Eagles' Ace Has Scoring Record in Sight

February 8, 2018

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

ERIE – The Liedel family barn in Erie has been home to some great basketball battles the past few years.

It’s also the home court for soon-to-be all-time Monroe County Region scoring champ Mary Liedel.

A senior, Liedel is in her fourth season playing for Erie Mason. She will enter Friday’s scheduled game against Onsted with 1,657 career points – just eight points shy of the all-time Monroe County Region record of 1,665 points set by Petersburg-Summerfield’s Melissa Taylor during the 1990s.

It’s ironic the 5-foot-10 senior guard could set the record against Onsted. It’s against the Wildcats that she scored 51 points in a game last year to break the Monroe County single game mark.

“I just love the game,” Liedel said. “There is just something about it. God gave me the talent to go out and play basketball, and I want to return the favor for Him. I just play my heart out for Him.”

Those games in her barn, against some of her nine siblings, helped turn Liedel into a superstar scorer.

“In our barn, we always play one-on-one,” Mary said. “My brother, Joey, and I play a lot of one-on-one. He’s really helped my game.”

Joey is a sophomore and the leading scorer on the Eagles boys basketball team. Mary has led the Eagles in scoring since her freshman year. After averaging 8.8 points a game that season, her scoring average ballooned to 24.2 points a game as a sophomore. Still, she saw room for improvement.

“My shooting percentage wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” she said. “I worked hard on that all summer. My game has grown tremendously. Even last year I didn’t shoot very well on 3-pointers. I worked hard all summer shooting to get that percentage up.”

Her junior year, she scored 585 points and was named Player of the Year by The Monroe News and second team all-state by The Associated Press. She was held below double figures just once all season. Besides the 51-point outburst, she had games of 44, 33, 32 and 30 – all while shooting 40.1 percent from the floor and 66.1 percent from the free throw line. She got to the free throw line 242 times. Three times she attempted at least 20 free throws in a game.

Blissfield head coach Ryan Gilbert called her the “ultimate competitor.”

“She’s a very humble person,” Gilbert said. “Her ability to finish around the rim and through contact is the best I have seen since I have been here.”

Another area of her game that she wanted to improve was rebounding. That mission was accomplished as she had 14 double-doubles as a junior, including a career-high 22 rebounds in one game.

Onsted head coach Brandon Arnold said that 51-point game was remarkable. Liedel was 23-for-29 from the free throw line and made 13 field goals.

“On that night she was un-guardable,” he said. “She was hitting from the 3-point line as well as her shots in the paint. She put her team on her back. She finished well, used her body to create contact, and made a lot of free throws.”

This season started out with an impressive 46-point performance against Ypsilanti Lincoln when she made all seven of her 3-point attempts. While averaging 22.5 points a game, she has increased her rebounding to 11.5 a game and also leads the team in steals, blocked shots and assists.

“I think I’m stronger and I jump higher, and I’m playing down low a lot more,” she said of her rebounding.

Tuesday, against Hillsdale, Liedel had what might be her best all-around game. She recorded her first ever triple-double with 30 points, 13 steals and 10 rebounds.

“I think it was for sure one of my best games,” she said. “I had a good defensive game with a lot of steals.”

Erie Mason head coach Josh Sweigert called it one of her most complete games.

“That game just shows what a complete player she is,” he said. “Not only did she score 30 points, but she also accumulated 13 steals by being in the right place and using her great understanding of the game to make those plays.”

Liedel is the fourth player in Monroe County Region history to pass 1,600 career points. Taylor scored two more points than Whiteford’s Karen Hubbard totaled during the 1970s, and Kiara Kudron also scored more than 1,600 points for New Boston Huron. With at least five games remaining, Liedel is likely to set a new standard that will be hard for any athlete to catch.

The Eagles have steadily improved as a team during Liedel’s time on the court, from three wins her sophomore year to a 12-4 record this season. Erie Mason won’t win the Lenawee County Athletic Association crown – Ida has already wrapped it up – but is focused on winning a District.

“That would definitely be cool,” she said. “We have a good team and a good chance. We’re really focused on that. It’s been really fun this season.”

Liedel has been in contact with some small colleges in Michigan as she considers continuing her playing career.

“I for sure want to play at the next level,” she said. “I’m just undecided where right now.”

Sweigert has had a front row seat to watch Liedel as the Eagles head coach. He continues to be impressed by her talent and work ethic.

“Mary is one of the hardest working players I have ever seen,” he said. “She is the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. She pushes herself and her teammates during practices to be the best that they can be. It would be very easy to be satisfied with where she is due to the success that she has had, but that is just not how she is. She wants to be the best player that she can be.”

As for becoming the career scoring leader in Monroe County, Liedel says that isn’t something she’s concentrating on.

“I could care less about the stats, or points or breaking records,” she said. “I just go out and try and do everything I can for us to win as a team. I’d do anything for the team.” 

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Erie Mason’s Mary Liedel is drawing closer to setting her area’s career scoring record. (Middle) Liedel works to get past a defender. (Photos by Angie Ayers.)

High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

July 11, 2024

Jareica Hughes had a Hall of Fame collegiate basketball career playing at University of Texas-El Paso and has played professionally overseas, but her most prized possession is something she earned playing high school basketball in Michigan. 

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosA standout at now-closed Southfield-Lathrup High School during the early-to-mid 2000s, Hughes proudly displays a signature symbol of Lathrup’s Class A championship team in 2005. 

“I have my state championship ring on me right now,” said Hughes, now an assistant head coach for the women’s basketball program at UTEP. “I wear this ring every single day. Not so much for the basketball aspect. Inside of the ring it says ‘Hoop Squad.’ It’s more the connection I’ve had with those particular young ladies. Friends that I’ve known since I was kid. Every once in a while when we talk, we go back in time.”

Believe it or not, Hughes and her high school teammates next year will have to go back 20 years to commemorate a run to the title that started when they were freshmen. 

It was a gradual build-up to what was the first girls basketball state championship won by a public school in Oakland County. Lathrup, which has since merged with the former Southfield High School to form Southfield Arts & Technology, remained the only public school in Oakland County to win a state girls basketball title until West Bloomfield did so in 2022 and again this past March. 

Lathrup lost in the District round to Bloomfield Hills Marian during Hughes’ freshman year, and then after defeating Marian in a District Final a year later, lost to West Bloomfield in a Regional Final.

When Hughes was a junior, the team got to the state’s final four, but a bad third quarter resulted in a heartbreaking one-point Semifinal loss to eventual champion Lansing Waverly. 

A year later, when Hughes and other core players such as Brittane Russell, Timika Williams, Dhanmite’ Slappey and Briana Whitehead were seniors, they finished the job and won the Class A crown with a 48-36 win over Detroit Martin Luther King in the Final.

However, the signature moment of that title run actually came during the Semifinal round and was produced by Hughes, a playmaking wizard at point guard who made the team go. 

Trailing by three points during the waning seconds of regulation against Grandville and Miss Basketball winner Allyssa DeHaan – a dominant 6-foot-8 center – Hughes drained a tying 3-pointer from the wing that was well beyond the 3-point line. 

Lathrup went on to defeat Grandville in overtime and prevail against King.

Hughes said the year prior, she passed up on taking a potential winning or tying shot in the Semifinal loss against Waverly, and was reminded of that constantly by coaches and teammates. “I just remember in the huddle before that shot, that just kept ringing in my mind,” she said. “That was special. I cried for weeks not being able to get a shot off (the year before) and leaving the tournament like that.”

Growing up in Detroit, Hughes got into basketball mainly because she had five older brothers and an older sister who played the game. In particular, Hughes highlights older brother Gabriel for getting her into the game and taking her from playground to playground.

“I’m from Detroit,” she said. “We played ball all day long. Sunup to sundown. When the light comes on, you had to run your butt into the house.”

Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center.Hughes played for the Police Athletic League and also at the famed St. Cecilia gym in the summer, developing her game primarily against boys.

“My first team was on a boys team,” she said. “I was a captain on a boys team.” 

The family moved into Lathrup’s district before she began high school. 

Once she helped lead Lathrup to the 2005 championship, she went on to a fine career at UTEP, where she was the Conference USA Player of the Year twice and helped lead the Miners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Hughes still holds school records for career assists (599), steals (277) and minutes played (3,777). On Monday, she was named to Conference USA’s 2024 Hall of Fame class. 

After a brief professional career overseas was derailed by a shoulder injury, Hughes said getting into coaching was a natural fit. 

“I had to make the hard decision, and I knew as a kid I wanted to be around basketball,” she said. “Once I made that decision (to quit), I knew I was going to coach.”

Hughes started coaching in the Detroit area, first serving as an assistant at Southfield A&T from 2016-20 and then at Birmingham Groves for a season. She then served as interim head coach at Colby Community College in Kansas before being named an assistant at UTEP in May 2023, a month after her former coach Keitha Adams returned to lead the program after six seasons at Wichita State.  

While fully immersed in her job with UTEP, Hughes’ high school memories in Michigan certainly aren’t going away anytime soon – especially with the 20th anniversary of Lathrup’s championship coming up. 

“We are still close friends because we all essentially grew up together,” she said. “They are still my friends to this day.”

2024 Made In Michigan

July 10: Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) At left, Southfield-Lathrup’s Jareica Hughes drives to the basket against Detroit Martin Luther King during the 2005 Class A Final; at right, Hughes coaches this past season at UTEP. (Middle) Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center. (UTEP photo courtesy of the UTEP sports information department.)