Bucs Earn Shot at Grand Finale

March 15, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Grand Haven’s girls basketball players toppled over each other on the Breslin Center floor Friday afternoon just as they did in celebrating their first Class A championship here a year before.

But the Buccaneers also realized they have one more game to win to finish one of the finest seasons in MHSAA girls basketball history.

Grand Haven earned that opportunity by coming back to defeat Westland John Glenn 55-46 after trailing in the Semifinal with a quarter to play.

The Bucs might not have been expected to put this run together after graduating most of last season’s team. But led by senior Abby Cole – who had a triple-double before the end of Thursday’s third quarter – they not only are in position to repeat, but also to finish undefeated this winter.

“Especially for the seniors, everyone wanted to come back and do what the seniors did for us last year,” Bucs senior Hannah Wilkerson said. “For the juniors now on the team, we wanted them to experience it. It’s still the best memory I have, ever.”

Grand Haven (27-0) will face No. 2 Grosse Pointe South at noon Saturday. The Bucs edged South 54-53 in last season’s Class A Final and have won 50 straight games. 

John Glenn came into Thursday with similar credentials to Grand Haven a year ago – carrying only one loss and seeking its first championship game berth. The No. 6 Rockets (24-2) actually were undefeated in Michigan, with their only loss to Toledo Rogers from Ohio. 

Pressuring and fastbreaking, John Glenn jumped to a 14-10 lead to end the first quarter after forcing Grand Haven into most of its 10 turnovers in the period and scoring 10 points off the fastbreak. 

But Cole was just getting started on a performance that will be remembered among the best of her all-state career.

The 6-foot-5 center finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 12 blocked shots, and even hit the first 3-pointer of her career – she had air-balled her only other attempt, earlier this season. 

Cole finished third in the Miss Basketball voting on Monday after finishing second in the Miss Volleyball voting at the end of the fall. She was named Class A basketball Player of the Year by The Associated Press, and will play volleyball at the University of Michigan next season.

“She’s the biggest impact player in the state,” Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “Just with her ability to block shots, rebound and score around the rim, and she makes everybody on our team better.” 

But the Bucs likely wouldn’t have moved on without some help. Junior forward Taylor Craymer scored 20 points, with half of those coming during the fourth quarter including the final go-ahead basket with 5:21 to play. Sophomore guard Amanda Merz had seven assists as the team steadied itself after the early Rockets rush. 

John Glenn senior guard Raven Bankston – who with sister Raine has signed with Delaware State – filled the stat sheet with 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and 11 steals, and senior guard Sha’Keya Graves scored 12 points. But although the Rockets launched 71 shots, they were able to connect on only 17 for the game and 2 of 18 shots during the fourth quarter. 

“Bottom line, Abby Cole disrupted everything we wanted to do,” John Glenn coach Eric Kovatch said. “She’s one heck of a ballplayer, and I’m sure a lot of college coaches wish she was playing college basketball instead of volleyball. 

“I think that got a little into our heads in the first half. Shots weren’t falling, and a lot of times this year those shots were falling. We want to put up a lot of shots. We just weren’t making as many as we usually do.”

Grand Haven entered the postseason ranked No. 3 in Class A, behind Detroit Martin Luther King and Grosse Pointe South.

Unlike a year ago, the Bucs were undefeated during the regular season after folding in a number of talented contributors from last season’s junior varsity team.

“We have such a good program at Grand Haven. We’re continually getting better, and the coaching staff is a huge part of it,” Cole said. “A lot of people doubted our team this year because we lost so many seniors. But I don’t know that many people knew we had an almost-undefeated team coming up from JV.”

Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Westland John Glenn's Raine Bankston (1), attempts to drive past Grand Haven's Amanda Merz during Friday's Semifinal. (Middle) Merz pushes the ball upcourt during the 55-46 win  (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photo.)

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Girls Report Week 10

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 6, 2023

Championship time is quickly approaching this girls basketball season.

MI Student Aid

We’re still three weeks out from the start of District play. But league contenders are clashing all over the state, with a handful of conferences finishing up their schedules this week and several favorites facing off soon with titles on the line. We make mention of a number of those below.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. West Bloomfield 59, Detroit Edison 49 Last season, West Bloomfield (15-2) became the first in-state team to defeat Edison (12-3) since 2018 – and the Lakers have become the only one to do so again this winter.

2. Maple City Glen Lake 51, Traverse City St. Francis 45 The Lakers (13-2) are up to No. 2 in Division 4 MPR, while St. Francis (12-2) sits No. 4 in Division 3.

3. Holt 55, DeWitt 53 The Rams (14-2) sit alone atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue after sending the Panthers (13-2) into second in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.

4. Hancock 50, Calumet 47 The Bulldogs (13-1) maintained their one-game lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference West with their second win this season over third-place Calumet (11-3). Both are among the top seven statewide in Division 3 MPR.

5. Detroit Edison 44, Farmington Hills Mercy 42 The Pioneers bounced back from the West Bloomfield loss with a pair of close wins, this one over Mercy (14-2) followed by a one-pointer over Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Saturday.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:


Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (11-5) After a 2-4 start with those losses to top Division 1 and 2 teams statewide, Reeths-Puffer is 9-3 and tied for first in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green with Muskegon after edging the Big Reds 56-52 on Friday. That avenged a 14-point loss to Muskegon on Jan. 6, and the Rockets have since gone on an eight-game winning streak. They also opened last week with a 42-39 victory over 11-win Ludington.

Maddie Bradford of Maple City Glen Lake contests a shot by Maggie Napont of Traverse City St. Francis during the Lakers' 51-45 win over the Gladiators last week.

Wayne Memorial (13-4) The Zebras further solidified their standing atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East standings with last week’s 75-57 win over second-place Belleville. That followed up a 44-41 win over the Tigers on Jan. 6, and total Wayne has won 12 straight since a 1-3 start that included two-point losses to Division 1 contenders Detroit Renaissance and Hudsonville and a third defeat to Illinois power Chicago Whitney Young.


Goodrich (14-1) The Martians are locked in another battle atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Lake Fenton and trail the Blue Devils by a game after a 50-44 loss Jan. 20. That’s Goodrich’s only defeat, and they’ll attempt to avenge it in the league finale Feb. 17. In the meantime, the Martians can continue their statewide push upward with 13-win Flushing coming up Wednesday and 15-win Ovid-Elsie next week as well.

Redford Westfield Prep (11-6) The Warriors take on many of the state’s best, evidenced by their No. 8 MPR despite six losses. Westfield has won seven of its last eight games, the lone defeat during that streak 55-53 to still-undefeated Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 16 – and with perhaps its most notable instate win of the season 46-45 in double overtime Jan. 12 over reigning Division 3 champion Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.


McBain (13-4) The Highland Conference race could go down to the finish, especially after McBain avenged its earlier 17-point loss to second-place Evart with a 51-35 win last week. McBain also has a six-point loss to league leader Lake City from Jan. 20, but can avenge that in the regular-season finale Feb. 23. The Ramblers additionally have a pair of victories over 12-win Beal City and a solid early loss to still-undefeated Division 2 Escanaba.

Ovid-Elsie (15-2) The Marauders haven’t slowed down a bit after last season’s 21-2 finish with league and District titles, the latter in Division 2. This season in Division 3, Ovid-Elsie is up to No. 6 in MPR with a 14-game winning streak since suffering its lone losses early to Pewamo-Westphalia (10-5) and Dansville (15-1). The Marauders handed Mackinaw City its first defeat Saturday, 59-55 on a neutral court, and also has a victory over 14-win Ithaca plus a two-game lead in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference.


Fowler (11-6) Coming off back-to-back Division 4 championships, Fowler put together a schedule featuring solid-to-strong teams from Divisions 1-4 and sit No. 3 in Division 4 MPR. The losses have come to Midland Dow, Haslett, Lansing Catholic, Kent City and league rivals Dansville and Portland St. Patrick, and the Eagles avenged the Shamrocks defeat 51-44 last week. Fowler will need help to catch Dansville in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, down two games from the league leader, but will try to get one back from the Aggies on Feb. 14.

Norway (16-1) The Knights are leading the large-school division of the Skyline Central Conference with the likely deciding matchup coming at Bark River-Harris next week. Norway has lost only to Niagara (Wis.), by five two weeks ago, and handed Carney-Nadeau (13-2) one of its losses among other strong work – and after ending last season’s 11-10 run with a 15-point District loss to the Wolves.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Coldwater (15-1) at Jackson Northwest (15-1) – The Mounties lead Coldwater by a win in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference thanks to a 50-46 win in their first meeting Jan. 10.

Tuesday – Utica Ford (14-1) at Grosse Pointe North (13-2) – North has clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title heading into tonight’s league finale, while Ford won by a large margin in the MAC White.

Thursday – Houghton (13-1) at Hancock (13-1) – As noted above, Hancock leads the West-PAC West by a game – but will face second-place Houghton twice over the next two weeks.

Friday – Standish-Sterling (15-1) at Hemlock (13-3) – Hemlock owns the lead in the Tri-Valley Conference West 10-1 thanks to a 62-31 doubling up in the first meeting Jan. 6. But that remains the Panthers’ lone loss, and they’ve since handed TVC 10-2 co-leader Saginaw Valley Lutheran one of its two defeats.

Friday – Saline (15-2) at Temperance Bedford (16-1) – Saline is first and Bedford second in the Southeastern Conference Red thanks to Saline’s 41-22 win in their first meeting Jan. 27.

MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews 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.

PHOTOS (Top) A trio of Fowler defenders surround a Bath player driving to the basket during a 49-27 win earlier this season; they meet again Thursday. (Middle) Maddie Bradford of Maple City Glen Lake contests a shot by Maggie Napont of Traverse City St. Francis during the Lakers' 51-45 win over the Gladiators last week. (Top photo by Click by Christine McCallister. Middle photo by Rick Sack/TC Rick Photo.)