Countdown to Calvin: Regional Preview

March 5, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We're just days removed from one of the most highlight-filled and upset-loaded Girls Basketball District weeks in recent memory. We could spend this entire "Countdown to Calvin" report noting every single game that sent a wave through the brackets.

But the tournament is about advancing and looking ahead, and we've got plenty to preview as Regional Semifinals tip off tonight. 

Below we mention five of the District results that especially made an impression, plus look at three Regionals of particular note in each class – all powered by MI Student Aid. Host sites are bolded, and matchups shown are for Regional Semifinals. (Click for brackets for every Regional in all four classes.)

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. Caledonia 46, East Kentwood 45 – A last-second basket pushed Caledonia past the reigning Class A runner-up and undefeated Falcons after East Kentwood has won the first two meetings between the teams.

2. Manchester 46, Pittsford 45 – In Class C, Manchester ended Pittsford’s winning streak at 76, two wins short of the MHSAA record.

3. Big Rapids 49, Stanton Central Montcalm 34 – In Class B, Big Rapids handed Central Montcalm its only loss after falling twice to the Hornets during the regular season.

4. Dexter 41, Ann Arbor Huron 36 – The Dreadnaughts knocked out a Class A contender in the District opener, ending the River Rats’ 18-game winning streak.

5. Ishpeming Westwood 59, Negaunee 44 – Westwood ended the Class C contender Miners’ perfect season after also falling twice to Negaunee earlier this winter.

Regionals at a Glance

These could be among our most competitive brackets. Host sites are in bold:


Mount Pleasant
Marquette (16-6) vs. Saginaw Heritage (22-1), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (21-2) vs. Davison (11-12)

All three of Heritage’s District opponents last week had winning records, and things of course aren’t going to get easier. Marquette was the Great Northern Conference champion, and Carman-Ainsworth finished second to Heritage in the Saginaw Valley League. The Cavaliers’ losses came to the Hawks 60-44 on Jan. 5 and reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day the next day 65-59. Davison had lost seven of nine to close the regular season, but bounced back at the right time to win three and the title last week.

West Bloomfield
Utica Eisenhower (19-3) vs. Waterford Kettering (16-6), Clarkston (18-4) vs. Bloomfield Hills Marian (18-4)

Eisenhower won the Macomb Area Conference White, Clarkston shared the Oakland Activities Association Red title and Marian shared the Detroit Catholic League Central championship. Kettering only finished second in the Lakes Valley Conference but then won its fifth straight District title. Marian has a 52-38 win over Kettering from Nov. 30 and some tournament experience as well having won the Catholic League A-B title and its seventh straight District championship.

Zeeland East
Caledonia (18-5) vs. Muskegon (21-2), Hudsonville (16-7) vs. East Grand Rapids (20-3)

Caledonia should be riding high after shocking previously undefeated and reigning Class A runner-up East Kentwood last week, and the Fighting Scots ran their winning streak to six in clinching the District title one game later. Next up is Muskegon, which hasn’t lost since Dec. 22 and survived a three-point scare against Grand Haven in their District Final. Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold runner-up East Grand Rapids has won 11 straight, and Hudsonville was one of six teams from the seven-team O-K Red that finished the regular season with a winning record.


Corunna (16-6) vs. Birch Run (20-3), Goodrich (18-4) vs. Freeland (21-2)

Half of the six-team Genesee Area Conference Red won District titles, including champion Goodrich and third-place Corunna. Next up they face two of the best from the Tri-Valley Conference – East champion Birch Run and Central title winner Freeland. The Falcons downed the Panthers 70-55 in a crossover Jan. 30, and also have a 61-43 win over the Martians from Jan. 16.

Comstock Park (19-4) vs. Muskegon Oakridge (20-3), Grand Rapids South Christian (18-4) vs. Howard City Tri-County (15-8)

Oakridge has won six straight West Michigan Conference titles and four Districts during that time, but is seeking its first Regional championship during this string of successes. It won’t come easy if this is the year. Comstock Park won the O-K Blue and has improved 11 wins this season from 2016-17. On the other side of the bracket, South Christian won the O-K Gold and is only two seasons removed from finishing Class B runner-up. And Tri-County is dangerous too; the Vikings claimed a trophy last week after finishing third in the Central State Activities Association Gold behind Stanton Central Montcalm (20-1) and Big Rapids (21-2). 

Ida (19-3) vs. New Boston Huron (20-2), Michigan Center (20-2) vs. Dearborn Henry Ford Academy (16-6)

Ida won the Lenawee County Athletic Association, Huron shared the Huron League title, Michigan Center won the Cascades Conference outright and Henry Ford Academy finished second in the Charter School Conference. Ida finished the regular season with a 19-point win over Huron co-champ Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, and that could be telling. Henry Ford Academy has the most losses for a reason – all but one came against teams that went on to win District titles as well. Michigan Center and New Boston Huron both found success after playing in different classes last year, Michigan Center Class C and Huron in Class A.


Schoolcraft (23-0) vs. Kalamazoo Hackett (15-8), Niles Brandywine (21-2) vs. Bronson (17-6)

Schoolcraft has followed up its Quarterfinal run of a year ago with perfection, including wins of 13 and 18 over Hackett as they finished first and second, respectively, in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley. All but one of the Eagles’ win have been by double digits; that lone single-digit win came 62-61 over Bronson on Dec. 12. The Vikings tied for third in the strong Big 8 Conference and face Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red runner-up Brandywine, which has won Regional titles five of the last six seasons. The Bobcats’ only losses this season were to Class B Comstock (19-2).

Iron River West Iron County (18-4) vs. Ishpeming (19-3), St. Ignace (21-1) vs. Houghton (15-7)

Ishpeming – which finished runner-up to Negaunee in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference – emerged from their District last week after rival Westwood ended the undefeated Miners’ season. Now the Hematites could get their chance to topple another undefeated power; first up is Western Peninsula Athletic Conference runner-up West Iron, but St. Ignace looms on the other side of the bracket. The Saints open with West PAC champ Houghton, annually one of the Upper Peninsula’s best as well. But St. Ignace’s only loss was to reigning Class C champ Detroit Edison, and it put up an impressive 87-56 win on Class B Goodrich (also noted above) on Feb. 10.

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian
Pewamo-Westphalia (22-0) vs. Laingsburg (20-2), Grandville Calvin Christian (11-11) vs. Hemlock (20-3)

Reigning Class C runner-up Pewamo-Westphalia has been all but unstoppable, winning by an average margin of 41 points per game. Springport, falling only 34-27 in the District Final, gave the Pirates by far their toughest test; two teams, including Class A District champ Detroit Renaissance, got within 23 during the regular season. Laingsburg got within 24 on Feb. 15, and both of its losses this season were to P-W – this matchup could be even closer. On the other side, Calvin Christian finished second in the O-K Silver despite playing a number of larger schools. Hemlock won the TVC West, with its losses to Class B Freeland and Birch Run (see above) and league runner-up Saginaw Valley Lutheran. The Huskies made the Quarterfinals last season.


Big Rapids Crossroads Academy
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (22-0) vs. Onekama (12-10), Fruitport Calvary Christian (19-3) vs. Bear Lake (17-5)

Sacred Heart is arguably the favorite to win the entire Class D tournament after falling to reigning champion Pittsford in either the Semifinals or Final the last two seasons. Onekama has been on a roll, though, with five wins in its last six games and seven over its last 10 – with the three losses during that run to Class B Kingsley (23-0) and Benzie Central (17-5) and Class C Maple City Glen Lake (20-2). Bear Lake shared the West Michigan D League title and has rattled off nine wins over its last 10 games. The Lakers open against Alliance League champion Calvary Christian, which has won 15 straight and avenged one of those three losses by beating Muskegon Heights Academy in the District Final.  

Bark River-Harris (17-5) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (13-9), Munising (22-1) vs. Chassell (22-1)

The second game of the night pits the Skyline Central Conference large-school division champion Mustangs against the Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country title winner Chassell. The Panthers haven’t lost since falling to L’Anse by four in their opener. Munising’s lone defeat came Jan. 4 to Gwinn. Tonight’s first game is a rematch of SCC-Large rivals – the teams split 12-point wins, with Forest Park’s coming in the regular-season finale Feb. 22 as part of a six-game winning streak. Bark River-Harris has won nine of its last 11, however.

St. Ignace
Harbor Spring Harbor Light Christian (19-2) vs. Cedarville (19-3), Gaylord St. Mary (21-1) vs. Rudyard (9-13)

Cedarville has taken a big jump this season after going 13-9 a year ago. Not only did the Trojans win the Eastern UP Athletic Conference, but their lone losses were twice to Class C contender St. Ignace and once to Sault Ste. Marie, a Class B District champ. But Northern Lakes Conference champ Harbor Light Christian will provide an immediate challenge this week. Rudyard, which plays in two leagues including the EUP, upset Engadine to win its District and has won five of its last six games. Gaylord St. Mary has won 21 straight, with a perfect run through the Ski Valley Conference, as it looks to get back to the final week of the season after falling in its Regional Final by three points a year ago.

PHOTO: Unionville-Sebewaing celebrates its Class C District title after defeating Cass City in overtime last week. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

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:

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.