Class C: Mohawks get their title shot
March 15, 2012
EAST LANSING – Morley-Stanwood coach Bob Raven said his team has been knocking on the Breslin Center door for a long time.
Clichés aside, the top-ranked Mohawks finally have busted right through.
After four Quarterfinal tries over the last seven seasons, Morley-Stanwood broke through on their fifth attempt earlier this week. And by knocking off reigning Class C champion St. Ignace 60-50 in Thursday’s Semifinal, the Mohawks have earned their first opportunity to play for an MHSAA championship.
"I think we have the experience this year for sure. All of our tournament games have been tough, and we weren't as nervous as we've been in past games," Huntey said. "It's definitely exciting to be here. But then again, you have to make sure you stay calm, do what you've always done and be prepared for the next game."
Morley-Stanwood (27-0) will face No. 9 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (23-4) in the Class C Final at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Mohawks won their 11th straight league and seventh-straight District championships earlier this year. But Breslin was a foreign building, while St. Ignace was quite familiar with it after also finishing Class C runner-up in 2010.
“I think St. Ignace had the advantage having played down here,” Raven said. “But I wouldn’t trade this group of girls for anybody.”
All-state seniors Bailey Cairnduff and Alexis Huntey also led the Morley-Stanwood volleyball team to the Class C championship in the fall. They and senior guard Elyse Starck took over Thursday when it was needed most.
Cairnduff broke a 38-38 tie with a basket and free throw with 7:20 to play. She scored 10 of her game-high 28 points during the fourth quarter, and Starck had 10 of her 19 points over the final eight minutes as well as the two combined to score 20 of the team’s 22 points in the final period. Huntey scored only a point in the fourth quarter, but had four rebounds and two assists. She finished with 11 points and five assists.
The Mohawks made 60 percent of their shots from the floor during the second half.
“We definitely got beat tonight by a team that was on fire,” St. Ignace co-coach Dorene Ingalls said. “We went through some things for Morley, but we would’ve liked one more day to prepare. They caught us on that back-door cut way too much. But I thought we battled back.”
Sophomore guards Kelley Wright and Emily Hinsman both scored 12 points to lead the Saints (25-1). Senior Lauren Goldthorpe – who began playing basketball seriously only three seasons ago and earned all-state special mention this season – had 11 points, six rebounds and four steals.
St. Ignace presented Morley-Stanwood with the toughest press defense the Mohawks had seen this season. Now they’ll take on Miss Basketball Madison Ristovski and the team that fell to St. Ignace in last season’s Final.
“We’ll definitely have a great game on our hands. We’ll have to play hard and take care of the ball and do what we do best, and I think we’ll be all right,” Starck said. “It’s always been our dream to even be here. And to make the state Finals is absolutely a blessing for our team and our community.”
Click for the box score. Watch the game and both teams' postgame press conferences at MHSAA.tv.
PHOTO: Morley-Stanwood senior guard Elyse Starck takes a shot Thursday. She scored 19 points. (Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.)
Teams of the Month: Hart Girls & Boys Basketball
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 23, 2023
Few communities in Michigan this winter celebrated as many sizable basketball achievements as small-town Hart.
The 2,000-resident Oceana County seat, about seven miles off the Lake Michigan shore and sitting about 20 miles south of Ludington and 30 north of Muskegon, celebrated accomplishments by both its girls and boys basketball teams that carried statewide significance – and made choosing either over the other’s impossible.
The Hart girls and boys basketball teams are the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Teams of the Month” for February, and this announcement is coming toward the end of March as both just kept winning and adding to their season-long lists of feats.
The Pirates girls made the first major headline when they defeated second-place Mason County Central 51-32 on Feb. 10 to clinch the outright West Michigan Conference Rivers championship. The Hart girls had also won the formerly one-division WMC in 2021-22, and this year’s run ran their league winning streak to 31 games.
Then the boys took their turn, clinching a share of the Rivers championship Feb. 17 with a 67-51 win over North Muskegon and then the title outright by defeating Mason County Central 63-45 on Feb. 23. This league title received some statewide buzz as it was the Hart boys’ first since 1963.
A week later, Hart’s boys finished a 22-0 regular season – becoming the only boys team, and joined by only three girls teams – to go 22-0 this first season that MHSAA member schools were allowed to play 22 games instead of the previous longtime maximum of 20.
The Hart boys then drew into one of the strongest Districts in the state in any division, with the Division 2 group at Big Rapids including four league champions. The Pirates opened with a win over the host Cardinals – winners of the Central State Activities Association – before ending their season at 23-1 with a loss to Big North Conference co-champ Cadillac in the District Final.
The Pirates girls, meanwhile, had clinched their Division 3 District with a third win over Mason County Central, and then won a Regional by edging two-time reigning Finals runner-up Kent City 37-34 – in the process also avenging Hart’s first loss of this season, from Dec. 20. The Regional title was the Hart girls' first since 1992.
Next up was 23-1 Buchanan – and Hart made its biggest statewide splash by handing the Bucks a 45-41 Quarterfinal defeat that sent the Pirates to the MHSAA Girls Basketball Semifinals for the first time.
Hart would end up falling to eventual champion Hemlock 57-26 at Breslin Center, finishing the season 24-4.
“I said it the other day: We’re kinda overlooked. Last year we had a really good team, probably one injury away from another run like this,” said Hart girls basketball coach Travis Rosema during the press conference after the Semifinal. “It started with people investing into the girls. Now that players like Aspen (Boutell) and Abbey (Hicks) have made this run, I saw so many young faces. … We left this morning, the elementary school was packed, and every kid had a sign. It’s a positive impact (and) it’s going to be a lot moving forward.”
The Pirates girls were keyed by Hicks, a junior, sophomore Addi Hovey and Boutell, one of three senior starters.
The boys were paced by senior Parker Hovey, who went over 1,000 points for his career and will continue at Hope College.
Past Teams of the Month, 2022-23
January: Taylor Trillium Academy bowling - Report
December: Byron Center hockey - Report
November: Martin football - Report
October: Gladwin volleyball - Report
September: Negaunee girls tennis - Report
(PHOTOS by Kara Raeth/CatchMark SportsNet.)