By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The final week of the 2016-17 girls basketball season begins tonight with all four of last year's champions still alive for titles this winter, but with a twist.
Reigning Class C winner Ypsilanti Arbor Prep is now in Class B, but is undefeated, as is reigning Class D champ Pittsford. Warren Cousino in Class A and Marshall in Class B also are only three more wins from celebrating again – but challengers abound.
Our final girls basketball Breslin Bound report – powered by MI Student Aid – takes a glance at all 16 Quarterfinals, which are all at 7 p.m. tonight unless noted. All Quarterfinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription on MHSAA.tv. And come back Wednesday night for a more in-depth look at our 16 finalists as they head into this weekend – and make their long-awaited arrivals at the Breslin Center.
Farmington Hills Mercy (22-3) vs. Warren Cousino (23-2) at Southfield Arts & Technology
Reigning champion Cousino has won 18 straight and is led again by last season’s Finals hero, senior guard and Miss Basketball Award finalist Kierra Fletcher (22.7 points, 13 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 5.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per game). Mercy, the Detroit Catholic League A-B champion, has dominated with balanced contributions from a trio of guards, seniors Chloe Godbold (10.9 ppg) and Jackie Bauer (9.0 ppg) and junior Jenna Schluter (7.5 ppg, 4.5 apg.)
Macomb Dakota (19-6) vs. Flushing (21-3) at Davison
Dakota is playing in its first Quarterfinal and Flushing its first since 2009. The Cougars surprised expected contender Port Huron Northern on the way to winning its first District since 2013. The Raiders have eclipsed 20 wins for the second time in three seasons led by senior guard Lauren Newman (10.9 ppg) and junior guard Shelby Morrow (11.3 ppg).
Kalamazoo Central (20-3) vs. East Kentwood (24-1) at Lansing Eastern
The Maroon Giants also are playing in their first Quarterfinal and have won 19 of their last 20 games – the latest over 21-win East Lansing in the Regional Final. East Kentwood is 10 wins better than a year ago with its only loss Dec. 2 to Class B quarterfinalist Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Junior center Lazurea Saunders leads four players averaging double figures scoring at 14 ppg.
Ann Arbor Huron (20-5) at Southfield Arts & Technology (21-4), 5:30 p.m.
Southfield Arts & Technology pulled off one of the stunning wins of the postseason, downing arguably the Class A favorite Detroit Martin Luther King 55-51 in the Regional Final. But the Warriors have been considered serious contenders as well, led by Miss Basketball candidate Deja Church (20.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg). Huron has won 11 straight with a victory over Class B power Detroit Country Day and had earlier wins over Dakota and Class B quarterfinalist Detroit Mumford.
Detroit Mumford (18-7) vs. Detroit Country Day (23-1) at Marysville
Country Day has won 19 straight Regional titles and made the Semifinals the last two seasons, winning Class B in 2015. Miss Basketball finalist Destiny Pitts averages 22.7 points and has made 71 3-pointers this winter, while junior Kaela Webb averages 14.6 ppg. Mumford is making a second straight Quarterfinal appearance after also facing Country Day in this round last season. The Mustangs have won 10 of their last 12 games and all during the postseason by 20 or more points.
Marshall (22-2) vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (24-1) at Otsego
Reigning Class B champion Marshall has won 11 straight since falling to GRCC 42-34 on Jan. 28. Four starters from last season’s Redhawks team are trying to lead them back to Breslin in this rematch of last season’s Quarterfinal. GRCC’s only loss came on opening night to Class A Muskegon Mona Shores, and the Cougars are 70-7 over the last three seasons going into tonight as they pursue their first Semifinal since 2012.
Williamston (23-1) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (25-0) at Brighton
Arbor Prep moved into Class B this season after winning Class C in 2016 and has continued to win with stifling defense, holding opponents to under 30 points 11 times this winter. Senior Adrienne Anderson leads three guards scoring in double figures, averaging 13.7 ppg, and Ro'zhane Wells (10.6 ppg) also started last season. Williamston owns wins over Marshall and East Lansing with a loss only to Port Huron Northern. The Hornets boast only two seniors, making them scary opponents both this week and next season.
Freeland (25-0) vs. Cadillac (19-5) at Big Rapids, 6 p.m.
The Falcons are back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 after winning their sixth straight District title as well. Senior forward Jenna Gregory leads a balanced lineup scoring 10 points per game. Cadillac is coming off its first Regional title in girls basketball and has upped its win total the last two seasons. Senior 6-foot center Kylie Christensen has been a force with 18.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
Blissfield (23-2) vs. Detroit Edison PSA (18-5) at Ypsilanti Community, 6:30 p.m.
Blissfield has its third 20-win season and second Quarterfinal berth over the last four years, with its only losses this winter to Class B Bay City John Glenn and Class A Utica Ford. Senior guard Kelsey Wyman (22.9 ppg, 7.1 apg) leads a team trying to make the Semifinals for the first time since 1973. DEPSA loaded its schedule and has lost only to Class A and B teams, with impressive wins over Mumford and Flint Hamady highlighting the slate. There are no seniors but nine freshmen among 12 players total; 6-3 sophomore guard Rickea Jackson and freshman guard Gabrielle Elliott both score just more than 17 points per game.
Flint Hamady (18-5) vs. Hemlock (21-4) at Saginaw Heritage
Hamady will play in a Quarterfinal for the third straight season and fourth in five seasons as it pursues its first Class C title since 2010. The Hawks have only one senior starter, meaning this run shouldn’t end any time soon. Hemlock won its second Regional title after also advancing to this point in 2011. The Huskies have only two seniors, both starting guards, with Samantha Krauss averaging 18.1 ppg.
Schoolcraft (20-5) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2) at Portage Northern, 6:30 p.m.
Schoolcraft earned its first Regional title last week, avenging its most recent loss in the Regional Semifinal, and has made a jump of four victories from a year ago. Pewamo-Westphalia will return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 after getting through arguably the toughest Class C District in the state. Junior forward Emily Spitzley leads three averaging at least eight points per game at 13.2 ppg.
Maple City Glen Lake (22-3) vs. St. Ignace (22-2) at Gaylord
St. Ignace has a run of eight straight Regional titles; six times during that run the Saints also made the Semifinals, and five times they advanced to the championship game of that class. Junior 6-1 guard Linnie Gustafson leads three scoring in double figures at 14.5 ppg. Glen Lake also has a long history of Regional titles, but last week's was its first since 2001. The Lakers are over 20 wins for the second straight season with junior forward Jennifer LaCross and senior guard Kelly Bunek leading at just more than 10 points per game.
Engadine (18-5) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (20-4) at Negaunee
Engadine has added to its win total every season over the last four and last week claimed its first Regional title since 2005. Freshman guard Sophia Vaughn is the lead scorer at 18.3 ppg. Forest Park lost out on a league title in the regular-season finale, but avenged that defeat to Bark River-Harris in the Regional Final to make the Quarterfinals for the fifth time in six seasons. Senior guard Abby Nylund leads at 14 ppg.
Waterford Our Lady (19-5) vs. Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (16-9) at Burton Bendle, 6 p.m.
Our Lady won its sixth Regional title in seven seasons and after making the Semifinals last year. Junior Tiffany Senerius leads again as the only starter back from last season’s team. MLS is in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 and seeking its first Semifinal appearance. Sophomore forward Meghan Blaine averages 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and senior center Rylee Pankow helps with the post power with 10.1 ppg and 9.1 rpg.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (23-2) vs. Pittsford (25-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek
Pittsford is three wins from a second straight perfect season as star seniors Jaycie Burger (19.2 ppg, 5.3 apg) and Maddie Clark (16.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg) finish up championship careers. Michigan Lutheran won its second Regional title in this sport and first since 2004. Its only losses were to Class A St. Joseph and Class B Buchanan. Senior guard Emily Witkowski averages 19.3 ppg.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (24-1) vs. Frankfort (16-9) at Buckley
Last season’s Class D runner-up has a more guard-driven look and no seniors, but Sacred Heart has been just as successful with its only loss a three-pointer to league rival Carson City-Crystal. Junior forward Sophie Ruggles and sophomore guard Scout Nelson average 14 and 13.5 ppg, respectively. Frankfort has won 10 of its last 11 games to make the Quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons. Senior forward Cecelia Schmitt averages 17.9 points and nine rebounds per game.
PHOTO: Pewamo-Westphalia pushes the ball upcourt during its District win over Carson City-Crystal two weeks ago. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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:
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.