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.)