Chassell Adds Chapter to Storybook Season

March 15, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – The possibility of a Chassell basketball team playing for an MHSAA championship for the first time since 1958 was within reach with a half remaining Thursday. 

But earning that opportunity would take some work.

The Panthers trailed Waterford Our Lady by nine during their Class D Semifinal at Van Noord Arena – and senior point guard Milly Allen had an uncharacteristic eight turnovers.

“At halftime we realized we needed to push, and that if we played our game we’d be perfectly fine,” Allen said. “We came out in the second half, kept chipping away.

“We worked together as a team. We told each other we need to come out, we need to bounce pass, we need to be smarter with the ball all together.”

Chassell had only three turnovers as a team during the second half. Allen had none. And the ball spent most of the final minutes safely in her hands as Chassell’s girls team continued its longest run in program history with a 55-51 victory.

Chassell (26-1) will play Adrian Lenawee Christian in Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship game.

The Panthers’ Regional title last week was the first won by either the girls or boys basketball programs since the boys won three straight Class D titles from 1956-58.

 “This means the world. They’ve earned it,” Chassell coach Brandi Hainault said. “They’ve worked hard, and we always knew we could get here. … I guess in our minds, this is where we were going to go. For it to happen, it’s just an amazing feeling.”

Some big-time second half efforts made it reality.

Four players combined to score all but two of Chassell’s points – Allen finished with 17, senior center Sydney Danison 15, senior forward Meg Hokenson 10 and junior guard Jenna Pietila 11. But they’d combined for only 24 of those 53 points during the first half.

Allen scored 11 of her 17 during the final two quarters, and also finished with five assists and three steals – and plenty of praise from Our Lady coach Steve Robak.

“(She) was very fast and we didn’t do a good job containing her. She was able to get around us when we’d try to press or trap, and that’s what created the most problems,” he said.

“They tried to get the ball to (Allen) every time and have her try to do her thing, which is use her speed. Maybe in the first half we did a better job containing her, but I felt like most of the game we had trouble with (her) when she had the ball.”

The 6-foot-1 Danison also made an impression during the second half with nine of her points and a strong presence defensively.

The Lakers started off the game hitting 52 percent of their shots during the first two quarters. They then made only 27 percent during the third quarter and 21 percent during the fourth.

Our Lady had only nine turnovers for the game – but along with the tough shooting night was outrebounded 36-25.

Senior Tiffany Senerius had 19 points and four steals to lead Our Lady (20-5), and senior Kayla Sanders added 18 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.

“We had five seniors, three were starters, and I’m extremely proud of the entire team because the entire team had an incredible season,” Robak said. “We had four losses (before Thursday) all year to four really good teams, two of which are still playing. So I’m proud of this team and everything they gave. The seniors gave everything they had.”

Our Lady has had its share of storybook endings lately with three Semifinal runs over the last four seasons and three championships over the last eight.

In Chassell, stories of the 1956-58 boys championship teams continue to be told. Now the girls are carving out their place in local and state history.

“It’s awesome for them. They had three state championships, and that’s something you’re going to talk about for the rest of your time around,” Hainault said. “I guess we want to start our own story.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Chassell’s Milly Allen dives for a loose ball during Thursday’s Class D Semifinal. (Middle) Our Lady’s Kayla Sanders puts up a shot over Allen’s reach. 

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)