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.
Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner
March 24, 2023
Regan Finkbeiner ♦ Hemlock
Senior ♦ Basketball
The 5-foot-6 guard capped her high school career at Breslin Center over the weekend with team highs of 24 points and four steals in Thursday’s 57-26 Division 3 Semifinal win over Hart and the team-leading 19 points and four assists in the 59-43 win over Blissfield on Saturday that clinched the Huskies their first MHSAA Finals championship in girls basketball.
Finkbeiner played all but four minutes of 64 total over the two games, and she made a combined 15 of her 27 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 free throw attempts, plus four 3-pointers in the Final. She had entered the season’s final week averaging 17.1 points, 3.5 assists and 4.8 steals per game and in February became the program’s all-time leading scorer breaking the previous record of 1,302. A standout in multiple sports, she’s committed to continue playing softball after high school at Madonna University. Her basketball team finished 26-3 this winter.
@mhsaasports 🏀POW: Regan Finkbeiner #performanceoftheweek #basketball #champion #congrats #huskies #hemlock #letsgo #moana #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok #mistudentaid #fyp ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat
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March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9: Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2: Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23: Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16: Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9: Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2: Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26: Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20: Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16: Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9: Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10: Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3: Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27: Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20: Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6: Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner drives to the basket during her team's Semifinal win over Hart. (Photos courtesy of the Hemlock girls basketball program.)