East Lansing Rallies to Play 1 More Day

March 16, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – East Lansing found itself playing in the Semifinals again Friday for the first time since 2010.

But the Trojans also found themselves in an unfamiliar situation with potentially only 16 minutes left in their season.

East Lansing entered halftime trailing Wayne Memorial by three points – the first time it hadn’t led at the end of the first half this season.

“That really gave us a shocker and gave us a reality check that we needed to come out and play hard,” Trojans senior Aazhenii Nye said. “This wasn’t how our season was going to end. We worked so hard to get here. And that’s what we did – we just picked each other up and knocked down some big shots.”

And advanced, thanks to a big third-quarter push, with a 60-52 win over the Zebras.

East Lansing (26-0) will play Saginaw Heritage at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Van Noord Arena hoping to lock down its first Class A title since that 2010 run.

That team featured a Miss Basketball Award winner in Klarissa Bell, who went on to play at Michigan State. The Trojans entered this weekend fresh off the celebration for senior guard Jaida Hampton, this year’s winner.

But they also faced the challenge of taking on another finalist in Wayne senior guard Camree’ Clegg, who over the last three seasons had led a team that didn’t win a game before her arrival as a sophomore to its first Regional title and Semifinals this winter.

Clegg had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists Friday, while Hampton had seven points and nine rebounds. But the matchup was never as much about them individually as it was about East Lansing’s scrappy defense against a Zebras offense that had put up 73 on Detroit Country Day at the start of the season and 81 against a Plymouth team that finished second to Wayne in their league.

During the deciding third quarter, East Lansing made 9 of is 13 shots from the floor – including its first three – and held the Zebras to 3 of 13. The Trojans went on a 23-11 run and got up by as many as 12 before Clegg hit three free throws to close the period. 

“I thought those kids played as hard as just about any team we’ve played against,” Wayne coach Jarvis Mitchell said. “Every film that we’ve watched; we’ve seen them live, we’ve seen them on tape. They’re always competing.”

“Going into the third quarter, sometimes we let off a little bit,” Hampton said. “But the last few games we’ve come out really strong because the beginning of the third quarter is the most important. That’s where you see how you’re going to play the rest of the game. … I’m really happy we did make our first few shots, because that gave us a boost of energy to push through and let it keep going through the third and fourth quarter.”

East Lansing pushed the lead to 14 a minute into the fourth quarter before Wayne fought back to get it to the final margin.

Junior guard Sammiyah Hoskin added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Zebras (22-5), who graduate only Clegg off this history-making team.

“Wayne, four years ago 0-20, and now we have the whole community coming out to see us,” Clegg said. “Especially driving two and a half hours (to Calvin), it’s a great feeling. We just wanted to keep it going.”

Senior Amelia McNutt led East Lansing with 20 points and four steals, while Nye added 11 points and six rebounds and junior sister Aaliyah Nye had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

East Lansing had peaked in the Quarterfinals three times since its 2010 title, most recently in 2016 when these seniors were sophomores.

“We’ve been together for four years and it started off pretty rough in terms of how we worked together, with our chemistry,” East Lansing coach Rob Smith said as he sat for the press conference with Hampton, McNutt and Aazhenii Nye. “And in the last four years, these ladies have grown up big-time. They’re three of the most amazing seniors I’ve ever coached. … Right from the get go, we’ve been speaking about this moment all season long.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) East Lansing’s Sanaya Gregory pushes the ball upcourt as Wayne’s Jeanae Terry defends. (Middle) Wayne’s Camree’ Clegg works to get space against the Trojans.

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.)