Breslin Bound: Girls Regional Preview
March 8, 2016
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament field was reduced from more than 700 to 128 last week with a number of the expected contenders moving on – and few of the unexpected joining the group as well.
See below for four teams from each class that jumped out as we watched Districts finish up and anticipated the start of Regionals tonight. Click for brackets for all 32 and stay with Score Center tonight for scores and updated matchups.
Dearborn (16-7) – The Pioneers saw a two-season league title streak end, but have improved four wins from a year ago and won their District with a 56-51 victory over Allen Park – which finished 18-4. Dearborn has won 12 of its last 14 games.
East Lansing (17-6) – The Trojans emerged from a District that featured the reigning runners-up in Class A (DeWitt) and B (Haslett), downing Haslett 60-42 in an opener, then rival Grand Ledge 52-36 before beating surprise Lansing Waverly in the Final; 57-41. The Trojans have won 10 straight.
Saginaw Heritage (21-1) – The Hawks’ season looked like it might get away when they fell to Midland Dow 48-40 on Feb. 12 after the team lost standout Jaela Richardson to injury for the rest of the season. But Heritage has rebounded to win six straight and beat Dow 42-32 in the District Final.
Southfield Lathrup (20-3) – The win in the District Final, 56-28 over Southfield, was significant in that the two schools will merge into one after this school year and Southfield was a league champion this winter. But on the way, the Chargers also beat two more league champs in Berkley and Detroit Renaissance.
Alma (11-10) – The Panthers entered the postseason with a sub-.500 record, but opened last week with an overtime upset of Belding (which beat Alma in the District last season) and then won the title with a 15-point clincher over Shepherd.
Freeland (20-3) – The Tri-Valley Conference Central champion won its ninth straight game in a nail-biter, beating league rival Saginaw Swan Valley 56-53 in double overtime for the District title. The Falcons had beaten the Vikings by only six and five points during the regular season.
Reed City (11-11) – The record may not jump out, but the Coyotes are leaps and bounds better than 2014-15, when they finished 0-21. Reed City tied for fourth in the Central State Activities Association Gold this winter, but beat co-champion Big Rapids in the opener before edging Clare 48-47 in the Final.
Stevensville Lakeshore (19-2) – The Lancers won their first District title since 2013 with a 57-35 win over Benton Harbor, holding Tigers star Kysre Gondrezick to a still-impressive 24 points after she had scored an MHSAA-record 72 in a double-overtime District-opening win a few days earlier.
Gobles (22-0) – The Tigers nearly saw their perfect run end against a familiar foe, surviving a 65-62 triple-overtime thriller against Hartford in the District Final. Gobles had beaten Hartford, which finished 15-8, 61-18 and 62-28 during the regular season.
Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (16-5) – Last week ended much differently than District week in 2015. Covenant Christian opened with a 45-19 win over Grandville Calvin Christian, a league champion and the team that eliminated the Chargers last year. They then won 54-18 over a Saugatuck team that finished 18-5.
Iron Mountain (14-8) – The Mountaineers repeated as District champs in something of an unexpected scenario. Iron Mountain met up with Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference foe Norway for the third time, and this time won 51-40 after falling 63-37 and 79-45 in the regular-season meetings.
Traverse City St. Francis (22-1) – The Lake Michigan Conference champion hadn’t crossed paths this season with Northwest Conference champion Maple City Glen Lake, but ended the Lakers’ season at 20-3 with a 62-55 win in the District championship game after beating 15-win Elk Rapids in the Semifinal.
Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner (18-3) – The annual Mid-South Conference power took another step this season, winning its league again and then its District with a 42-35 victory over Adrian Lenawee Christian; the Storm fell in its first District game in 2015.
Athens (16-7) – After closing the regular season with three losses in its final four games, Athens is back in familiar territory thanks to a 51-49 overtime District Final win over Mendon – which finished 17-4. Athens also beat Mendon for a District title last season.
Bellevue (17-6) – The Broncos continue to improve under former Eaton Rapids standout Kayla Whitmyer and are four wins better than a season ago. Bellevue beat Battle Creek St. Philip 36-30 in the District Final a week after falling 40-36 to the Tigers amid a three-losses-in-four-game skid.
Fruitport Calvary Christian (19-3) – One more win will give Calvary Christian 20 for the third straight season, but would mean much more than that; also for the third straight season, the Eagles meet Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in a Regional Semifinal and have lost the last two meetings.
PHOTO: Reed City and Clare players scramble for a loose ball during Reed City’s one-point District Final win last week. (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.