Divine Child Family Grows with New Season

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

December 11, 2015

DEARBORN – Last April, Dearborn Divine Child assistant girls basketball coach Julie Kaniewski received some news for which she was not prepared.

Kaniewski and head coach Mary Laney have been close friends most of their lives. They played basketball together at Divine Child, graduated the same year and played on two Class B championship teams (in 1993 and ’94). Kaniewski and Laney were putting a close on the season when Laney made a stunning announcement.

“We were working with the returning players,” Kaniewski said. “We were going over some stuff for the summer, and as we were ending things Mary said, ‘By the way, I’m pregnant.’ Being a math teacher, I put it all together. That put her due date near the start of the season. She said she’d be there for tryouts. I said, can you guarantee that?”

On Nov. 24, Laney gave birth to an 8-pound, 8-ounce boy, Owen Michael Laney. He’s the third child for Mary and her husband Chris Laney.

But Owen Michael was the first to be born during the basketball season. Their first child, Ellen, was born on Oct. 26, 2010, and their second, and first boy, Niall, was born Sept. 18, 2012.

The birth of Owen Michael added a little excitement for the Laneys on Thanksgiving, and a bit of consternation for Kaniewski.

“Some things are just out of my control,” Mary Laney said. “It made for a nice Thanksgiving. It was the best Thanksgiving ever. Things will be better when (Owen Michael) gets his days straightened out from his nights.”

Things are already better for Kaniewski. Her best friend is back on the bench and coaching. In fact – and to the relief of Kaniewski – Laney was back coaching Dec. 2, two days before the Falcons’ opener at Chelsea.

No question, it was stressful for both coaches. What helped alleviate some of the pressure is their friendship. There’s nothing Kaniewski wouldn’t do for Laney, and vice versa.

And laughter helped.

“I was a little nervous,” Kaniewski said. “I can joke with her. I told her you’ll be on epidural and I’ll be coaching.”

Their bond extends to their immediate families as well. Kaniewski has two children approximately the same age as Laney’s first two. Kaniewski’s oldest is Elizabeth, who will be 5 years old in May. Thomas will turn 3 in April. Elizabeth and Ellen Laney attend dance class together, and in late October the coaches came to pick up their children when Laney sounded an alarm.

“She said she was having contractions,” Kaniewski said. “I said, no, no, no. That can’t happen.”

It was a false alarm.

Laney did miss nine days with her team, including scrimmages. The preparation would have been a challenge even without the pregnancy. Divine Child was 20-6 last season but all five starters graduated. Add that two players suffered injuries, one a torn knee ligament, the other a concussion.  

Formulating tryouts and making cuts tested Kaniewski’s resolve. Both Laney and Kaniewski had ideas on who their starters would be for some time, but things change. Players get better. Some don’t progress as quickly as others.

“That’s been the hard part,” Kaniewski said. “Then there was the parent meetings. I told Mary, no, no. I don’t want to do that alone.”

Laney, for the sake of both, moved the parent meeting up so they could tackle that together.

Then they received some outside help. Mary Lou Jansen, who coached those fine Divine Child teams during the early 1990s, offered her assistance. Kaniewski was grateful.

“She spent a few days with me,” Kaniewski said. “The kids were responsive. It’s just a different set of eyes.”

The lack of experience has forced the two to concentrate on the basics and not over-complicate things. Divine Child had opened 0-3 heading into Saturday night’s game against Saginaw Nouvel.

“Not many teams come back with no starters,” Laney said. “This group has been receptive. We’ve had five of six Division I players over the past several years. We don’t have that. We’re not worried about wins and losses. We want them to play hard and communicate.”

Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Chris and Mary Laney hold their newborn, Owen. (Middle) The Laney children, Ellen, Niall and Owen, smile while wearing their Divine Child hats. (Photos courtesy of the Laney family.)

Jahfetson Makes History from 3-Point Range in Taking Baraga to 2023 Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 23, 2024

Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson graduated in 2023 as one of the most accomplished 3-point shooters in MHSAA history and coming off one of the most impressive single seasons from beyond the arc.

Her 103 3-pointers as a senior over 29 games were the second-most for one season and included eight in a Quarterfinal win over Mackinaw City – the second-most in an MHSAA Quarterfinal, Semifinal or Final.

She finished with 236 3-pointers over 96 games and four seasons, ranking 12th on that career list, and Baraga finished the season as Division 4 runner-up. She’s continuing her career at Northern Michigan.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click the heading to view the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Alma junior Bailey Walkington earned her school’s first single-season individual record book entry for girls basketball in 2022-23. She made the steals list with 143 over 23 games.

Dalton DeBoer became the latest Midland Dow long-range shooting ace to make the records after she drained 70 of 206 3-point attempts over 24 games in 2022-23. DeBoer is a junior this school year.

Durand senior Jordyn Lawrence earned her school’s first girls basketball individual record book entry with 15 steals in her team’s 44-31 win over Flint Kearsley on Dec. 2, 2022. She’s continuing at Mid-Michigan College.

Leah French finished her Engadine career in 2023 with a series of game, season and career record book entries detailing her scoring and defensive skills. She earned single-game listings for 54 points and 19 free throws against St. Ignace on Feb. 6, 2023, and nine 3-pointers against Manistique that Jan. 9. She made the single-season list with 81 3-pointers, 177 free throws and 168 steals over 25 games as a senior. And she made the career lists with 171 3-pointers, 354 free throws and 405 steals over 85 games and four seasons. She’s continuing her career at Aquinas College.

Arieonna Ware earned Battle Creek Central's first girls basketball record book entry with 51 points in a Feb. 11, 2020, win over Portage Northern. She actually finished with a triple-double, adding 12 rebounds and 12 steals. Ware also was added for 47 points in a March 6, 2019, District game against Sturgis.

Mesick senior Kayla McCoy made the MHSAA record in 2022-23 as a junior, totaling 144 steals over 23 games. It was Mesick’s first individual entry in the girls basketball record book.

Coldwater’s Carlee Crabtree made a career-high 52 3-pointers during her senior season of 2019-20 on the way to making the MHSAA career list for long-distance shots with 163, in 469 attempts, over four seasons and 88 games total. She went on to play at Central Michigan and Hope College.

Battle Creek Pennfield’s Kaylee Glidden capped her three-year varsity career in 2023 among the most accurate free-throw shooters in MHSAA history – and also among top 3-point aces. She made 90.6 percent of her free-throw attempts as a senior, good for fifth-highest percentage all-time for one season, and her 84.4-percent success rate ranks fourth on the career list. She also made the single-season 3-pointers list with 67 that winter and the career list with 168. She continued at Kellogg Community College and has committed to Great Lakes Christian College.

Larissa Huffman made a pair of career lists upon completing her four-year varsity career in 2023 at Mackinaw City. She was added for 468 assists and 411 steals, both over 92 games, and she’s continuing her career at St. Norbert (Wis.). Additionally, Mackinaw City was added to the single-game field goals list as a team for making at least 39 in a game six times over the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, with a high of 45.

Lansing Christian earned a listing on the team 3-pointers list when it sank 14 on 32 attempts against Webberville on Jan. 20, 2023. Seven players drained at least one of the long-distance shots.  

Grayling’s 66-49 win over Houghton Lake on Dec. 19 included one of the most impressive defensive performances of all-time as senior Makayla Watkins had 19 steals – tying for third-most in one game.

Brooklyn Columbia Central’s Zoandria Bamm grabbed 28 rebounds during a Feb. 14, 2023, game against Clinton to make the single-game list in that category and on the way to finishing her senior season with 380 rebounds over 25 games – tying for 13th most on that list. She’s playing at Jackson College.

Riley Abney became the first player to be listed for points scored in a quarter of a girls basketball game when she sank 21 of her 36 total during the fourth quarter of a 64-47 loss to Linden on Jan. 16. The Ortonville Brandon senior has committed to be a preferred walk-on at Oakland.

A pair of Paw Paw standouts earned single-game accomplishments within three days of each other in January. On Jan. 26 against Sturgis, junior AJ Rickli grabbed 31 rebounds, tied for seventh-most for one game. On Jan. 29 against Three Rivers, sophomore Stella Shaefer made the single-game assists list with 14.

Keira Maki joined the single-game points list on Feb. 22 when she scored 47 in Escanaba’s 64-49 win over Sault Ste. Marie. The senior will continue at Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

PHOTO Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson (22) brings the ball upcourt during the 2023 Division 4 Final against Glen Lake at Breslin Center.