Class C: Knights will Return to Final
March 15, 2012
EAST LANSING – Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett is the only Class C Semifinalist that didn’t bring a perfect record to the Breslin Center on Thursday. The No. 9-ranked Knights have lost four times, including in their final game before the start of the District tournament.
But a loss to end 2011 pushed the Knights through those momentary disappointments and back into the season’s final day for the second year in a row.
University Liggett finished Class C runner-up a year ago in its first MHSAA Final appearance. But the Knights now need just one more win to finish a year-long quest for their championship.
They earned that opportunity with a 49-27 win over No. 2 Concord in the day's first Semifinal.
“Last year we lost and it was pretty heart-breaking. Everyone was pretty upset. But throughout the course of the year it motivated us because we wanted to be here as bad as anything,” said senior guard Madison Ristovski, who was named the state’s Miss Basketball on Monday.
“So yeah, we feel pressure. But at the same time, we want it so bad that it overrides it.”
University Liggett (23-4) will face No. 1 Morley-Stanwood (27-0) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. Final.
Ristovski, who has signed with the University of Michigan, is arguably the best-known player at Breslin this weekend – and the regular catalyst for the Knights over the last few seasons.
But Thursday, junior sister Haleigh Ristovski got University Liggett rolling.
She made her first 3-pointer with the Knights trailing by five points seven minutes into the game. But she finished with six 3-pointers – and 22 points, 12 above her average – along with four steals.
"We just tried to pick it up," Haleigh Ristovski said. "Once I hit the first one, I knew I was going to make more. I just felt it.”
Along with freshman sister Lola, the Ristovskis scored University Liggett’s first 37 points before junior Julie DeRoo scored with 1:30 to go in the third quarter. Madison Ristovski finished with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists and Lola had six steals.
The teams were tied after the first quarter, but the Knights built a 30-17 lead by the end of the second.
"Sometimes in our games, we start off a little slow. It takes one good shot, one good block, and everybody looks at each other and says, 'All right, now it's time. Let's go,'" Madison Ristovski said. "I'm not going to lie. We were probably a little nervous coming out. But as soon as Haleigh knocked down that first 3, it was like 'All right, here it is. Let's go.'
"It's not the first time she's done that. I've seen her hit seven, eight before."
Concord finished 26-1. Junior Megan Redman had eight points. Junior Maycee Brigham added seven.
They are two of eight juniors who will work to get back to Breslin next season. The Yellow Jackets started four juniors Thursday, and had only three seniors on the roster.
"I'd say that we got a lot farther than we thought (we would)," Brigham said. "We set our minds to get here, and I think it was just a great experience to play here."
Click for the box score. Watch the game and both teams' postgame press conferences at MHSAA.tv.
PHOTO: University Liggett junior Haleigh Ristovski drives for two of her game-high 22 points Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.)
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.