Class B: Milestone Momentum
March 16, 2012
EAST LANSING – Shellis Hampton and Tiesha Stokes have enjoyed more victories during their Grand Rapids Catholic Central careers – literally – than most players in MHSAA history.
But there’s something special about winning a championship as a senior – and they hope to cap their final seasons with that lasting feeling Saturday evening.
They and Grand Rapids Catholic earned that opportunity Friday with a 72-49 Semifinal victory over Freeland.
One more win would give Hampton and Stokes each 100 wins for their careers – which would leave them tied for second in the MHSAA girls basketball record book. Both also were key contributors on the Cougars’ 2010 Class B championship team. But they’re cherishing this run even more.
“I think it’s better. We’re seniors. This is our last year in high school,” Hampton said. “We got to win sophomore year, which is great. But you always want to go out with a win. And the only way to go out with a win is to win the state championship.”
Grand Rapids Catholic Central, ranked just No. 10 entering the postseason, will face either Goodrich or Dearborn Divine Child in Saturday’s 6 p.m. Final.
The Cougars were 75-5 over the last three seasons coming into this one, and improved to 24-3 this winter with Friday’s victory. A four-year varsity player can win a maximum of 112 games during her career (and only if her teams don’t receive District byes). Grand Rapids Catholic has reached three of the last four Class B Finals weekends – another big advantage Friday against a Freeland team with no seniors that was playing for its first championship game berth since 1998.
“You have a sense of composure and familiarity, every time you come (to Breslin),” Cougars coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate said. “It’s fun to play here, but it felt like just another game.”
That was evident early Friday. Grand Rapids Catholic jumped out to a 23-8 lead midway through the second quarter and led by as many as 35.
Stokes finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Hampton added 13 points and seven rebounds. Junior Courtney Zenner added 12 points and senior Addie Johnson had 10.
And those were just the offensive contributions. Freeland junior Tori Jankoska, who will sign with Michigan State this fall, ranked multiple Cougars as the best defenders she’s faced this season – although she still finished with 29 points and nine rebounds.
“Normally we can take away either the inside or outside game. But this team had both going tonight,” Freeland coach Tom Zolinski said. “Our inexperience showed a little bit. Definitely, their experience took over early and throughout the entire game.
“It’s an emotional ride. To go high and low just like that, it’s a feeling that will help us for next year.”
The seeds of Friday’s loss should take hold immediately, as Freeland (22-4) had no seniors this season. Zolinski spoke as well of not having to give a sad good-bye speech after the loss; instead, he got his Falcons revved to make a return trip to East Lansing.
“That’s the best part about it. I’ve grown so close to this team already, and we don’t have to say bye to any of our family members, essentially,” Jankoska said. “I don’t think any of our team had ever been to a Regional Finals beside me. … Everyone’s going to be back next year, and hopefully we can make a run at it, since nobody expected us to get here this year. No one knows how far we’re going to get next year."
Click for the box score. Watch the game and both teams' postgame press conferences at MHSAA.tv.
PHOTO: Grand Rapids Catholic Central senior Tiesha Stokes takes a shot Friday. She made 8 of 13 for a team-high 17 points. (Photo courtesy of Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 18, 2023
EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.
Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.
“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”
The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.
“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”
It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.
“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”
Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.
The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.
“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”
Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game.
That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.
The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.
“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”
Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.
“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”
Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.
Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic.
“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”
PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.