Cousino Makes Name in Semifinal Debut

March 18, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – By at least some in the know, little was expected of Warren Cousino and Hudsonville heading into this MHSAA Tournament – both entered unranked.

Both then won Regional titles for the first time last week, and extended dream seasons with a Semifinal matchup Friday that was going to end with one getting to play for the ultimate goal for the first time. 

By the end of the first quarter, Cousino – often mispronounced, but reads like a member of a family – left little doubt which team would get that opportunity.

Riding the powerful drives of junior guard Kierra Fletcher – whose 37 points tied for third most in MHSAA Semifinals history – the Patriots carried that early jumpstart to a 60-45 win and a return trip to East Lansing on Saturday.

“We came into this tournament and we knew we were sleepers,” Fletcher said. “We just wanted to prove everyone in the state wrong because half of Michigan calls our school ‘casino’ or ‘coosino,’ so we’re happy getting Cousino on map. I think we’ll go far … next year and years on because of this.”

Cousino will take on No. 4 Detroit Martin Luther King at noon Saturday in the Class A Final, facing a program seeking its sixth title and with much more experience at this late date in the season. 

But it was impossible to tell the Patriots (22-4) were newcomers in their Breslin debut.

Fletcher made 14 of 20 shots from the floor as her team connected on 50 percent as a whole. She also grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists, driving and dishing to shooters on the perimeter who took advantage.

Freshman guard Kate McArthur added 13 points and made three 3-pointers, and freshman guard Mackenzie Cook made her only try from beyond the arc. 

With Fletcher scoring eight points, Cousino as a team jumped to an 11-0 lead off the tip. Hudsonville sophomore Kasey DeSmit’s 3-pointer with 2:29 to play in the first quarter cut a 10-point lead to seven – but that was the last time the margin was in single digits.

“We set the tone early on as far as defensively, and it helps when you hit your first four shots you take,” Cousino coach Mike Lee said. “Kate set the tone especially from the outside range, and Kierra set the tone from the inside part of it.”

He could tell the afternoon might turn out well after his team brought a focused but light approach to the bus ride to Breslin. 

Lee told his players that Hudsonville would be just as nervous. But Cousino seemed to turn any anxiety into intensity. 

“We set that aggressive tone because we were faster and we had more athletes,” Fletcher said. “And I think our mindsets were just right at the time.”

The teams played nearly evenly after Cousino finished the first quarter with a 21-8 lead. Hudsonville took advantage of its size in the post, with 5-foot-10 senior forward Shaina DenBesten finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds and 6-0 junior center Chloe Guingrich adding 12 and 10, respectively.

Friday’s end was an incredible one for the Eagles (23-4), who were 2-19 two seasons ago and then 15-9 last winter. 

“For us, we’ve been in situations where we’ve had to play from behind, but I don’t know if we’ve ever had a situation where we’ve been that far behind and had to come back,” Hudsonville coach Casey Glass said. “I’m just proud of these kids, because I think at the beginning of the year no one would have ever given us a chance to be right here.”

Probably not Cousino either. But Friday showed the Patriots have the ability to achieve more. 

“For a little school like Warren Cousino to finally get over that hurdle,” Lee said, “I’m pretty proud today.”

Click for the full box score.

The Girls Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Warren Cousino players celebrate at the end of their Class A Semifinal win Friday. (Middle) Cousino’s Kierra Fletcher (3) bursts into the lane while a Hudsonville player defends.

Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.

Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.

“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”

The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”

It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.

“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”

Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.

The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.

“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”

Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game. 

That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.

“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”

Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.

“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”

Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.

Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic. 

“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.