Canton Corrals Comets in Class A Semi

March 14, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – The way Canton wins would be easy to overlook, if not for the key word in that statement.

It’s become impossible to ignore the defensive-minded Chiefs, who entered this postseason as only an honorable mention in the final Associated Press Class A poll – and advanced to their first MHSAA Final on Friday at the Breslin Center.

Canton prides itself on defense, giving up only 28 points per game this season.

And the Chiefs made that average stick in handing No. 4 Grand Ledge a 35-28 defeat to advance to Saturday’s championship game against Bloomfield Hills Marian.

“Sometimes we haven’t been thought of as a leading team or whatever, underestimated,” Canton senior center Taylor Hunley said. “It’s great to work so hard to make the final day of the season and be able to spend as much time with each other as possible.”

The Chiefs just missed advancing to the Class A championship games in both 2009 and 2010. But this team is different in that its run is a bit unexpected.

Canton’s only losses were to Marian, Mercy, and a couple more contenders in Grosse Pointe South and Waterford Mott. But it was lack of flashiness in their wins that maybe made this team easier to forget – and yet now, unforgettable.

“We always talk about playing on the last day. The first two (Canton) teams that came, that was sort’ve expected because they were ranked in the top three all year and there was a lot of pressure to get here,” Canton coach Brian Samulski said. “These guys have really been able to enjoy this run they’ve put us on. There’s no real pressure. No one talked about them. But we refuse to lose and keep plugging away, and go from there.”

The first few minutes Friday ended up a good indicator of what was to come; Grand Ledge scored the game’s first basket, but not until more than three minutes had been played.

The Comets entered the week with three players averaging double figures scoring – senior sisters Hannah (15 ppg) and Lindsay Orwat (13.4) and 6-foot-3 junior Cori Crocker (10.7). As a team, Grand Ledge averaged nearly 58 points per game before Friday.

But the trio combined for only 21 points, led by Lindsay Orwat’s nine.

“Me and my sister love to shoot off ball screens, but they were right there in our faces,” Hannah Orwat said. “We’d dump it in to Cori, and there would be five girls on her. We couldn’t get in a flow.”

The teams identically took 39 shots, both making 11. But whereas Canton has been used to this kind of game, the Chiefs could sense by the second quarter that the Comets were getting frustrated.

They were knotted 19-19 heading into the fourth quarter before Hunley and senior Paige Aresco keyed an 8-0 run that seemingly put this low-scoring game out of reach for Grand Ledge.

“A lot of great teams are focused on offense, offense, offense. And then they come up against us,” Aresco said. “We’ve done a great job shutting them down, and it’s been kinda shocking for them, I think.”

The Comets, who will graduate six players, were in their first Semifinal appearance. They finished 24-3.

“This group of Grand Ledge girls has been going to school together their whole lives, and we kept focusing on that as the year went on,” Grand Ledge coach David Jones said. “Experiencing this together, being together, we’re proud of accomplishing getting this far. And a lot of the credit goes to this senior class.”

Click for a full box score and video from the press conference.

PHOTOS: (Top) Canton’s Paige Aresco (14) works to drive against Grand Ledge’s Hannah Orwat. (Middle) Orwat searches for an open teammate as two Chiefs converge. 

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Grand Ledge grabs a 17-15 third-quarter lead against Canton on a pull-up jumper by Lindsay Orwat. (2) Canton scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to break the game open. This layup by Aresco starts the run.

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

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:

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.