Breslin Bound: Girls Report Week 2
December 16, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
By next Monday, many girls basketball teams in Michigan will have at least 20 percent of their regular-season games played.
Given last season’s results and players expected back this winter, many of the most impressive performances were expected. But surprise teams are emerging already as well – and building toward what could be an exciting 2020.
This week’s “Breslin Bound” again highlights teams from both groups. “Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. Send corrections or missing scores to Geoff@mhsaa.com.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Renaissance 49, East Kentwood 47 – After defeating Wayne Memorial by 34 on Friday in a Best of Michigan Classic first-day game, the Phoenix further cemented their status as one of the early teams to watch in Division 1 by edging the Falcons during the event’s second day.
2. East Lansing 49, Williamson 30 – The Trojans have loaded their nonleague schedule with title contenders, and the Hornets are among teams with high Division 2 hopes this winter.
3. Detroit Edison 59, Bolingbrook, Ill. 52 – Edison opened its Best of Michigan Classic two-day run with an impressive win against one of Illinois’ annual powers.
4. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 58, Grass Lake 55 – Carman-Ainsworth also has Division 1 aspirations this season, while Grass Lake looks like a team to beat in Division 3.
5. Howell 50, DeWitt 46 OT – The Highlanders finished just above .500 last season but are well on their way after defeating Midland Dow to start last week and finishing by avenging last season’s 10-point loss to the Panthers.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Ann Arbor Huron (5-0) Few if any teams can boast a more impressive group of early opponents, as Huron’s first five averaged 18 wins last season and included 2018-19 Division 1 semifinalists Muskegon and Wayne Memorial and Division 3 semifinalist Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. The River Rats finished 12-10 last season, but appear ready to make a major jump.
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (4-0) The Rockets have been one of the best from a strong lakeshore area for a few seasons, and fell to eventual Division 1 semifinalist Muskegon by just four points in last year’s District Final. Last week’s win 52-43 win over annual power Grand Haven might be telling of what’s to come; Reeths-Puffer fell to the Buccaneers by 25 a year ago.
Battle Creek Harper Creek (3-0) Last season’s 15-8 run included a District title, but also two losses to Marshall and another to Battle Creek Central. Harper Creek’s perfect start this winter has included a one-point win over BCC and Friday’s 38-30 victory over Marshall – during which Maddie Alexander scored her 1,000th career point.
Sault Ste. Marie (3-0) The Blue Devils always are solid – last season’s 13 wins were their fewest since winning 12 games in 2012-13. The early returns this winter indicate something more could be in store – after losing last season to Escanaba and splitting with Gaylord, Sault Ste. Marie this time beat the Eskymos by seven and Gaylord’s Blue Devils by 45.
Ann Arbor Greenhills (4-0) The Gryphons are one of few if not the only team that already has surpassed last season’s win total, stacking up four after finishing 2018-19 at 3-14. All four this winter have been by nine points or more, with the 48-38 opening win over Westland Huron Valley Lutheran a 25-point swing from last season’s first-night meeting.
Gwinn (2-0) The Modeltowners opened their season last week, and what a week to remember. First came a 61-58 double-overtime win over Bark River-Harris – avenging last year’s 10-point loss. That was followed by Friday’s 50-40 victory over Iron Mountain – which the Marquette Mining Journal reported was Gwinn’s first win in a conference opener since 2010-11. The Modeltowners finished 12-10 last winter.
Plymouth Christian Academy (3-0) The initial spark may have lit during the 2018 postseason, as the Eagles entered 5-15 and advanced to a Regional Final. They improved to 12-8 overall last winter, and have opened this season in part by avenging last year’s losses to Division 1 Canton and Livonia Franklin.
St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (4-0) Fast starts are nothing new to the Titans – they won their first 10 games last season and 11 of their first 12 in 2017-18. But that doesn’t make this early surge any less notable – four wins by an average of 31.5 points, a pretty great way to build on last season’s 18-3 finish.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Okemos (2-2) at Hartland (2-0) – The Eagles have opened with wins over two reigning Finals champions in Saginaw Heritage and Adrian Lenawee Christian, while Okemos’ two losses are by a combined five points.
Tuesday – Marquette (4-2) at Negaunee (3-1) – Marquette won 20 games last season and Negaunee won 16, with their first meeting going to the Miners by five and their second to the Redettes by a point.
Wednesday – Grass Lake (4-1) at Michigan Center (3-1) – Grass Lake was first and Michigan Center second in the Cascades Conference last season, but Michigan Center then defeated Grass Lake to win a District title.
Thursday – Midland Dow (2-1) at Midland (4-0) – Dow won last season’s three meetings by an average of 31 points, but Midland has nearly equaled last winter’s win total with an impressive start.
Friday – East Lansing (3-0) at DeWitt (2-1) – One of the state’s top rivalries saw the Division 1 powers split their two meetings and the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title last season.
Second Half’s weekly “Breslin Bound” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: A pair of Bridgeport defenders wall off the lane during Friday’s 57-50 overtime loss to Alma. (Click for more from 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.