D3 Preview: Welcome Back, Contenders
March 20, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three of this weekend’s Division 3 semifinalists have become regulars checking in for the final rounds of the season.
The fourth semifinalist hasn’t made it this far in more than 40 years – not since it became one of the MHSAA’s first girls basketball champions, pre-dating the other three teams’ successes.
We’ve become quite familiar with Flint Hamady, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and Pewamo-Westphalia especially this last decade. Lake City, meanwhile, hasn’t played this late in the season since 1976 – when it won Class D in the fourth season of MHSAA-sponsored girls hoops.
Division 3 Semifinals – Thursday
Lake City (22-2) vs. Flint Hamady (20-5), Noon
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (19-6) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (25-1), 2 p.m.
Division 3 Final – Saturday, 4 p.m.
Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Divisions 3 and 2). 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.)
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 10
League finish: Second in Genesee Area Conference Red
Coach: Keith Smith, 16th season (345-50)
Championship history: Three Class C titles (most recent 2010), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 40-35 over No. 2 Hemlock in the Regional Final, 45-36 over New Lothrop in Regional Semifinal, 50-42 over Division 2 honorable mention Corunna, 44-39 over Detroit Cass Tech.
Players to watch: Treshondra Williams, 6-1 sr. F (11.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.2 spg); Aryana Naylor, 6-2 jr. C (12.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg).
Outlook: After a season away, Hamady is back at the Semifinals for the fourth time this decade and after playing a regular-season schedule filled with larger opponents. All five losses came to Division 1 or 2 teams, and Hamady avenged its defeat against Corunna. Williams and Naylor give the Hawks an impressive frontcourt, while 5-9 junior Xeryia Tartt (15.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.8 spg) leads in scoring and senior guard Jordan McKeller (5.6 apg) is the top distributor.
Record/rank: 22-2, unranked
League finish: Second in Highland Conference
Coach: Bill Tisron, fifth season (83-30)
Championship history: Class D champion 1976.
Best wins: 50-46 over Ishpeming Westwood in Quarterfinal, 49-35 over Oscoda in Regional Semifinal, 57-42 over Morley Stanwood.
Players to watch: Rylie Bisballe, 6-2 jr. F (16.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg); Makayla Ardis, 5-5 sr. G (12.6 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.7 spg).
Outlook: Lake City is back at the Semifinals for the first time since its championship season, having fallen only to league rival Manton (twice) this winter. The Trojans have won at least 12 games all five seasons under Tisron and two District titles, and the Regional title was also the program’s first since that last long run four decades ago. Ardis earned an all-state honorable mention last season, and she and Bisballe get additional scoring help in part from sophomore guard Olivia Bellows (10.2 ppg) – who with Ardis had combined for 50 3-pointers entering the week.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Steve Eklund, 10th season (205-36)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 2017, 1984 & 1983.
Best wins: 43-19 over No. 4 Niles Brandywine in Quarterfinal, 35-33 over No. 8 Kent City in Regional Semifinal, 69-41 over Detroit Country Day, 45-25 over Division 1 No. 4 Midland Dow, 56-26 over New Lothrop.
Players to watch: Hannah Spitzley, 6-0 jr. F (13.9 ppg, 38 3-pointers); Ellie Droste, 5-8 jr. G (13.9 ppg, 39 3-pointers).
Outlook: The Pirates were runners-up in Class C in 2017 and made the Semifinals in 2018, and arguably have been the favorite in Division 3 all year with only a loss to Division 2 power Detroit Edison. Spitzley and Droste both earned all-state honorable mentions a year ago – Droste hits an outstanding 61 percent of her shots from the floor, including 47 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Rachel Huhn is another perimeter ace – she had 38 3-pointers heading into the week while making 41 percent from beyond the arc.
YPSILANTI ARBOR PREP
Record/rank: 19-6, unranked
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Scott Stine, second season (40-12)
Championship history: Class C champion 2016, two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-31 over honorable mention Adrian Madison in Quarterfinal, 59-55 over No. 5 Maple City Glen Lake, 54-40 over Division 2 No. 10 Muskegon Oakridge, 48-46 over Division 2 No. 9 Harper Woods Chandler Park, 61-46 over Dearborn Heights Crestwood.
Players to watch: Mya Petticord, 5-8 fr. G (19.3 ppg, 47 3-pointers, 3.3 apg); Mahri Petree, 5-11 sr. F (13 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg).
Outlook: Arbor Prep has made the Semifinals five straight seasons and finished champion or runner-up the last three (in Class B in 2017). The Gators have won 10 of their last 11 games, the only defeat in overtime to Chandler Park. Petticord was highly touted entering high school and has made good on those expectations. Petree, who earned all-state honorable mention last season, also provides plenty of boost, and 6-foot senior forward Kashyra Jackson is averaging 8.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game coming off the bench.
PHOTO: Lake City’s Olivia Bellows make a move toward the basket during her team’s Tuesday Quarterfinal win over Ishpeming Westwood. (Photo courtesy of Cadillac News.)
Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
“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.
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.”
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.