D1 Preview: Powers Ready to Prevail

March 21, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This weekend’s Division 1 girls basketball bracket is filled with stars and storylines.

All four semifinalists have won at least 20 games, and none has lost more than four. Last season’s Class A champ is back, as is another semifinalist and a semifinalist from two years ago – while the fourth team is playing this late for the first time.

Two semifinalists feature Miss Basketball Award finalists. All four teams have at least one player who earned all-state recognition last season.

Division 1 Semifinals  Friday
Saginaw Heritage (23-2) vs. Wayne Memorial (24-2), Noon
Southfield Arts & Technology (23-1) vs. Muskegon (21-4), 2 p.m.

Division 1 Final – Saturday, 12:15 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Divisions 4 and 1). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit and streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.

Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)

21-4, No. 10
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Black
Coach: Rodney Walker, fifth season (72-20)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 53-51 over No. 5 DeWitt in Quarterfinal, 67-46 over East Kentwood in Regional Semifinal, 52-47 over honorable mention Grand Haven in District Quarterfinal, 55-50 over Division 3 No. 8 Kent City.
Players to watch: Alyza Winston, 5-6 sr. G (24.5 ppg, 39 3-pointers, 3.2 apg, 3.3 spg); Brianna Alexander, 5-2 sr. G (8.7 ppg, 2.6 spg, 2.5 apg).
Outlook: Muskegon reached the Quarterfinals last season for the first time and now will play in its first Semifinal. Winston was a Miss Basketball Award finalist and will continue her career at Michigan State, and the lineup is bolstered by three more contributors averaging at least 6.8 ppg. Four seniors and a junior start and have led the team to 17 straight wins on the court, with the East Kentwood victory avenging a season-opening loss.

23-2, No. 3
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley League Red 
Coach: Vonnie DeLong, sixth season (130-16)
Championship history: Class A champion 2018 & 2002, runner-up 2001.
Best wins: 49-34 over No. 4 Midland Dow in Regional Final, 55-53 over No. 7 East Lansing, 45-43 over No. 1 Southfield Arts & Technology, 65-52 over Division 2 No. 9 Harper Woods Chandler Park, 51-31 over Division 2 No. 7 Freeland.
Players to watch: Moira Joiner, 5-9 sr. G (18.8 ppg, 40 3-pointers, 3.2 apg); Shine Strickland-Gills, 6-1 sr. F (12.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg).
Outlook: Last season’s Class A champion returns to Van Noord with Joiner, Strickland-Gills and senior guard Mallory McCartney (10.5 ppg, 40 3-pointers, 3.1 apg) again leading the way. Joiner was a Miss Basketball Award finalist and also will play next at MSU, while Strickland-Gills was a star of last season’s championship game and will continue at Central Michigan. She and McCartney earned all-state honorable mentions last season while Joiner was the Class A Player of the Year. McCartney will continue her career at Ferris State.

23-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Michele Marshall, 24th season (417-133)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 67-36 over No. 9 Grosse Pointe North in Regional Final, 57-25 over Detroit Mumford in District Final, 50-30 and 60-47 over Royal Oak.
Players to watch: Alexis Johnson, 5-10 sr. F (19.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg); Cheyenne McEvans, 5-10 jr. G (17.1 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.5 spg).
Outlook: Southfield A&T will play in the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons and three years as a school (made up of the former Southfield High and Southfield-Lathrup). Johnson – who will continue her career at Marshall University – made the all-state first team last season and McEvans earned an honorable mention, and senior guard Soleil Barnes (11.4 ppg) adds another double-digit scoring boost. The Warriors’ lone loss came by two to Heritage on Dec. 8, and they could meet again Saturday.

24-2, No. 6
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association East and overall 
Coach: Jarvis Mitchell, fifth season (79-37)
Championship history: Has not played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 50-28 over Temperance Bedford in Quarterfinal, 53-35 over Ann Arbor Pioneer in Regional Final, 61-48 over Brighton, 61-33 over Division 2 No. 6 Williamston.
Players to watch: Jeanae Terry, 5-10 sr. G (20.3 ppg, 51 3-pointers, 7.0 rpg, 8.0 apg, 3.2 spg, 1.8 bpg); Sammiyah Hoskin, 5-8 sr. G (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.8 spg).
Outlook: Wayne graduated a Miss Basketball finalist off last season’s Semifinals team, but brings back the other four starters and top sub from the most successful team in program history. Terry earned an all-state honorable mention last winter and will continue at Illinois. Both of Wayne’s losses were to Division 2 power Detroit Edison. Senior forward Jayah Hicks adds 10.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.4 assists per game, and total seven players average at least 6.8 ppg.

PHOTO: Southfield’s Alexis Johnson is defended by a pair of St. Clair Shores Lakeview players during Tuesday’s Quarterfinal. (Photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)

High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

July 11, 2024

Jareica Hughes had a Hall of Fame collegiate basketball career playing at University of Texas-El Paso and has played professionally overseas, but her most prized possession is something she earned playing high school basketball in Michigan. 

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosA standout at now-closed Southfield-Lathrup High School during the early-to-mid 2000s, Hughes proudly displays a signature symbol of Lathrup’s Class A championship team in 2005. 

“I have my state championship ring on me right now,” said Hughes, now an assistant head coach for the women’s basketball program at UTEP. “I wear this ring every single day. Not so much for the basketball aspect. Inside of the ring it says ‘Hoop Squad.’ It’s more the connection I’ve had with those particular young ladies. Friends that I’ve known since I was kid. Every once in a while when we talk, we go back in time.”

Believe it or not, Hughes and her high school teammates next year will have to go back 20 years to commemorate a run to the title that started when they were freshmen. 

It was a gradual build-up to what was the first girls basketball state championship won by a public school in Oakland County. Lathrup, which has since merged with the former Southfield High School to form Southfield Arts & Technology, remained the only public school in Oakland County to win a state girls basketball title until West Bloomfield did so in 2022 and again this past March. 

Lathrup lost in the District round to Bloomfield Hills Marian during Hughes’ freshman year, and then after defeating Marian in a District Final a year later, lost to West Bloomfield in a Regional Final.

When Hughes was a junior, the team got to the state’s final four, but a bad third quarter resulted in a heartbreaking one-point Semifinal loss to eventual champion Lansing Waverly. 

A year later, when Hughes and other core players such as Brittane Russell, Timika Williams, Dhanmite’ Slappey and Briana Whitehead were seniors, they finished the job and won the Class A crown with a 48-36 win over Detroit Martin Luther King in the Final.

However, the signature moment of that title run actually came during the Semifinal round and was produced by Hughes, a playmaking wizard at point guard who made the team go. 

Trailing by three points during the waning seconds of regulation against Grandville and Miss Basketball winner Allyssa DeHaan – a dominant 6-foot-8 center – Hughes drained a tying 3-pointer from the wing that was well beyond the 3-point line. 

Lathrup went on to defeat Grandville in overtime and prevail against King.

Hughes said the year prior, she passed up on taking a potential winning or tying shot in the Semifinal loss against Waverly, and was reminded of that constantly by coaches and teammates. “I just remember in the huddle before that shot, that just kept ringing in my mind,” she said. “That was special. I cried for weeks not being able to get a shot off (the year before) and leaving the tournament like that.”

Growing up in Detroit, Hughes got into basketball mainly because she had five older brothers and an older sister who played the game. In particular, Hughes highlights older brother Gabriel for getting her into the game and taking her from playground to playground.

“I’m from Detroit,” she said. “We played ball all day long. Sunup to sundown. When the light comes on, you had to run your butt into the house.”

Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center.Hughes played for the Police Athletic League and also at the famed St. Cecilia gym in the summer, developing her game primarily against boys.

“My first team was on a boys team,” she said. “I was a captain on a boys team.” 

The family moved into Lathrup’s district before she began high school. 

Once she helped lead Lathrup to the 2005 championship, she went on to a fine career at UTEP, where she was the Conference USA Player of the Year twice and helped lead the Miners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Hughes still holds school records for career assists (599), steals (277) and minutes played (3,777). On Monday, she was named to Conference USA’s 2024 Hall of Fame class. 

After a brief professional career overseas was derailed by a shoulder injury, Hughes said getting into coaching was a natural fit. 

“I had to make the hard decision, and I knew as a kid I wanted to be around basketball,” she said. “Once I made that decision (to quit), I knew I was going to coach.”

Hughes started coaching in the Detroit area, first serving as an assistant at Southfield A&T from 2016-20 and then at Birmingham Groves for a season. She then served as interim head coach at Colby Community College in Kansas before being named an assistant at UTEP in May 2023, a month after her former coach Keitha Adams returned to lead the program after six seasons at Wichita State.  

While fully immersed in her job with UTEP, Hughes’ high school memories in Michigan certainly aren’t going away anytime soon – especially with the 20th anniversary of Lathrup’s championship coming up. 

“We are still close friends because we all essentially grew up together,” she said. “They are still my friends to this day.”

2024 Made In Michigan

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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Southfield-Lathrup’s Jareica Hughes drives to the basket against Detroit Martin Luther King during the 2005 Class A Final; at right, Hughes coaches this past season at UTEP. (Middle) Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center. (UTEP photo courtesy of the UTEP sports information department.)