Country Day Adds to Coach's 50th Run

March 17, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Frank Orlando’s 50th season as a high school coach has been much like many of them – he’s enjoyed another championship contender, led by multiple all-staters, and he’ll bring that team into the final day of the season once again.

But there could be something a little special as Detroit Country Day’s longtime girls basketball leader closes a half century on the bench.

Orlando couldn’t hold back every tear talking about it briefly Friday, after a few laughs when star Destiny Pitts hushed him for giving away the team’s defensive secrets, and as the Yellowjackets decompressed from eliminating reigning Class B champion Marshall 46-42 in their Semifinal matchup.

They’ll face either Freeland or Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in Saturday’s championship game at the Breslin Center, seeking a 12th MHSAA title over Orlando’s 36 seasons leading the program – another piece of hardware to add to a tradition this latest group has maintained.

“I don’t know if you remember last year, but I told you we’d be back here,” recalled Pitts, referencing her prediction after the Yellowjackets fell in a Semifinal in 2016. “Coach O’s 50th year is just so important to us, and getting the tradition instilled in our seniors so we can pass it down to the juniors and sophomores and freshmen. … It’s important to bring (the title) back to our friends, our school and our teachers, because they all believe in us.”

Friday’s Semifinal wasn’t decided until the final minute, something that might’ve seemed to favor Marshall after it won its Semifinal last season with two last-second free throws on the way to claiming the program’s first MHSAA title the next day.

But it was Country Day’s turn after the 2015 champ fell two wins short a year ago.

After Marshall led most of the second quarter, the Yellowjackets (25-1) led most of the third and fourth.

Redhawks senior Jill Konkle – one of four returning starters from last season’s team – scored with 1:48 to play to give Marshall a two-point edge. But the rest belonged to the Yellowjackets.

Junior guard Kaela Webb scored and then made two free throws to give her team a two-point lead with 44 seconds to play. Pitts added two more free throws for the final margin. In between, senior Tylar Bennett and junior Maxine Moore blocked Marshall shots, ending this season’s attempt at last-minute drama.

“They never quit, they kept their heads up and they kept playing hard, and that’s all I can say – they never gave up ever once,” Orlando said. “We worked hard on blocking. When they were coming, we told (our players) to wait, wait, wait, and then block. But don’t go after them right away because they are too good at what they do (with head fakes).”

The defensive stand characterized one of the key changes Webb described from last season’s team. In addition to more aggressiveness on that side of the court, these Yellowjackets also have shared the ball more, averaging more than 15 assists per game even as they had just 10 Friday.

It truly was strength on strength, as Country Day used only two subs for a total of eight minutes and Marshall used one sub for nine. Pitts led the Yellowjackets with 13 points and five assists and Bennett added 10 points as all five starters scored at least five.

Konkle and senior forward Nikki Tucker both scored 13 points to lead Marshall (23-3), and junior guard Natalie Tucker had nine points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

The Redhawks’ loss brought to an end a two-season 49-4 run that made a nice statement on the value of team basketball in a class where contenders often have one or more stars.

“I think the biggest thing is last year we proved to a lot of people that you don’t need DI (college) players,” said Tucker, who will play Division II hoops next season. “We aren’t a team that’s extra tall. We’re not a team that super quick. We’re not a team that’s crazy athletic. But we work together and we move the ball and we make shots when we need to make shots, and that’s all you need to do to play basketball. I don’t need a million DI commits when I have a great team.”

Marshall graduates five seniors who have been touted in their community since elementary school, and proved those high expectations correct last season. Redhawks coach Sal Konkle – also Jill’s mother – thought that was heaping a bit much on the youngsters at the time, but in the end this truly was a defining group.  

“They have really instilled a work ethic in this program – we’ve always worked hard, but this is an extra special group that works extremely hard,” Sal Konkle said. “They just plain and simple do what you ask them to do, and they do it 100 miles an hour and with 100 percent effort all the time.

“What’s they’ve done is left a legacy for our team in the future here. The freshmen and the sophomores and the juniors on our team this year, they know how hard you have to work to get results, and they know how hard you have to work to reach your goals. We will still have lofty goals next year, and they’re going to have to work hard like these kids did.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Country Day’s Destiny Pitts works to get past Marshall’s Georgianna Pratley during Friday’s Class B Semifinal. (Middle) Redhawks senior Nikki Tucker drives to the basket.

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.