This weekend’s Division 2 Finals bracket might have the most pre-packaged storylines of any of the four divisions that will celebrate girls champions this weekend at Breslin Center.
Detroit Edison returns after the last two seasons were cut short, seeking to add a fourth title in six years with another Miss Basketball leading the way. Detroit Country Day owns the most Finals championships in girls basketball history and is seeking its first since 2018.
Grand Rapids West Catholic hopes to follow the Miss Basketball runner-up to its first championship in more than three decades. And Ludington, making its first appearance at Finals weekend, is looking to add more firsts to a historic run.
DIVISON 2 Semifinals – Friday
Grand Rapids West Catholic (24-1) vs. Detroit Country Day (14-7), 5:30 p.m.
Detroit Edison (17-3) vs. Ludington (20-5), 7:30 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday – 6:15 p.m.
Tickets for this weekend’s games are $12 for both Semifinals and Finals and are available via the Breslin Center ticket office. All Semifinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription to MHSAA.tv, and all four Finals will air live Saturday on Bally Sports Detroit’s primary channel as well as on the BSD website and app. Audio broadcasts of all Semifinals and Finals will be available free of charge from the MHSAA Network.
Here’s a look at the four Division 2 semifinals (with rankings by MPR and statistics through Regional Finals):
DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/rank: 13-7, No. 28
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Jerica Williams, second season (28-10)
Championship history: Thirteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2018), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-55 over Marysville in Quarterfinal, 54-39 over St. Clair Shores Lakeview, 47-45 over Division 4 No. 11 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist.
Players to watch: Jaidyn Elam, soph F (13.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 spg); Emma Arico, soph. G (8.9 ppg, 3.4 apg); Ari’Yana Wiggins, fr. F (9.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Outlook: Four starters are back from the team that made last season’s Semifinals, with Elam and Arico joined by junior guard Aysia Yokely (8.6 ppg) and sophomore forward Peja Liles (4.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg). The Yellowjackets have all of that experience and still no seniors, with Elam also having made the all-state second team last season and Arico earning an honorable mention. Country Day saw its share of tough opponents, with six of its seven losses coming against teams that ended up with 14 or more wins.
Record/rank: 17-3, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Monique Brown, 10th season (177-40)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2019).
Best wins: 53-35 over No. 3 Portland in Quarterfinal, 85-43 over No. 2 Redford Westfield Prep, 67-44 over Division 1 No. 3 Farmington Hills Mercy, 60-32 over Division 1 No. 13 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 60-47 over Division 1 No. 11 Parma Western, 68-30 over Division 1 No. 14 East Lansing, 67-48 over Division 1 No. 1 Hudsonville, 60-52 over Division 3 No. 1 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
Players to watch: Ruby Whitehorn, 6-0 sr. G (23.9 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, 4.5 spg, 2.1 bpg); NaKiya Bonner, 5-6 soph. G (8.2 ppg, 5.5 apg); Madisen Wardell, 6-1 sr. F (13.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
Outlook: After last season’s undefeated team was sidelined during Districts by COVID-19, Edison is back looking to add to its three straight Finals championships won from 2017-19. Whitehorn, who has signed with Clemson, gave her program its fourth-straight Miss Basketball Award winner earlier this week, and Wardell will continue her career at DePaul. Edison’s only losses were to Division 1 semifinalist West Bloomfield, Indiana state champion South Bend Washington and Illinois power Joliet West. All but one of the Pioneers’ in-state opponents finished with a winning record this winter.
GRAND RAPIDS WEST CATHOLIC
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 8
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue
Coach: Jill VanderEnde, eighth season (119-69)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1990), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 82-27 over No. 6 Edwardsburg in Quarterfinal, 55-29 over No. 20 Newaygo in Regional Final, 55-43 over Grand Rapids Christian in Regional Semifinal, 64-29 over Grand Rapids Catholic Central in District Final, 63-23 over No. 13 Sparta.
Players to watch: Abbey Kimball, 5-10 sr. G (25.1 ppg, 97 3-pointers, 3.0 apg, 4.4 spg); Cadence Dykstra, 5-9 jr. G (8.2 ppg, 4.5 apg); Elisha Dykstra, 5-10 fr. F (8.3 ppg).
Outlook: West Catholic is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since 1995, when it finished Class B runner-up. Kimball was the Miss Basketball runner-up and added three more 3-pointers Tuesday – the Michigan State signee’s 100 are tied for second-most in a single season in MHSAA history and five off the record. Freshman guard Anna Ignatoski adds 7.8 points off the bench and was the team’s leading scorer in the Quarterfinal win over the Eddies. The team’s only loss was Dec. 23 to Division 1 semifinalist Rockford.
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 45
League finish: Tied for first in the Lakes 8 Activities Conference.
Coach: Warren Stowe, second season (34-10)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 30-27 over No. 5 Frankenmuth in Quarterfinal, 34-31 over Negaunee in Regional Final, 54-36 over Standish-Sterling in Regional Semifinal, 38-33 over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian.
Players to watch: Keelyn Laird, 6-3 jr. F (10.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.2 apg); RyAnn Rohrer, 5-10 sr. F (10.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.2 apg, 3.3 spg); Abi Bandstra, 5-9 sr. G (4.5 ppg, 2.8 spg).
Outlook: Ludington will be playing in its first Semifinal since 2004 and has won 17 of its last 18 games. The Orioles avenged an early defeat to league rival WMC and also got good early prep in losses to eventual Division 1 semifinalists Hartland and West Bloomfield, and Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. Only one opponent has put up more than 40 points during the 18-game run – Cadillac, which scored 47 in handing Ludington the lone loss over that stretch. Junior forward Olivia Lynn adds 7.5 points off the bench.
PHOTO Detroit Country Day’s Jaidyn Elam brings the ball upcourt during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Livonia Clarenceville. (Photo by Douglas Bargerstock.)
Another girls basketball season is underway, and the best from 2022-23 are wasting no time seeing how they match up this winter.
Every Monday through the MHSAA Finals in March we’ll look back at the previous week’s results that were most attention-grabbing across the state, highlight a few programs in every division on the rise and glance at some of the games coming up that pop off the page most. One week in, and we’ve already had our share of headline-grabbers with more immediately on the way – read on for details.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
2. Detroit Renaissance 53, Lansing Catholic 46 The Phoenix (2-0), a Division 1 semifinalist last season, earned the headliner for opening week by edging the reigning Division 2 champion Cougars (0-1).
2. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep 45, Maple City Glen Lake 38 The Irish (3-0) reached the Division 4 Quarterfinals last season, and highlighted the first week of this one with this win over the reigning champion Lakers (2-1).
3. Lake Linden-Hubbell 48, Baraga 45 The Lakes (2-0) went a combined 1-2 against Baraga (1-1) last season – with a District Final loss as the Vikings went on to finish Division 4 runners-up.
4. Howell 60, Farmington Hills Mercy 59 Gabby Piepho scored 34 points to lead Howell (2-0) past Mercy (0-1), a Division 1 Regional finalist last season.
5. Frankenmuth 53, Freeland 51 On a night when Frankenmuth honored late star Keri Frahm, a 2016 grad who died in a car crash in October, the Eagles (2-0) held on for what no doubt will be a key league win over the Falcons (1-1).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Bloomfield Hills Marian (2-0) A rough start last season turned into a 10-14 finish for Marian, but the Mustangs did win six of their last seven games and picked right back up with a 2-0 start last week. Marian opened with a 57-44 win over Imlay City, avenging a six-point loss from last winter, and then defeated Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest.
Milford (2-0) The Mavericks are off to a quick start under new coach Tim Olszewski, who came to Milford after a successful run at Howell. They edged Fowlerville 27-23 and then defeated Waterford Mott, after ending last season with a District Semifinal loss to Olszewski’s Highlanders.
Detroit Country Day (2-0) Past star Amber Deane’s first season as coach ended impressively with a 17-7 record and triple-overtime loss to Goodrich in a Regional Final, and she has Country Day off to a fast start. The Yellowjackets doubled up Birmingham Groves to open and defeated Tecumseh 66-52 at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep’s Ice Breaker Classic; Tecumseh finished 20-5 last season.
Shepherd (2-0) After building from seven wins two seasons ago to a 10-13 finish last winter, Shepherd may be on the verge of another advance. The BlueJays opened by edging Beal City 42-40 – Beal City won 14 games last season – and then defeated Gladwin 55-50 in double overtime.
Evart (2-0) The Wildcats’ matchups with Lake City last season had Highland Conference and statewide implications – Evart won the first, but Lake City won the next two to claim league and District titles. Evart has the early upper hand again, following up last week’s 20-point win over Reed City with a 42-41 victory over the Trojans.
Perry (2-0) The Ramblers have improved from zero to four to six wins over the last three seasons, respectively, and are well on their way to increasing that total again. Perry opened with a 38-37 win over Morrice (after losing to the Orioles last season) and 44-27 victory over Byron, and have another fresh start moving to the Central Michigan Athletic Conference this winter.
Colon (2-0) The Magi finished 21-5 last season, reaching the Division 4 Regional Finals before falling to Hackett (highlighted above). Colon began this one with a 52-33 win over Adrian Lenawee Christian, which made the Semifinals last winter, before defeating Battle Creek St. Philip big to finish the week.
Lutheran Westland (2-0) The Warriors are another team quickly pursuing an improvement over last season, when they finished 10-14. They opened with a 44-24 win over Ann Arbor Greenhills, then defeated Whitmore Lake 28-19 – Whitmore Lake downed Westland twice last season on the way to winning the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Red title.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Wednesday – Kingston (2-0) at Goodrich (2-0) – These two finished a combined 49-6 last winter, with Kingston reaching the Division 4 Quarterfinals and Goodrich playing in the Division 2 Semifinals.
Thursday – Salem (2-0) at West Bloomfield (0-0) – This is a rematch from last season’s Division 1 Semifinals, won by West Bloomfield, and headlines the Kensington Lakes Activities Association/Oakland Activities Association Challenge.
Friday – Rockford (2-0) at Muskegon (1-1) – The reigning Division 1 champion Rams travel to take on the Big Reds, who are looking to avenge last season’s 19-point loss after which they went 15-5 to finish the winter.
Saturday – Detroit Edison (0-0) vs. Detroit Country Day (2-0) at Belleville – This is arguably the most intriguing matchup from the Best of Michigan Holiday Classic and matches teams with high aspirations in Division 2.
Saturday – Midland Dow (1-1) vs. Salem (2-0) at Belleville – This Best of Michigan game matches a Dow program that’s regularly among Division 1 contenders with a Salem team that joined the elite last season.
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PHOTOS (Top) Flint Powers Catholic and Davison face off in a season opener, won by the Chargers 73-41. (Middle) An Otsego player puts up a shot during her team's 44-35 loss to Portage Central. (Top photo by Terry Lyons; middle photo by Gary Shook.)