Edison Closes Dominant Run as Champ Again

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 23, 2019

GRAND RAPIDS – The Detroit Edison girls basketball team has been leaving people in awe all season. 

On Saturday night, the Pioneers' own coach was a bit star struck after they defeated Freeland 77-58 to claim the Division 2 championship. 

“This is a phenomenal group that I have,” Edison coach Monique Brown said. “I don’t even know where to start with this group and what we’ve accomplished together as one unit. Today up and down with our defense, they had so many 3s on us, but we just kept fighting and fighting and pushing and communicating. I’m just so happy to be up here with these young ladies and to say I’m their coach.” 

The title is the third straight for Edison, with the previous two coming in Class C. Edison is the sixth school in MHSAA history to win three straight girls basketball titles, and the Pioneers’ run was a dominant one. Through its first seven postseason games, their average margin of victory was 48.7 points, with their closest game prior to the Final coming in a 27-point win against Haslett in the Semifinal. 

With that type of run, it could have been easy for the Pioneers to lose focus, but they never did. 

“The way we were able to stay focused was our practice and each other,” Edison junior forward Gabrielle Elliott said. “We were always on each other’s back in practice. We were blowing people out, so we had to stay focused. Our biggest competition was ourselves, and we were going so hard in practice. That’s what people didn’t see as to why we were beating people by 50.” 

Unfortunately for the rest of the state, Edison’s powerhouse may not be going anywhere. While graduating senior Rickea Jackson, this year’s Miss Basketball Award winner, is certainly going to hurt, she’s the only senior on the Pioneers’ roster. 

“Many, many years with more state championships,” Jackson said when asked what’s to come. “It doesn’t just run on me, it was a team effort. There are other great teammates and great shooters, scorers, rebounders that are still here, so I think it can go a long time.” 

Jackson was the star again Saturday night, scoring a game-high 28 points and adding five rebounds in her final game. Next year, she’ll be playing at Mississippi State. 

“Amazing,” Freeland coach Tom Zolinski said. “She really is. We would make a little run then she’d come back and hit a quick shot, a mid-range shot or even a three. She’s tough.” 

During the Division 3 game, which directly preceded the Division 2 Final, Jackson was awarded the Miss Basketball trophy. It could have made an already large target on her back even bigger, but she said that she used it as motivation. 

“It made me feel like I had to win this championship even more,” Jackson said. “Why not finish your season with Miss Basketball and a third state championship? If we didn’t get it, I would have been very hurt. It made me more confident. Getting that award definitely made me way more confident just knowing that I could go out there and play my game. There was nothing more I could do to go out there and prove to nobody. I could play my game.” 

Edison did struggle from the perimeter in the first half, hitting just 1 of 10 attempts from 3-point range. But the Pioneers made up for that with 12 second-chance points and 11 points off turnovers to lead 37-24 at the half.  

Freeland didn’t back down from the state’s top-ranked team, and every time it looked like Edison was about to blow the top off the game, the Falcons found points either from the field or the free-throw line to remain within shouting distance.  

While they weren’t great from the field, shooting just 6 of 23, they were perfect on their 10 first-half free-throw attempts. 

In the second half, those perimeter shots started falling for the Pioneers as they hit their first four attempts from beyond the arc, three coming from sophomore guard Damiya Hagemann.  

“We were rushing a little bit offensively and settling for the 3-point shot,” Brown said. “In the first half we were 1 for 10, and when I’m looking at these numbers, we were 7 for 19 (for the game), so we went 6 for 9 in the second half, which is pretty good. That says a lot about who we are and how we listen and pay attention, and how we go out there and work together as a unit.” 

While the lead grew to 19 heading into the fourth quarter, Freeland hit its own shots to again keep the game from getting completely away. 

The Falcons were able to cut into the lead a bit in the final quarter, but never got closer than 14 points over the final eight minutes.  

Elliott scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds for Edison, while Hagemann had 13 points and nine assists. 

Alyssa Argyle led Freeland with 18 points and five rebounds, while Kadyn Blanchard had 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, and Autumn Kloha had 11 points and five assists. 

“They made history in Freeland,” Zolinski said. “Tonight, they gave it their all. It was a tough task tonight, and a lot of credit goes to them. But what a group of girls right here. In four years, they won 94 games and lost 11. Never lost a conference game, and I’m definitely going to miss them. They’ve set it up for the future.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Edison players raise their Division 2 championship trophy Saturday night at Van Noord Arena. (Middle) Rickea Jackson gets an open look in the lane.

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.)