By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A pair of undefeated teams from Class C and D will play for their first MHSAA girls basketball championships this weekend.
Laingsburg, in Class C, and Class D Pittsford also won their first Regional titles on the way and are joined by two others hoping to reach championship games Saturday at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center for the first time in their programs’ histories.
But standing in the way are a three-time champ in Class C and three teams with a combined nine titles seeking to win again in Class D.
All four Class C and D Semifinals will be played Thursday, with all four championship games Saturday.
Semifinals - Thursday
Calumet (22-2) vs Laingsburg (26-0), 1 p.m.
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (22-3) vs Flint Hamady (25-1), 2:50 p.m.
Pittsford (25-0) vs Waterford Our Lady (12-12), 6 p.m.
Frankfort (24-1) vs St. Ignace (20-5), 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 MHSAANetwork.com.
And now, a look at the semifinalists in Class C and D. 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: 22-2, unranked.
League finish: Second in Western Peninsula Athletic Conference.
Coach: Jeff Twardzik, first season (22-2).
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 43-37, 53-36 and 45-37 (District Final) over Hancock, 46-23 over Tawas in the Quarterfinal.
Players to watch: Lexie Rowe, 5-5 sr. G (11 ppg, 2.7 spg); Ellen Twardzik, 5-10 sr. C (9.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
Outlook: Calumet is making its first Semifinal appearance after playing in its first Quarterfinal since 1977. The Copper Kings are only a pair of losses to Class B and league rival Houghton from a perfect record. Seven seniors lead a veteran group, with four in the starting lineup. Junior Clara Loukus adds 7.6 points and 3.1 assists per game. Twardzik took over the varsity after previously leading the junior varsity to a 38-0 mark.
Record/rank: 25-1, No. 5.
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Blue.
Coach: Keith Smith, 13th season (292-38).
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent Class C 2010), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 44-42 over No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel in the Quarterfinal, 42-26 over honorable mention Sandusky in the Regional Semifinal, 45-33 over honorable mention Flint Beecher in the District Final, 54-29 and 44-32 over Class D No. 9 Morrice.
Players to watch: Jalisha Terry, 5-7 jr. G; Aaliah Hill, 5-9 sr. C (statistics not provided).
Outlook: Hamady is back at the Semifinals for the first time since 2011 after winning back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. The Hawks again cruised through the GAC Blue for their sixth league title in seven seasons, and fell only to Class B semifinalist Detroit Country Day. Terry is a three-year varsity player at the point and one of the state’s top juniors, and she and Hill are surrounded by three underclassmen in the starting lineup with another freshman playing a key role off the bench.
Record/rank: 26-0, No. 1.
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference.
Coach: Doug Hurst, third season (55-15).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 33-26 over No. 2 Niles Brandywine in the Quarterfinal, 40-29 over Morley Stanwood in the Regional Final, 33-24 over Kent City in the Regional Semifinal, 28-17 over No. 10 Carson City-Crystal in the District Final, 32-26 (District opener), 36-33 and 39-29 over Pewamo-Westphalia.
Players to watch: Lindsey Smith, 5-7 jr. F (11.2 ppg, 2.4 spg, 41 3-pointers); Julia Angst, 5-4 jr. G (8.0 ppg, 2.8 apg).
Outlook: Although Laingsburg has had nice seasons playing in a league that includes multiple previous MHSAA champions, this clearly has been the Wolfpack’s best run. The juniors above are the leading scorers but surrounded by three seniors in a starting lineup that is balanced not just in putting points on the board but rebounding and defensively as well – four players have between 54-64 steals and seven have grabbed at least 50 rebounds.
YPSILANTI ARBOR PREP
Record/rank: 22-3, tied for No. 3.
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Rod Wells, fourth season (78-14).
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 59-39 over No. 8 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the Regional Final, 58-38 over No. 6 Blissfield in the Regional Semifinal, 59-55 over Class B No. 3 Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 54-39 over Class B No. 6 Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Nastassja Chambers, 5-9 jr. G (15.3 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3.7 spg); Karlee Morris, 5-11 sr. F (8.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.4 spg).
Outlook: Arbor Prep won Regional titles the last two seasons – it fell to eventual champion Eaton Rapids in last season’s Class B Quarterfinal – and is tested against some of the biggest and best in Michigan with losses to Class A Southfield-Lathrup, Ann Arbor Huron and Bloomfield Hills Marian. Five players score at least six points per game, with senior guard Payton Sims adding eight points per and making 44 3-pointers heading into the week.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1.
League finish: First in Northwest Conference.
Coach: Tim Reznich, 13th season (236-72).
Championship history: Class D champions 2006 and 2005.
Best wins: 49-42 over No. 7 Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the Quarterfinal, 52-30 over No. 3 Bellaire in the Regional Final, 61-38 over St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran.
Players to watch: Mackenna Kelly, 5-10 jr. G (17.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.3 spg); Cecelia Schmitt, 5-10 soph. G (13.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg).
Outlook: Frankfort emerged from a 10-11 record only two seasons ago to go a combined 47-3 over the last two – and knocked off reigning champion Sacred Heart to reach its first Finals weekend since winning the back-to-back titles. The only loss was in December to Portland, a Class B District finalist. Kelly and Schmitt are strong shooters – Schmitt better than 50 percent from 3-point range – and Kelly gets plenty of rebounding help from seniors Shayla Soto (9.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.1 apg) and Madison Stefanski (4.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
Record/rank: 25-0, No. 2.
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association East.
Coach: Chris Hodos, third season (63-7).
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 65-20 over No. 9 Morrice in the Regional Final, 50-45 over St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran in the Quarterfinal, 47-39 over Manchester.
Players to watch: Maddie Clark, 5-9 soph. F (19.4 ppg, 10 rpg, 4.0 spg, 1.4 bpg); Jaycie Burger, 5-9 soph. G (17.9 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.9 spg).
Outlook: Pittsford has gotten here in part with an incredible defensive effort. The Wildcats are giving up an average of 27.6 points per game during the postseason and total have kept opponents under 30 points 18 times this winter. Only four of 13 players are upperclassmen, making this potentially the first of a few impressive runs to come.
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 6.
League finish: First in Straits Area Conference.
Coach: Dorene Ingalls, 16th season (335-65).
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent Class D 2013), three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 66-51 over No. 10 Crystal Falls Forest Park in the Quarterfinal, 81-51 over Hillman in the Regional Final, 55-40 over Cedarville, 52-48 and 56-35 over Sault Ste. Marie.
Players to watch: Margo Brown, 5-7 sr. G (13.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.4 spg, 51 3-pointers); Abbey Ostman, 5-9 jr. G/F (16.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 4.0 spg).
Outlook: Class C or D matters not to the Saints; they’ve made six straight Finals weekends and played in two straight championship games, finishing as runner-up in Class C a year ago. Ostman and Smith also started last season and 6-0 senior center Sarah Smith played the most minutes off the bench in the Final; she’s averaging 8.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. St. Ignace has won 10 straight since falling to Class A Gaylord on Feb. 2, and all five of its losses were to bigger schools.
WATERFORD OUR LADY
Record/rank: 12-12, unranked.
League finish: Third in Detroit Catholic League East.
Coach: Steve Robak, eighth season (147-52).
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 38-35 over honorable mention Birmingham Roeper in the Regional Semifinal, 39-36 over Kingston in the Quarterfinal, 46-44 over Allen Park Inter-City Baptist in the Regional Final.
Players to watch: Tiffany Senerius, 5-8 fr. G (10.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg); Alex Troy, 5-6 jr. G (10.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 apg).
Outlook: Our Lady is in the rare situation as a surprise at the Finals – the Lakers won three straight titles and then finished runner-up from 2010-13 before falling to 8-13 a year ago. They’ve been revived with two freshmen starters and a sophomore in the playing group to go with three junior starters. This weekend will continue to provide valuable experience for a lineup that has gone 8-4 over its last 12 games.
PHOTO: Clara Loukus (10) stands in the way of a Hancock ball handler during Calumet's District championship win. (Photo courtesy of Calumet High School.)
Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.
The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.
The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.
Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.
Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.
Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:
Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).
Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.
Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.
Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.
Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.
Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.
Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.
Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.
Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.
Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.
Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).
Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.
Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.
Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.
PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.