By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This week will see the midpoint of this 2019-20 girls basketball season, a logical time to take a look at who has done what with half the schedule played for many teams.
But there’s little time to pause with a number of potential league-shaping games coming up over the next five days. Some are noted below in our “Can’t-Miss Contests,” while another 5-6 surely will guide which teams we feature in next week’s report.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Detroit Edison 65, East Lansing 48 – These two could again end up at Finals weekend in March in Divisions 2 and 1, respectively, and reigning D2 champ Edison pulled away in this one to hand the Trojans their lone defeat.
2. Farmington Hills Mercy 46, Bloomfield Hills Marian 34 – The Marlins handed rival Marian its first Detroit Catholic League Central loss since 2017-18, taking a slight lead in the league standings with the rematch Jan. 28.
3. Manton 58, Maple City Glen Lake 54 – The Rangers moved to 8-0 and also got a look at another top Division 3 team they may see again at tournament time.
4. Frankenmuth 58, Essexville Garber 22 – Frankenmuth reached 900 wins as a program, going back to 1973, and with another win Friday the Eagles moved to 901-179 all-time midway through their 47th season.
5. Saline 40, Dexter 18 – These two may both end up Southeastern Conference champions in separate divisions, and Dexter’s was the first loss between them this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Macomb Dakota (8-0) The Macomb Area Conference Red annually is considered one of the most competitive leagues statewide. Dakota has a slight hold on first place thanks to playing one more league game than Grosse Pointe South so far and also after a 52-45 win over contender Utica Eisenhower on Friday. Dakota plays Grosse Pointe South for the first time this Friday.
West Bloomfield (7-2) The Lakers were Oakland Activities Association White champions last season, and after changing divisions have taken the higher-regarded OAA Red by storm. West Bloomfield last week handed first league losses this season to reigning Red champion Southfield Arts & Technology and third-place Clarkston, and can finish the first half of the league schedule undefeated with a win this Friday over reigning Red runner-up Royal Oak.
Frankenmuth (7-1) The Eagles, coming off a third-place finish in the Tri-Valley Conference East last season, are first in the new-look league this winter and coming off a milestone win (see above). They’ve dealt the only loss this winter to one of the second-place teams, Standish-Sterling, and take on the other second-place team Freeland on Friday. Frankenmuth’s lone loss was 59-52 to Division 1 power DeWitt.
Marine City (8-1) After finishing third in the Macomb Area Conference Gold last season, as St. Clair won the league title, Marine City is making a move as it leads the league coming off Friday’s 54-28 win over the Saints. The Mariners could equal last season’s 13 wins by the end of this month – and their lone loss was to MAC Blue leader Macomb L’Anse Creuse North a month ago.
Centreville (8-0) The Bulldogs have won 45 straight regular-season games and three straight league titles, and have opened up a one-game lead on Decatur and Bloomingdale this winter in the Southwest 10 Conference. Centreville defeated Bloomingdale 44-33 last week and sees Decatur for the first of two meetings Tuesday. That 11-point win over the Cardinals was the closest any of the first six league opponents has come to catching the Bulldogs.
Schoolcraft (5-1) These Eagles opened with a loss to now one-loss Edwardsburg, but haven’t fallen since and handed first league defeats last week to both Kalamazoo Hackett and Kalamazoo Christian. Schoolcraft has won 25 straight Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley games going back to 2016-17 and including four total so far this winter.
Ewen-Trout Creek (7-1) The Panthers have won seven straight since falling 49-47 to Calumet in their season opener. Along the way they’ve handed the lone loss to Baraga and last Thursday beat L’Anse 61-53 to take over first place alone in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain division. E-TC is aiming for a fourth-straight league title and also won its District last season.
Pittsford (9-0) First-year coach Aaron Davis has Pittsford looking like it has much of the last decade, with a run of double-digit wins and sitting first in the Southern Central Athletic Association East. Only Reading, in the Wildcats’ first game back from a two-week break, has come closer than 12 points – with Pittsford holding on for a 43-40 nonleague win. The Wildcats have won six straight league titles.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Saline (8-0) at Temperance Bedford (7-0) – The Southeastern Conference Red opener features two undefeated teams.
Wednesday – St. Ignace (5-1) at Pickford (9-0) – Avenging last season’s 84-41 District loss to reigning Division 4 runner-up St. Ignace would be another giant step for surging Pickford.
Friday – Manton (9-0) at Lake City (7-1) – They are tied for first in the Highland Conference; last season Manton won the league but Lake City made the Division 3 Semifinals.
Friday – Eaton Rapids (7-1) at Portland (7-1) – These two are tied for first in the Capital Area Activities Conference White as they near the midpoint of the league schedule.
Saturday – Detroit Edison (8-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (7-1) – The reigning Division 4 champion hosts the reigning title winner from Division 2, and Edison’s Gabrielle Elliott vs. Lenawee Christian’s Bree Salenbien should be one of the best individual matchups statewide this season.
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PHOTO: Frankenmuth defeated Saginaw Swan Valley on Friday for win No. 901 in program history. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)
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.