jackie Giuliani have led this team to its fourth straight Quarterfinal. The Saints are seeking their sixth straight trip to the Semifinals and have a pair of standout scorers in junior forward Abbey Ostman (16.6 ppg) and senior guard Margo Brown (13.8 ppg, 51 3-pointers).
PHOTO: Detroit Martin Luther King defeated Grosse Pointe South during last week's Regional. (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Public School League.)
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.