D3 Preview: Contenders Earn Another Championship Chance

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 16, 2022

Three contenders who surely felt just a few steps away from claiming last season’s Division 3 championship are making the trip to Breslin Center this weekend to decide this year’s title, joined by a fourth set to make history when Thursday’s second Semifinal tips off.

Kent City was last season’s runner-up, losing 52-50 to Grass Lake in last year’s Final. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, the overall top seed in Division 3 this winter, had lost to Grass Lake two games earlier in a Regional Final. And Maple City Glen Lake is back following its second-straight undefeated regular season and after suffering its lone defeat last year in the Quarterfinals.

They’re joined by Madison Heights Bishop Foley, which will play in its first Semifinal after also seeing last year’s run end a game shy of East Lansing.

DIVISON 3 Semifinals – Thursday
Maple City Glen Lake (25-0) vs. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (23-2), noon
Kent City (25-0) vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley (20-3), 2 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday – 4 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 3 semifinals (with rankings by MPR and statistics through Regional Finals):

Record/rank: 25-0, No. 5
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Silver
Coach: Aleah Holcomb, first season (25-0)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2021.
Best wins: 34-33 over No. 6 Schoolcraft in Quarterfinal, 42-39 over No. 11 Hart, 43-23 over Division 2 No. 13 Sparta, 33-27 over Grand Rapids Christian.
Players to watch: Lexie Bowers, 5-7 jr. G (17 ppg, 71 3-pointers, 3.8 apg, 3.3 spg); Madelyn Geers, 5-9 soph. G (14.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg); Taryn Preston (7.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Outlook: The Eagles will return this weekend with four of the six players who saw minutes in that championship game, with 5-11 senior forward Emmalyn Geers (4.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) joining Preston and Madelyn Geers as returning starters. Holcomb is a former Kent City standout as well and served five seasons as junior varsity coach before taking over the program this season. Preston and Emmalyn Geers are the only seniors.

Record/rank: 20-3, No. 7
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #1
Coach: Ray Joseph, third season (50-15)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-48 over No. 14 Reese in Quarterfinal, 51-46 over Division 2 No. 18 Wixom St. Catherine, 60-23 over Clawson, 52-50 over Detroit Country Day.
Players to watch: Melanie Moore, 6-0 sr. C (17.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg); Alyssa Samartino, 5-7 jr. G (6.0 ppg, 3.0 apg); Ryan Moorer, 5-7 soph. G/F (10.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg).
Outlook: Bishop Foley has added its first Semifinal trip to its first Regional title won last week. The Ventures have won 16 games by double digits., with all three losses to teams with at least 15 wins including Division 3 overall top seed Arbor Prep by only five (66-61) in the regular-season finale. Moore and Samartino earned all-state honorable mentions last season, and Moore is the only senior starter and one of only two on the team.

Record/rank: 25-0, No. 8
League finish: First in Northwest Conference
Coach: Jason Bradford, 14th season (254-69)
Championship history: Class D champion 1978, runner-up 1979.
Best wins: 50-29 over Lake City in Quarterfinal, 53-39 over No. 3 Calumet in Regional Final, 53-34 over No. 2 St. Ignace in Regional Semifinal, 57-47 (District Final) and 59-40 over Traverse City St. Francis, 48-41 over No. 10 Elk Rapids, 63-41 and 60-23 over Kingsley.
Players to watch: Grace Bradford, 5-11 sr. G (22.9 ppg, 40 3-pointers, 10.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 4.1 spg); Jessica Robbins, 5-8 sr. F (9.3 ppg, 4.3 spg, 1.4 bpg); Ruby Hogan, 5-7 jr. G (11.3 ppg, 3.2 spg).
Outlook: Glen Lake’s only loss over the last two seasons was last year’s to Calumet in a Quarterfinal, and the Lakers avenged it last week. This will be their third trip to the Semifinals over the last six seasons and first since 2018. The seven-point win over Elk Rapids on Dec. 7 was the only one by single digits this season. Grace Bradford made the all-state first team last season, and junior 6-foot center Maddie Bradford is another top contributor at 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Record/rank: 23-2, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Scott Stine, fifth season (96-24)
Championship history: Class C champion 2016, two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 66-61 over No. 7 Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 65-38 over No. 4 Grass Lake, 66-38 over No. 16 Jonesville, 67-41 over Division 1 No. 16 Wayne Memorial, 63-48 over Division 1 No. 19 South Lyon East, 54-51 over Division 2 No. 2 Redford Westfield Prep, 65-39 over Division 2 No. 7 Lansing Catholic, 75-45 over Division 2 No. 5 Frankenmuth, 89-57 over Division 2 No. 12 Imlay City, 57-47 over Division 2 No. 16 Lake Fenton.
Players to watch: Mya Petticord, 5-9 sr. G (22.9 ppg, 43 3-pointers, 5.0 apg, 4.3 spg); Karianna Woods, 5-8 sr. G (12.1 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.6 spg); Stacy Utomi, 5-11 soph. F (11.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Outlook: Arbor Prep will play its first Semifinal since 2019, when a freshman Petticord was the high scorer and Woods played 12 minutes in an overtime loss to eventual champion Pewamo-Westphalia. Three seasons later, Petticord was a Miss Basketball Award finalist and will continue her career at Texas A&M, and Woods will continue at Bethune-Cookman. The Gators have played one of the state’s strongest schedules in any division with their only losses to Division 1 No. 11 Parma Western and Division 2 No. 1 Detroit Edison. Sophomore Stephanie Utomi adds another 9.5 points and nearly a block per game.

PHOTO Kent City’s Lexie Bowers (23) and her teammates defend during Tuesday’s Quarterfinal win over Schoolcraft. (Photo courtesy of the Kent City athletic department.)


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.)