Edison Becomes Champion Again to Close 2021-22 Girls Hoops Season
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 19, 2022
EAST LANSING – Detroit Edison girls basketball is back on top.
After having their past two seasons ended without a postseason loss, the Pioneers took back their throne Saturday night with a 73-55 Division 2 Final win against Grand Rapids West Catholic at the Breslin Center.
“Winning a state championship, it means everything to me,” Edison senior Ruby Whitehorn said. “Not getting it the last couple years really has been our motivation to get it this year. All our previous teammates, that’s why it’s so important to me, because they didn’t get the chance to do it.”
The title was the fourth for the Edison program, which won three straight from 2017-19 – the first two coming in Class C and the third in Division 2.
The tournament was canceled midway through in 2020 because of COVID-19, and Edison was forced to pull out of the 2021 tournament, also because of COVID-19. Both of those seasons, Edison was at least among the title favorites.
When given the opportunity to finish it on the court again, the Pioneers took full advantage.
Whitehorn, this season’s Miss Basketball Award winner and a Clemson signee, led the way, scoring 28 points and grabbing nine rebounds. DePaul signee Madisen Wardell added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The only two seniors on the Edison roster came up biggest at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, when the Pioneers turned a tight game into a comfortable victory.
“I would say it was our defense and talking on defense that always brings us back in the game,” Wardell said. “We weren’t down by much, but I know if we talk on defense, it’ll bring us back.”
The defense was led by Dakota Alston, who switched onto West Catholic star Abbey Kimball in the second half. Kimball, a Michigan State signee, scored 26 points in the game, but just seven during the second half, thanks in large part to the move to switch the bigger Alston onto her.
“I just made sure I didn’t let her have the ball,” said Alston, who added 10 points. “Coach (Monique) Brown said the best way to stop a good scorer is to make sure she doesn’t get the ball.”
Kimball noticed the change, and gave credit to Edison (19-3) for making things more difficult for her over the final 16 minutes.
“The first half, obviously I hit shots, got open and my teammates found me,” Kimball said. “In the second half they started to do more face guarding throughout the whole court. That was different. Kudos to them, they had really great defense and it’s tough to score on them regardless.”
The game was back and forth into the third quarter, and West Catholic (25-2) had a 36-35 lead about midway through it.
But with Whitehorn picking up her third foul and getting a quick breather, the Pioneers not only held on, but grabbed a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, thanks to some free throws and a putback by Wardell.
“That was a competitive game,” West Catholic coach Jill VanderEnde said. “I thought we did a really nice job with our gameplan, really attacking Detroit Edison, and showing them that we wanted to come and we wanted to show them our best game. I thought we started out the game very physical and aggressive. Throughout the game we had that effort and tried to stay positive, which was really (a proud moment) for me.”
When Whitehorn came back, she took over, with several tough drives to the basket, eventually putting her team up 11 points in the fourth.
“We tried to contain her in a couple different ways with a couple different strategic defenses,” VanderEnde said. “And she’s just so athletic, she just maneuvered all around what we were trying to do strategically.”
Whitehorn is the fourth straight Miss Basketball to come from Edison, following Damiya Hageman, Gabrielle Elliott and Rickea Jackson. What she displayed Saturday was what Edison coach Monique Brown called a combination of all her predecessors, as she also added four assists and three steals to the stat sheet.
“I think Ruby, the last four years, she was able to, first of all, learn from each and every one of those players,” Brown said. “She has something that each one of those players were good at – she has a piece of all of those. She can pass the ball, she can score the ball, she plays good defense, she’s a good slasher. Gabrielle was a good slasher, Rickea Jackson could score, Damiya Hageman can pass the ball. She’s blended all of those three young ladies, and she can do a lot of different things on the court to help us be who we are.”
Devin Hageman had eight points and eight assists for Edison. Cadence Dykstra had nine points for West Catholic, and Emma Tuttle grabbed nine rebounds.
PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Edison celebrates Saturday’s final championship after clinching in Division 2. (Middle) Edison’s Ruby Whitehorn beats a pair of defenders to the basket for a layup. (Below) Dakota Alston (4) launches a pass over West Catholic’s Abbey Kimball. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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.
“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.
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.”
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.