Davis Sinks Memory-Maker This Time as West Bloomfield Downs Rockford in OT

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

March 22, 2024

EAST LANSING – West Bloomfield wanted badly to avenge last year’s loss to Rockford in the Division 1 Final.

The Lakers did so in dramatic fashion Friday.

Indya Davis banked in a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer to force overtime, and West Bloomfield converted timely free throws during the extra session for a thrilling 55-47 win over the Rams in the second Division 1 Semifinal at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.

“It took us 365 days and an extra quarter to get that back,” Lakers coach Darren McAllister said. “Since last year we felt like we left something in East Lansing and it was about Rockford because they beat us, but the big thing is it's not about Rockford. It’s about getting what we left in East Lansing and Rockford, which is a great coached team, was the next step.”

West Bloomfield (26-1) trailed the entire second half before Davis’ heroics.

“Before I took the shot, I told Summer (Davis, her twin sister) that I wanted the shot,” Davis said. “Give me the ball. As soon as that ball came off my hand, I knew it was good.

“That’s the type of shot you see in movies. You don’t think it's really going to go in, but we believed in it and practiced it. When it went in, it was our day.”

Indya Davis (24) pulls up for a shot with Rockford’s Kate Higgins defender. Summer Davis led the Lakers with 22 points and made 13 of 16 from the free throw line. She made 10 of 11 in overtime, accounting for all of West Bloomfield’s points during those additional minutes.

Indya Davis finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, the game-tying 3-pointer one of two she made from beyond the arc.

“I believe in her, so I wasn't about to question giving her the ball and it went in,” Summer Davis said. “It was a big surprise, but it wasn't because we came to win.”

McAllister wasn’t surprised to see that shot go in.

“That's Indya all day long, and we practice that,” he said. “I wasn't shocked by it because I knew at the end of the day they weren't ready to go home and schedule a banquet. They wanted to keep playing."

West Bloomfield will face Grand Blanc in Saturday’s Division 1 Final at 12:15 p.m.

The shot stunned the Rams (26-2), who appeared to be on their way to an opportunity to finish a repeat title run.

“I thought we were in a great position up three there in the closing moments,” Rockford coach Brad Wilson said. “We defended it pretty well, but hats off to them. They made a heck of a shot.

“It was tough when we saw that one go through. However, I think we really preached that (positive mentality) all season and we were ready to take on overtime and try and get the win.”

It was the third straight meeting at the Breslin between the two teams. West Bloomfield defeated Rockford in a Division 1 Semifinal in 2022 before the Rams’ victory last year – when Rockford took the final lead on a 3-pointer with 40 seconds to play.

“Losing to Rockford by four last year was unacceptable,” said Indya Davis, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. “We came back with a new fire this year, and we wanted to win. The rivalry between us and them is huge, and today we got the outcome.”

West Bloomfield led 15-10 in the first quarter, but the Rams responded and outscored the Lakers 19-5 in the second to take a 29-20 lead into halftime. A 7-0 run sparked the comeback, punctuated by Kate Higgins’ 3-pointer.

Despite the halftime deficit, the Lakers cranked up the defensive pressure and clawed back, getting to within six (39-33) after three quarters.

The Rams shot only 35 percent (15-43) from the field, including 4 of 19 from behind the 3-point arc. They were led by Anna’s Wypych’s 20 points. Jordan Mateer added 12 points, while Higgins, a sophomore, recorded 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield’s Destiny Washington (1) brings the ball up the court during Friday’s Division 1 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Middle) Indya Davis (24) pulls up for a shot with Rockford’s Kate Higgins defender. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)