Classic Finish Delivers Statewide Stardom

March 15, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – Michigan, meet Bree Salenbien – the Adrian Lenawee Christian freshman who stands as tall as a center, plays like a guard, and made a shot Thursday that most seniors never get a chance to launch.

The 6-foot-2 Cougars standout instantly may have bought herself three more years of statewide expectations by draining the winner in her team’s 46-44 Class D Semifinal overtime win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

But if her full-game performance at Van Noord Arena was an indication, she’ll be up for all of them.

Salenbien’s pull-up jumper from just inside the free throw line with four seconds to play gave her the last of 16 points – and sent her team to its first MHSAA championship game since 2010.

Lenawee Christian (25-1) will face Chassell at 10 a.m. Saturday with a first girls basketball title in school history on the line – and another chance to show a statewide audience more of this phenom and her teammates from the southeastern corner.

“It’s really fun. But I think the whole team is showing the state who we are, not just me,” Salenbien said. “We’ve battled through so many games this year. That one loss helped us this year not want to feel that way again, to battle through everything.

“We knew we’d have to fight like that to the end.”

That lone defeat, by one to Class A Monroe on Jan. 9, clearly was a learning experience for a team with lots of talent but only one senior.

But it will be buried by the memories Salenbien and her teammates continue to make this weekend and the next few years to come.

She finished with eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and six steals to go with those 16 points against a Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart team that was undefeated entering the night and playing in its third straight Semifinals. Salenbien also had to contend at times with Irish 6-foot all-stater Sophia Ruggles, who finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The teams were deadlocked 13 times, and the lead changed 11. Only six points were scored during overtime – two free throws by Ruggles 27 seconds in, followed by two by Salenbien with 1:05 to play and then her game-winner at the end.

Salenbien actually missed a free throw with 12 seconds left in regulation that would’ve given her team a one-point lead. But, as Sacred Heart coach Damon Brown noted, the freshman plays well beyond her years – and was about to show it again.

“She doesn’t always,” said Dani’s father and Lenawee Christian coach, Jamie Salenbien. “But when she does, it’s because of the time she’s put in. All of the kids on this team are committed to fundamentals, the coaching staff preaches it and pushes it, and they’ve bought into it and put a lot of time in when no one was there. But she has a lot of athletic gifts God gave her, and she’s using them now at the young age of 14.

“I’m proud of her hanging tough when she could’ve folded, after missing that free throw especially.”

Sophomore guard Dani Salenbien, Bree’s sister and Jamie’s daughter as well, added 11 points and four blocks.

Lenawee Christian’s “gamers,” as Jamie Salenbien called them, contended with a Sacred Heart lineup returning all five starters from last year’s run. Junior guard Scout Nelson added 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, senior Grace Reetz had five steals and five points – including a late 3-pointer that nearly became the game winner – and seniors Megan Nowak and Hadyn Terwilliger finished with five points and seven rebounds, respectively.

Certainly unexpected, Sacred Heart’s full starting lineup and one senior sub entered the postgame press conference full of smiles and laughter.

The Irish (25-1) went a combined 94-10 over the last four seasons, and wins came off the court as well as on. Brown talked about how he nearly left coaching after the 2013-14 season and the death of his wife, Sacred Heart boys basketball coach Keisha Brown, after her fight with cancer. Last season, the Irish ended their tournament run in the Semifinals on March 16 – three days before the death of Haydn Terwilliger’s mother Denise, who also fought cancer.

“We’ve been through these last four years together, and I think that’s why we’re so happy with each other,” Brown said. “From what we’ve been through, this game in no shape or form defines what this team has been through. We’ve held hands through the darkest times. … What we have here is more important than any score.”

And Reetz took the opportunity to lighten the mood one last time.

“This is kind’ve how our team is,” she said. “We laugh about everything. Sophie had 999 career points. It’s sad, but it’s just kinda humorous. (Ruggles actually finished her career with exactly 1,000.)

“I just feel like we all feel we couldn’t have done anything else out there. It’s just kinda a toss-up. We tried our best, we wanted a state title, but being together is enough for us.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Lenawee Christian’s Bree Salenbien, right, hugs her sister Dani after making the game-winning shot in Thursday’s second Class D Semifinal. (Middle) Bree Salenbien pops a shot as Sophia Ruggles (15), Hadyn Terwilliger (13) and Megan Nowak (4) surround her.

St. George's Senior Season Filled with Historic Trip, Sizzling 3-Point Shooting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 21, 2024

Delaney St. George helped Kingston reach its first MHSAA Girls Basketball Final this winter – and along the way finished her high school career among the most prolific 3-point shooters in state history.

The four-year varsity senior made 87 3-pointers this season for the Division 4 runner-up Cardinals, good to tie for 10th on the single-season list after she made 93 as a junior to rank fourth all-time.

She finished her Kingston career with 290 3-pointers in 793 attempts over 94 games – good for second on the career 3-pointers list.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click on the heading to see the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Hemlock’s 18-6 run this season was fueled in part by more successful 3-point shooting. The Huskies made single-season lists with 170 3-pointers and 552 attempts, and also for making 14 3-pointers Jan. 5 against St. Louis.

Senior Mia McLaughlin made nine of 15 3-point shots for Frankenmuth in a Feb. 6 win over Birch Run as the Eagles made the team record book list with 15 3-pointers total. They also were added for 14 3-pointers in a Feb. 20 win over Bay City John Glenn. McLaughlin will continue her career at Ferris State.

McBain sophomore Peyton Grant scored all 27 of her points Jan. 17 against Houghton Lake on nine 3-pointers to make the single-game list in that category.

Seniors Autumn Tremblay and Ceara LeBlanc earned Brimley’s first girls basketball record book listings this season. Both made single-game lists in a Feb. 27 win over Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian – Tremblay scored 21 points during the first quarter and LeBlanc had 16 steals for the game – and LeBlanc also was added for 141 steals total over 25 games this past winter.

Reed City’s run at the Central State Activities Association title this winter was fueled in part by 3-point shooting. The Coyotes finished one game out of first, but made the records with 517 3-point attempts over 24 games – and just missed the made 3-pointers list connecting on 143.

Howell sophomore Gabrielle Piepho added her third record book listing over her first two seasons this winter making 89.2 percent of her free throw attempts to rank eighth on that single-season list. Howell as a team also made the 3-point attempts list with 536 over 25 games, and also just missed the 3-pointers made list with 146.

Saline finished the 2023-24 season among the all-time leading 3-point shooters again, this time with 192 – 14th-most for one season – in 587 attempts over 24 games. Sophomore Keira Roehm led the way with 78 3-pointers, tying for 21st on that list.

Junior Tamerah Peterson led Sterling Heights Parkway Christian to a District title this season, providing a record-setting defensive boost in addition to her offensive skills. She finished with 173 steals – eighth-most for one season – over 21 games.

Niles Brandywine reached Breslin Center this season with another stellar distance shooting display, making the record book with both 186 3-pointers and 610 attempts from beyond the arc in finishing Division 3 runner-up.

Alie Bisballe capped her career at Lake City this winter by helping her team reach the Division 3 Semifinal at Breslin Center – and by reaching the MHSAA girls basketball record book in two categories. The 6-foot-4 post player made the lists with 329 rebounds and 188 blocked shots, both in 28 games as Lake City finished 25-3. She will continue her career at Wisconsin.

Ironwood junior Hanna Vaughn will enter her final season next winter already on the career 3-pointers list. She’s made 155 3-pointers over her first three seasons and 70 games on varsity.

PHOTO Kingston’s Delaney St. George (10) pulls up for a shot during the Division 4 Final against Ishpeming.