Class A-B Preview: Recognizable Returns

March 18, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Plenty of familiar uniforms will be running the Breslin Center floor during Friday’s Class A and B Semifinals.

Only one team is seeking its first championship game berth – the other seven semifinalists have a combined 25 MHSAA titles.

And the familiarity doesn’t end there. Reigning Class A champion Bloomfield Hills Marian is top-ranked and played No. 2 Detroit Martin Luther King to a one-point win only three weeks ago – and they meet in a Semifinal. Capital Area Activities Conference Red rivals DeWitt and Haslett don’t meet this weekend because they play in different classes – but are representing their league well after sharing its championship.

Saginaw Heritage has a player whose dad made national headlines on the Breslin court, and Benton Harbor has a star who will join the Spartans upon graduation. Goodrich and Detroit Country Day are both regulars at Finals weekend, and back after a short time away.  

All four Class A and B Semifinals will be played Friday, with all four championship games Saturday. 

Semifinals - Friday
Class A

DeWitt (24-1) vs Saginaw Heritage (24-3), 1 p.m.
Bloomfield Hills Marian (24-1) vs Detroit Martin Luther King (24-1), 2:50 p.m.

Class B
Benton Harbor (20-5) vs Haslett (21-5), 6 p.m.
Goodrich (25-1) vs Detroit Country Day (20-4), 7:50 p.m.

Finals - Saturday
Class A - Noon
Class B - 6 pm
Class C - 4 pm 
Class D - 10 am 

Tickets cost $8 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session. All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.TV on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit, the Class D, A and C title games on FOX Sports Detroit's primary channel and the Class B game on FOX Sports Detroit-PLUS. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on

And now, a look at the semifinalists in Class A and B. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through Regionals Finals.)

Class A

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1.
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Coach: Mary Cicerone, 32nd season (584-194).
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), one runner-up finish.   
Best wins: 51-42 over No. 7 Waterford Kettering in the Quarterfinal, 49-33 (Regional Final), 65-28 and 54-32 over honorable mention Farmington Hills Mercy, 47-36 over No. 3 Southfield-Lathrup in the Regional Semifinal, 50-49 over No. 2 Detroit Martin Luther King. 68-41 over Benton Harbor, 56-26 over Class C No. 3 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
Players to watch: Brittany Gray, 5-11, sr. F (12 ppg, 4.9 rpg); Samantha Thomas, 6-0 soph. G (11.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.4 spg).
Outlook: Marian is the favorite to repeat after last season winning its first championship since 1998. The Mustangs are 67-7 over the last three seasons and lost this winter only to Chicago Whitney Young, by four points. Senior guard Kara Holinski (9.7 ppg, 3.3 apg) and junior guard Bailey Thomas (7.4 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.1 spg) joined Gray and Thomas starting in last season’s Final, and senior guard Jaeda Robinson played the most minutes off the bench and adds another 7.4 points per game to the starting lineup. 

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 2.
League finish: First in Detroit Public School League East.
Coach: William Winfield, 33rd season (687-55).
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), six runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 43-36 over No. 9 Grosse Pointe South in the Regional Semifinal, 43-36 (District Final), 66-53 and 53-49 over Detroit Cass Tech, 49-35 (Quarterfinal) and 68-34 over Romulus.
Players to watch: Janae Williams, 5-8 sr. G (15.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.3 spg); Malaysia McHenry, 6-3 F/C, sr. (10 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.1 bpg).
Outlook: King is making its first trip to Finals weekend since 2006 but hasn’t won fewer than 22 games since 2002 or lost more than one in a season since 2010. The lone loss this winter was to top-ranked Marian, by a point, making their rematch Friday the must-see game of the Semifinal round. No team left has as much size as the Crusaders; McHenry is joined in the starting lineup by 6-3 senior Leah Mathis, with 6-2 junior Jasmine Flowers filling in off the bench. Sophomore guard Alicia Norman adds 11.4 points per game. Williams has signed with Division I Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. 

Record/rank: 24-1, No. 4.
League finish: Tied for first in Capital Area Activities Conference Red.
Coach: Bill McCullen, 19th season (357-78).
Championship history: Class C champion 1977.
Best wins: 48-43 OT over No. 5 Ann Arbor Huron in the Regional Semifinal, 65-53 over Kalamazoo Central in the Regional Final, 53-38 (District Final), 62-48 and 54-51 over Lansing Waverly, 51-47 over Class B No. 8 Haslett.
Players to watch: Claudia Reid, 5-7 sr. G (10.3 ppg, 6.5 apg, 2.6 spg); Abby Nakfoor, 5-10 sr. F (12 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
Outlook: A three-time Class B semifinalist (most recently in 2009), DeWitt moved up to Class A for 2011-12 and has this winter tallied the third-most wins of McCullen’s successful tenure. Reid is a four-year varsity point guard and with Nakfoor is joined by two more seniors in the starting lineup in guards Cayce Palmer and Maria Moss, with junior 5-10 center Lilly George the team’s third leading scorer at 8.2 ppg. 

Record/rank: 24-3, honorable mention.
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley Association North.
Coach: Vonnie DeLong, second season (38-8).
Championship history: Class A champion 2002, runner-up 2001.
Best wins: 39-31 over No. 10 Flushing in the Regional Final, 50-31 over No. 7 Marquette in the Regional Semifinal, 52-38 (District Final) and 49-39 over No. 6 Midland Dow.
Players to watch: Allie Miller, 5-7 sr. G (9.6 ppg, 4.7 apg, 3.4 spg); Jaela Richardson, 6-0 fr. F (8.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: Heritage has stormed through the postseason, beating Dow after finishing second to the Chargers in league play and then downing Flushing after falling to the Raiders in overtime Feb. 24. No player averages in double figures scoring, but six score at least six points per game and four players grab at least four rebounds per. Richardson, the daughter of Philadelphia 76ers guard Jason, surely will carry some intrigue as she plays on her dad’s former college home floor. 

Class B

Record/rank: 20-5, honorable mention.
League finish: Second in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West.
Coach: Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick, fifth season (69-46).
Championship history: Class A champion 2009, Class A runner-up 1984.
Best wins: 50-47 over No. 10 Plainwell in the Regional Final, 56-53 over Class A honorable mention Stevensville Lakeshore, 90-79 over Kalamazoo Central.
Players to watch: Kalabrya Gondrezick, 5-8 sr. G (17.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 8.1 apg, 2.8 spg, 1.1 bpg); Kysre Gondrezick, 5-9 jr. G (27.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 5.4 apg, 3.6 spg).
Outlook: Benton Harbor has steadily improved in five seasons under Harvey-Gondrezick, a former Benton Harbor standout, and has won 13 straight heading into this weekend. Her daughters are stars now; Kalabrya was a Miss Basketball finalist and will play at Michigan State, while Kysre is the team's leading scorer and rebounder and only a junior. Senior guard Dennee Brown adds 10.1 points and 1.2 blocks per game, and 6-1 senior center Gabrielle Dortch is one of two players 6-0 or taller in the playing group; she averages 9.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. 

Record/rank: 20-4, No. 6.
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Frank Orlando, 34th season (710-110).
Championship history: Ten MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 47-39 over honorable mention Dearborn Divine Child in the Quarterfinal, 57-43 over No. 8 Haslett, 72-36 over Class C No. 5 Flint Hamady, 59-52 over Class C No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel.
Players to watch: Destiny Pitts, 5-10 soph. F (15.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 45 3-pointers); Kaela Webb, 5-6 fr. G (7.8 ppg, 2.1 apg, 2.1 spg, 28 3-pointers).
Outlook: Country Day has won 18 straight Regional titles but is making its first Semifinal appearance since 2010 – although this lineup seems to indicate a return to Breslin regular. Although the Yellowjackets start two seniors, they are the only seniors on the team, and there are seven underclassmen including 6-3 starting sophomore center Tylar Bennett. The losses came to three strong Class A teams and Class C contender Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. 

Record/rank: 25-1, No. 2.
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Red.
Coach: Jason Gray, 17th season (340-45).
Championship history: Class B champion 2013 and 2012.   
Best wins: 57-40 over No. 7 Manistee in the Quarterfinal, 55-43 over No. 8 Haslett, 45-41 over No. 9 Frankenmuth in the Regional Semifinal, 50-48 over No. 1 Midland Bullock Creek in the Regional Final.
Players to watch: Tania Davis, 5-5 sr. G (19.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.9 spg ); Alexis Sevillian, 5-7 jr. G (15.6 ppg, 2.2 apg, 2.4 spg).
Outlook: Not that it required justification, but Goodrich has more than proved why it belongs back at Breslin and as the likely favorite. The Martians eliminated three top-10 teams and handed Bullock Creek and its trio of 1,000-point scorers its only loss this season. Davis was named Miss Basketball on Monday and teams with Sevillian for a dominating backcourt. Senior Isabella O’Brien provides plenty of presence to complement the star guards down low; she’s 6-2 and averages 9.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. 

Record/rank: 21-5, No. 8.
League finish: Tied for first in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red.
Coach: Bob Currier, sixth season (102-38).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.  
Best wins: 48-38 over No. 3 Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the Quarterfinal, 63-56 over No. 4 Wayland in the Regional Final, 53-43 over No. 5 Williamston in the District opener, 55-44 over No. 4 DeWitt.
Players to watch: Makenna Ott, 5-10 sr. F (13.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg); Karson Tripp, 6-0 jr.  F (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: The Vikings are one of the most intriguing stories this weekend; they made the Regional Finals in Class A last season, then moved to Class B with a senior-dominated lineup and high expectations but worked through a tough stretch midseason with Ott out with an injury. She’s back and the team has knocked off three top-five teams during the last three weeks. Ott and Tripp are the leading scorers, but hardly the only key contributors. Senior guard Kenzie DeCook averages 11.5 points per game and had 34 3-pointers entering the week, while senior guard Adrianna Stolicker is a captain with Ott and averages 10.3 ppg.

PHOTO: DeWitt guard Maria Moss goes up for a shot in the Panthers’ Quarterfinal win over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of tcp-photography.)

Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

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.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“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.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.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.”

Click for the full box score.

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.