'Downtown' Heats Up as Saints Advance

March 19, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – It just happens sometimes, Margo Brown said after she landed her name among the most accomplished long-range shooters in MHSAA Finals history.

And Thursday was just about the best time for another of the hot streaks that have earned the St. Ignace senior a reputation as one of the top bombers in the state. 

Brown drilled seven straight 3-pointers to drive the Saints on a 19-point swing and into their third straight MHSAA Final with a 59-50 comeback win over top-ranked Frankfort in the late Class D Semifinal at the Breslin Center.

"Downtown Margo Brown," as her coach called her after, made her first 3-pointer with St. Ignace trailing midway through the second quarter, and her seventh put the Saints up six points with 6:14 to play. Total, she made 7 of 9 from behind the arc to contribute to team percentages that generally defy logic. For the game, St. Ignace shot a respectable 49 percent from the field – but 64 percent from 3-point range. 

“It was just a huge momentum change. It got everyone pumped up, the crowd and team especially,” Brown said. “The first half only a couple of us stepped up, and the second half I knew I had to bring it. It was now or never, we’ve gotta get there Saturday. Let’s make some shots, make some plays.

“I just get pumped up. I have a lot of intensity.” 

And an incredible shooting touch. She’ll surely be St. Ignace’s most marked player when she and the No. 6 Saints (21-5) face No. 2 Pittsford (26-0) in the Class D Final at 10 a.m. Saturday.  

Brown made 11 3-pointers in a game earlier this season, which will tie for third-most in MHSAA girls basketball history when added to the record book this spring. She had made 51 coming into this week, and should push to make the MHSAA record book list for single-season 3-pointers as well, depending on how many she adds in the championship game. 

She played the biggest part in earning that opportunity – but one of a number of parts needed in the comeback effort.

Making a pair of 3-pointers as well, Frankfort (24-2) built an eight-point lead six minutes into the game. The Panthers pushed the advantage to 13 with 5:46 left in the first half. Junior Mackenna Kelly did most of the damage, scoring 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting to that point.

Enter Saints junior forward Shakir Smith, who took over defending Kelly and helped hold the Central Michigan University recruit to 2 of 13 shooting the rest of the game.

Junior guard Abbey Ostman and senior center Sarah Smith joined Brown on St. Ignace’s 2013 Class D championship team, and they had roles to play Thursday as well. Brown had 23 points and four assists, and Ostman added 20 points on 8 of 9 shooting from the floor. Smith had seven points plus game highs of eight rebounds and four blocked shots. 

“Basically, I said it’s going to have be an all-out team effort. You’re going to have to dive on the floor and show how bad you want it,” St. Ignace coach Dorene Ingalls said of her halftime time pep talk, given with the Saints trailing 28-20.

“We weren’t just going to get an 8-point basket. We had to go one play at a time. And when Margo can shoot from halfcourt, it helps.”

Frankfort cut its late deficit to five on senior Shayla Soto’s bucket with 54 seconds to play. But the Saints made 7 of 8 free throw shots down the stretch – including the final two by Brown.

“When Margo came out nuclear – that was beyond hot – that was something else,” Frankfort coach Tim Reznich said. “She’s been a great player for quite a while. And we had our best player chasing her." 

Kelly finished with 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Frankfort, which played in its first Semifinal since winning back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006. Sophomore guard Cecilia Schmitt added 15 points, five rebounds and three steals.

Frankfort is a combined 47-4 over the last two seasons. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) St. Ignace’s Margo Brown (24) drives to the basket Thursday against Frankfort. (Middle) The Panthers’ Mackenna Kelly works for space with the Saints’ Jade Edelman defending.

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.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“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.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.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.”

Click for the full box score.

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.