Class B Preview: Challengers & Champion

March 14, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Three Class B semifinalists will journey to Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena this weekend seeking the first MHSAA Finals title in their programs’ histories.

But to celebrate the ultimate prize for the first time, those hopefuls must contend with the reigning champion and the winningest coach in Michigan girls basketball history.

Detroit Country Day and coach Frank Orlando loom large in Grand Rapids as an intriguing bracket prepares to unfold.

Class B Semifinals – Friday
Jackson Northwest (24-1) vs. Michigan Center (23-2), 5:30 p.m.
Detroit Country Day (20-4) vs. Kingsley (26-0), 7:30 p.m.

Class B Final – Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class C and Class B). All Semifinals will be streamed live on and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit and streamed live on and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)

Record/rank: 21-4, No. 2 
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Frank Orlando, 37th season (777-117)
Championship history: 
Twelve MHSAA titles (most recent 2017), four runner-up finishes.  
Best wins: 58-41 over No. 5 Freeland in Quarterfinal, 65-59 over Class A No. 7 Flint Carman-Ainsworth, 66-58 over Midland Dow, 70-58 over Detroit Martin Luther King.
Players to watch: Kaela Webb, 5-7 sr. G (15.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.7 spg); Adrian Folks, 6-0 jr. F (12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
Outlook: Country Day is seeking its third title in four seasons led by Miss Basketball finalist Webb, a standout on last season’s team as well. Senior forward Maxine Moore (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and junior guard Jasmine Powell (10.5 ppg, 6.9 apg) also started the 2017 championship game and give the Yellowjackets a veteran presence – even as the team has only three seniors. Although not wins, losses to eventual semifinalists Detroit Edison, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, Wayne Memorial and Saginaw Heritage surely provided preparation for this weekend. Junior guard Maddie Novak also averages 9.5 ppg.

Record/rank: 26-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Northwest Conference.
Coach: Matt Schelich, 20th season (335-116)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 49-39 over honorable mention Muskegon Oakridge in Quarterfinal, 58-39 over Kalkaska in District Final, 70-66 and 61-45 over Class C No. 10 Maple City Glen Lake, 72-36 over Manton, 71-21 over Petoskey.
Players to watch: Brittany Bowman, 5-3 soph. G (11.5 ppg, 3.0 spg); Rebekah Crosby, 6-0 sr. C (9.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: Friday’s game will be Kingsley’s second Semifinal ever and first since 2008. All five starters average between 8-11 points per game and bring something important to the lineup. Senior Kelsie Bies (8.3 ppg) had 46 3-pointers entering the week, while junior Jacie King (10.1) also averaged three steals per contest and senior Jalynn Brumfield (9.7 ppg) has the team’s high scoring game this winter. Only two of the Stags’ games were decided by single digits this season – made more impressive as Manton and Petoskey were league champions.

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Interstate 8 Athletic Conference.
Coach: Ryan Carroll, seventh season (123-40)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 42-35 over No. 4 Hamilton in Quarterfinal, 48-43 over Fowlerville in Regional Final, 66-64 and 47-37 over Class A No. 6 Coldwater.
Players to watch: Sydney Shafer, 5-9 jr. G (17 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 4.0 spg); Ella Bontrager, 5-8 sr. G (11.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg).
Outlook: The Mounties have made the final week of the season for the first time after winning their fourth District and second league title over the last six seasons. Northwest emerged from an I8AC that produced three District champions and four teams with at least 16 wins this winter. It has won 22 straight since falling early to Battle Creek Harper Creek (16-7). Seven players contribute at least four points per game; sophomore forward Jozie Bontrager is another key contributor at 6.9 points and seven rebounds per contest.

Record/rank: 23-2, unranked
League finish: First in Cascades Conference.
Coach: Joe Lusk, sixth season (100-39)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 2003 and 2005.
Best wins: 63-49 over Harper Woods Chandler Park in Quarterfinal, 49-36 over No. 8 New Boston Huron in Regional Final, 57-41 over Dearborn Henry Ford in Regional Semifinal, 49-39 over Onsted in District Final.
Players to watch: Masyn Shannon, 5-7 sr. G/F; Alize’ Tripp, 5-6 soph. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Michigan Center was a District champ in Class C a year ago, but has continued to rise in Class B and with a roster featuring three seniors with eight underclassmen. The Cardinals have won 18 straight, and only one victory this season has been by fewer than 10 points. After a rare down season in 2015-16 at 6-15, Michigan Center is a combined 43-6 over the last two.

PHOTO: Jackson Northwest's Sydney Shafer drives hard to the basket during Tuesday's Quarterfinal win over Hamilton. (Photo courtesy of JTV.)

High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

July 11, 2024

Jareica Hughes had a Hall of Fame collegiate basketball career playing at University of Texas-El Paso and has played professionally overseas, but her most prized possession is something she earned playing high school basketball in Michigan. 

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosA standout at now-closed Southfield-Lathrup High School during the early-to-mid 2000s, Hughes proudly displays a signature symbol of Lathrup’s Class A championship team in 2005. 

“I have my state championship ring on me right now,” said Hughes, now an assistant head coach for the women’s basketball program at UTEP. “I wear this ring every single day. Not so much for the basketball aspect. Inside of the ring it says ‘Hoop Squad.’ It’s more the connection I’ve had with those particular young ladies. Friends that I’ve known since I was kid. Every once in a while when we talk, we go back in time.”

Believe it or not, Hughes and her high school teammates next year will have to go back 20 years to commemorate a run to the title that started when they were freshmen. 

It was a gradual build-up to what was the first girls basketball state championship won by a public school in Oakland County. Lathrup, which has since merged with the former Southfield High School to form Southfield Arts & Technology, remained the only public school in Oakland County to win a state girls basketball title until West Bloomfield did so in 2022 and again this past March. 

Lathrup lost in the District round to Bloomfield Hills Marian during Hughes’ freshman year, and then after defeating Marian in a District Final a year later, lost to West Bloomfield in a Regional Final.

When Hughes was a junior, the team got to the state’s final four, but a bad third quarter resulted in a heartbreaking one-point Semifinal loss to eventual champion Lansing Waverly. 

A year later, when Hughes and other core players such as Brittane Russell, Timika Williams, Dhanmite’ Slappey and Briana Whitehead were seniors, they finished the job and won the Class A crown with a 48-36 win over Detroit Martin Luther King in the Final.

However, the signature moment of that title run actually came during the Semifinal round and was produced by Hughes, a playmaking wizard at point guard who made the team go. 

Trailing by three points during the waning seconds of regulation against Grandville and Miss Basketball winner Allyssa DeHaan – a dominant 6-foot-8 center – Hughes drained a tying 3-pointer from the wing that was well beyond the 3-point line. 

Lathrup went on to defeat Grandville in overtime and prevail against King.

Hughes said the year prior, she passed up on taking a potential winning or tying shot in the Semifinal loss against Waverly, and was reminded of that constantly by coaches and teammates. “I just remember in the huddle before that shot, that just kept ringing in my mind,” she said. “That was special. I cried for weeks not being able to get a shot off (the year before) and leaving the tournament like that.”

Growing up in Detroit, Hughes got into basketball mainly because she had five older brothers and an older sister who played the game. In particular, Hughes highlights older brother Gabriel for getting her into the game and taking her from playground to playground.

“I’m from Detroit,” she said. “We played ball all day long. Sunup to sundown. When the light comes on, you had to run your butt into the house.”

Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center.Hughes played for the Police Athletic League and also at the famed St. Cecilia gym in the summer, developing her game primarily against boys.

“My first team was on a boys team,” she said. “I was a captain on a boys team.” 

The family moved into Lathrup’s district before she began high school. 

Once she helped lead Lathrup to the 2005 championship, she went on to a fine career at UTEP, where she was the Conference USA Player of the Year twice and helped lead the Miners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Hughes still holds school records for career assists (599), steals (277) and minutes played (3,777). On Monday, she was named to Conference USA’s 2024 Hall of Fame class. 

After a brief professional career overseas was derailed by a shoulder injury, Hughes said getting into coaching was a natural fit. 

“I had to make the hard decision, and I knew as a kid I wanted to be around basketball,” she said. “Once I made that decision (to quit), I knew I was going to coach.”

Hughes started coaching in the Detroit area, first serving as an assistant at Southfield A&T from 2016-20 and then at Birmingham Groves for a season. She then served as interim head coach at Colby Community College in Kansas before being named an assistant at UTEP in May 2023, a month after her former coach Keitha Adams returned to lead the program after six seasons at Wichita State.  

While fully immersed in her job with UTEP, Hughes’ high school memories in Michigan certainly aren’t going away anytime soon – especially with the 20th anniversary of Lathrup’s championship coming up. 

“We are still close friends because we all essentially grew up together,” she said. “They are still my friends to this day.”

2024 Made In Michigan

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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Southfield-Lathrup’s Jareica Hughes drives to the basket against Detroit Martin Luther King during the 2005 Class A Final; at right, Hughes coaches this past season at UTEP. (Middle) Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center. (UTEP photo courtesy of the UTEP sports information department.)