By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
GRAND RAPIDS – The eras come and go as standouts cycle through coach Frank Orlando’s Detroit Country Day program.
Win or lose Saturday, another will close as all-staters Kaela Webb and Maxine Moore play their final high school game attempting to lead the Yellowjackets to a third Class B championship over the last four seasons.
They earned that opportunity with a 70-54 win over previously undefeated Kingsley in the second Class B Semifinal on Friday at Van Noord Arena.
“It’s truly a blessing. Me and her have been together since sixth, seventh grade, and we always talked about winning state titles,” Moore said. “Our sophomore year was heartbreaking (a Semifinal loss to Grand Rapids South Christian). But it was a goal of ours coming in here to work hard every day, go hard especially on defense – we know defense is the key to winning championships – and I’m just really excited and blessed to go out there tomorrow and compete.”
Reigning title winner Country Day will take on Jackson Northwest in the 6:15 p.m. championship game at Calvin College.
It was a Semifinal full of seniors. Although Country Day’s are only Webb, Moore and Destini Lewis, Webb has started all four years of her high school career and Moore is a four-year varsity player and three-year starter.
Kingsley, meanwhile, saw six seniors finish their careers with their only defeat this season after leading the team to its second Semifinal ever and first since 2008.
“As a senior, it’s just an amazing feeling to get here and be part of such an amazing team,” Stags senior Lindsey Boyajian said. “The seniors this year, we came together and we were just like a family. The whole team was a family. It was so exciting. To end my season, as a senior, to make it to Calvin, it was just great.”
The game was nearly a draw through a quarter, with Country Day (22-4) leading only 14-12 heading into the second. But the Yellowjackets broke out for a 29-16 advantage over the next eight minutes – the eventual difference as the teams played to a near-deadlock over the final two quarters as well.
The most telling stats dealt with turnovers – and their results. Kingsley gave away the ball 22 times, compared to 12 for Country Day. And Country Day scored 33 points off those turnovers, while Kingsley managed just six off their takeaways.
Although the teams shot nearly identical percentages from the floor, and Kingsley outrebounded the Yellowjackets by three, the Stags (26-1) made only 1 of 12 tries from 3-point range – negating something else that usually is a strength.
“We got beat at our own game,” Kingsley coach Matt Schelich said. “Thirty-three to six off turnovers, that’s our ammo. But we ran into a team that’s got incredible size and speed, and as a team there’s not a lot of weak spots out there.”
Junior Maddie Novak scored a game-high 20 points for Country Day, while Webb had 15 points, eight assists and four steals. Moore added 11 points and seven rebounds and junior Adrian Folks had 10 points.
Webb finished with four fouls but managed to play 31 minutes, second on her team.
“I’ve been here and I know how it gets when the crowd gets into it. … I knew we had to stick together,” Webb said. “What was more important was stopping them from scoring, and me fouling was going to help them score. I had to just lock down mentally with that.”
Brumfield had 14 points for Kingsley despite seeing only 12 minutes of action because of foul trouble as well. Senior Rebekah Crosby had 12 points and seven rebounds and sophomore Brittany Bowman had 11 points.
PHOTOS: (Top) Country Day’s Kaela Webb pushes the ball up the floor Friday while Lacey Benton (10) keeps pace. (Middle) Kingsley’s Jacie King drives toward an opening with Jasmine Power defending.
STAMBAUGH — Danica Shamion has enjoyed plenty of success in track & field throughout her high school athletic career.
The West Iron County senior is also quite successful in basketball.
Shamion joined the 1,000-point club here Jan. 23 while scoring 34 in a 63-60 loss to Norway.
“That really felt good,” she said after last week’s 93-41 win over Bessemer on Senior Night. “I’m glad I was able to do that at home. Although, it would have been even better had we won that game.”
The Wykons scored five in double digits against the Speedgirls, led by senior Siena Stine with 20 points. Junior center Sidney Storti added 17 points, and Shamion finished with 16 points and 17 assists.
“Sidney is a real asset to our team,” Shamion said. “I can see the floor pretty well, and the other girls are doing a pretty good job getting open. This was our last home game. It definitely meant something to us.”
Shamion, an All-Upper Peninsula Division 1-3 first-team selection a year ago, twisted her ankle in a season-opening 47-40 triumph over Iron Mountain and missed the next three games.
West Iron was 1-3 going into the holiday break before getting back on track with a 42-28 victory over Kingsford on Jan. 2. That enabled the Wykons to improve to 4-3 before dropping six of their next seven games.
West Iron, which was 5-9 after dropping a 73-55 decision at Negaunee, had won four in a row prior to Thursday’s 46-44 loss at Calumet. But the Wykons bounced back with a 51-49 win over Ishpeming Westwood on Tuesday to get back to .500 at 10-10.
“We were trying to forge our identity and weren’t hitting our shots (earlier in the season),” Shamion said. “Although, we’ve been playing better defense lately. We’re pretty good one-on-one and usually play man-to-man. We try to run the floor and score in transition.
“Negaunee is probably the best team we’ve seen this year, although Ishpeming and Houghton are also very good and Calumet and Westwood are tough,” she added.
In track & field, Shamion set U.P. Division 2 Finals record in the 200-meter dash (26.34 seconds) and 400 (57.18) last season. She also won the 100 (12.79) and placed second in high jump at 4 feet, 10 inches. She is a three-time Finals champion in all three sprint races.
Shamion also made the all-U.P. Volleyball Dream Team in the fall.
She will continue on the track at Central Michigan University after she graduates from West Iron this spring.
“I didn’t know much about their program, but I was interested in what they had to offer,” she said. “The girls on the team are nice, which is part of the reason why I chose Central. It’s a relief to have that decided.”
John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
PHOTOS (Top) West Iron’s Danica Shamion (24) blocks a shot during her team’s game at Ishpeming on Jan. 15. (Middle) Shamion maintains possession of the ball. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)