By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
We’ve returned for the start of 2017 – and with plenty to review from the holiday break that featured top teams facing off in multi-day tournaments or one-day showcases especially in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas.
But our highlights this week powered by MI Student Aid aren’t reserved for teams from Michigan’s largest cities; high-performing squads from the southern border to Lake Superior’s shore gave us reasons to watch as we turned the calendar over to the new year.
Week in Review
The countdown of the holiday break's five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Country Day 55, Detroit Martin Luther King 46 – The Detroit area’s best-known powers hadn’t played each other in at least six seasons; the Class B Yellowjackets moved to 7-0 in downing the reigning Class A runner-up Crusaders (7-1).
2. Northville 62, Warren Cousino 51 – After a one-point loss to Dearborn on opening night, Northville has dominated, most recently winning its holiday invitational with this victory over the reigning Class A champion.
3. Holland Christian 43, Hudsonville 33 – The Maroons improved to 6-0 and won their holiday tournament with this victory over Hudsonville, previously undefeated and a Class A semifinalist last season. CORRECTION: Hudsonville actually won this game 61-43 to win the tournament and move to 7-0.
4. Detroit Martin Luther King 48, Muskegon Mona Shores 45 – The day after falling to Country Day, King came back with this close win over the Sailors, who are also expected to contend in Class A this season.
5. Dearborn Divine Child 54, Farmington Hills Mercy 39 – Mercy looks to be among the state’s best in Class A again, which is great news for a Divine Child program that also boasts plenty of tradition but is coming off a six-win season.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each class making sparks:
Clarkston (8-0) – The Wolves boys get a lot of attention, but the girls have won at least 15 games four of the last five seasons (going 15-6 last winter) and are more than halfway there after Motor City Roundball Classic victories over River Rouge (66-41) and Detroit Cass Tech (63-54).
Detroit East English (7-1) – The Bulldogs have dominated for the most part and already are closing in on equaling last season’s win total; their only loss was by four to one-loss Detroit Collegiate Prep, and they’ve won all over their other games by at least 20.
Manistee (6-2) – A Class B quarterfinalist last season, Manistee took losses to neighbors Big Rapids and Cadillac over the first two weeks but came back with a six-point win over Traverse City West and a two-pointer over Shelby during the break.
Olivet (5-1) – Save for an 84-80 shootout loss to Battle Creek Pennfield, the Eagles are again riding high after falling off just a bit to 13-9 last season. They dealt Galesburg-Augusta its only loss, 67-40, on Dec. 20.
Carson City-Crystal (4-2) – These Eagles might have one of the strongest two-loss records in the state, with those defeats by two to one-loss Merrill and six to undefeated and reigning Class D runner-up Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart; they kicked off the break with a 51-29 win over Saginaw Nouvel.
Ishpeming (5-0) – The Hematites, 10-9 a season ago, have opened with five double-digit wins including 61-49 over Calumet, the 2015 Class C champion, and 43-33 over rival Westwood last week.
Athens (4-1) – Regardless of a one-point overtime loss to Centreville on Dec. 12, Athens is more than on pace to equal its back-to-back 16-win seasons and most recently handed a 41-22 loss to Mendon – winner of 17 games a year ago.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (4-2) – The Defenders are another girls team often in the shadow of a boys program that has had statewide success, but coming off a Quarterfinal appearance last season they’re looking to make their name again and beat Class B Montague 48-42 to finish 2016.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Charlevoix (4-0) at St. Ignace (3-1) – Charlevoix is taking major strides led by a freshman standout, and will get a good gauge of that progress against the Class C-contending Saints in a preview of a possible postseason matchup.
Wednesday – Warren Cousino (4-2) at Port Huron Northern (7-0) – The Macomb Area Conference Red is loaded, with six teams including these two starting at least 4-2.
Thursday – Warren Cousino (4-2) at Grosse Pointe North (5-1) – See above; reigning Class A champion Cousino will take on strong league rivals on back-to-back nights.
Thursday – Ishpeming (5-0) at Norway (6-0) – First place in the Mid-Peninsula Conference as well as two perfect records will be on the line in the first of two matchups between these two this winter.
Friday – Merrill (6-1) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (5-0) – These two look to be the best of a strong Mid-State Activities Conference, won last season by the Irish while Merrill played in the Tri-Valley Conference West.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart pushes the ball upcourt during a 62-17 win over Beal City on Dec. 19. (Click to see more from 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.