By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Michigan’s high school girls basketball teams wasted no time firing up highlights as their season tipped off last week.
Without giving the rest of this first “Countdown to Calvin” report away, we saw one reigning MHSAA champion fall and another just barely remain unbeaten – while an incredible winning streak ended and a few much shorter but perhaps someday notable ones got started.
Countdown to Calvin is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com. To offer corrections or fill in scores we’re missing, email me at [email protected]. (And remember, new this season: The tournament is now organized by Divisions, 1-4, instead of the traditional Class A-B-C-D.)
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Adrian Lenawee Christian 57, Detroit Country Day 52 – The reigning Class D champion Cougars bounced back off an opening-night loss with a statement downing reigning Class B champ Country Day.
2. Hudson 38, Pittsford 30 – The Tigers put an end to Pittsford’s 106-game regular-season winning streak that stretched back to Jan. 28, 2013.
3. Saginaw Heritage 45, Southfield Arts & Technology 43 – The reigning Class A champion Hawks are favorites for the Division 1 title, but the Warriors look like contenders now as well.
4. Michigan Center 59, Adrian Lenawee Christian 54 – That last season’s Class B semifinalist Cardinals won this opener wasn’t stunning, but it looks even better considering Lenawee Christian’s work later in the week noted above.
5. East Kentwood 52, Muskegon 51 – The Falcons earned a slight upper hand in a matchup of what should be a pair of Division 1 contenders this winter.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
• East Lansing (3-0) – The Trojans graduated the Miss Basketball Award winner off last season’s Class A runner-up team and immediately bounced back to open with a 59-55 win over Division 2 contender Williamston, followed by a big victory over Lansing Waverly and a 66-63 win over last season’s Quarterfinal opponent, Muskegon.
• South Lyon East (2-0) – The Cougars nearly doubled their 2016-17 win total last season in finishing 13-8, and victories last week over Livonia Churchill (47-42) and Canton (50-41) set them up nicely for this week’s test against Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
• Chelsea (2-0) – The Bulldogs began building on last season’s 17-5 finish with wins over Marshall (40-38) and Dearborn Divine Child (54-46), the Marshall win avenging one of last winter’s defeats.
• Hamilton (2-0) – Two straight 20-win seasons and a trip to last winter’s Class B Quarterfinals have the Hawkeyes established among teams to watch. They opened with a 62-42 win over Grand Rapids South Christian, coming off a 19-win season, and then edged Grand Rapids Catholic Central 42-40.
• Whittemore-Prescott (2-0) – The Cardinals won four games all of last season but are halfway to matching that total after opening victories over Posen (50-45) and Fairview (36-35).
• Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (2-0) – Last season’s Class C runner-up opened with a 60-52 win over Division 1 power Clarkston (a Class A quarterfinalist last winter) and 59-55 victory over another impressive Division 3 team, Maple City Glen Lake.
• Ewen-Trout Creek (2-0) – The Panthers opened the season with a 49-45 win over Chassell, one of the only teams to beat them during last winter’s 16-5 run. Ewen-Trout Creek nearly doubled up Lake Linden-Hubbell to close the first week.
• Rudyard (3-0) – The Bulldogs’ fast start last week included double-digit wins over Manistique and Frankfort and a three-pointer, 54-51, over Newberry. Rudyard lost twice last season to Newberry in finishing 9-14, but showed signs of what may be to come by winning a District title.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Waterford Kettering (1-1) at Bloomfield Hills Marian (2-0) – Combined these two went 35-12 last season, and Kettering’s loss last week was by two to reigning Class C champion Detroit Edison.
Tuesday – Negaunee (2-0) at Marquette (2-1) – These likely are two of the best in the Upper Peninsula, with the Redettes’ loss last week by just two to Brighton.
Tuesday – Williamston (1-1) at Wayne Memorial (0-0) – After making the Class A Semifinals a year ago, Wayne’s new lineup gets an early test.
Friday – DeWitt (1-0) at East Lansing (3-0) – This is one of those matchups to always circle; eventually they also meet in the postseason, and often that victor makes a run at the title.
Saturday – Detroit Renaissance (0-1) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (2-0) at Detroit Edison – This might be the most intriguing in-state matchup of the DEPSA Holiday Classic as Renaissance also won its District last year.
Second Half’s weekly “Countdown to Calvin” reports are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart's Scout Nelson makes a move toward the basket against Morley Stanwood in a season-opening win. She went over 1,000 career points last week. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.